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Send your name into space, maybe to Mars

An Orion spacecraft is shown in this rendering from NASA. One to be launched in December could carry your name.
An Orion spacecraft is shown in this rendering from NASA. One to be launched in December could carry your name.
  • NASA is taking names, just names, to send into space
  • Eventually, some of the names will fly on a microchip to Mars
  • The deadline for the first mission is Halloween

(CNN) -- Maybe you chickened out on the one-way trip to Mars that was being offered. But never fear, there's still a way for you to make a name for yourself.

NASA is inviting the public to send their John and Jane Does to destinations beyond low-Earth orbit, including Mars.

Spacey idea, right?

Pack lightly, because your name will fly in comfort on a dime-sized microchip aboard an Orion spacecraft that launches on December 4. The test flight will circle Earth a few times before a fiery reentry and a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

This movie cost more than going to Mars

Sounds like fun, huh? Bet you're ready to sign up.

It's easy enough.

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As an Earthbound intrepid explorer, you just enter your name -- and a few other details -- on the NASA website, click enter and you're ready to go the distance.

The names will also fly on future NASA exploration flights and missions to Mars.

"With each flight, selected individuals will accrue more miles as members of a global space-faring society," the agency's site says.

There is a deadline for such important matters. To get your "boarding pass" for the first test flight, you'll need to submit your name by Halloween.

What makes this more attractive is that it doesn't end in death on a barren planet.

More on Mars exploration

The alternative

A Dutch company called Mars One began looking last year for volunteer astronauts to fly to Mars. Departure for the Red Planet is scheduled for 2022, landing seven months later in 2023.

The one-way ticket makes the mission possible because it greatly reduces costs, and the technology for a return flight doesn't exist, according to Mars One's website.

In the days after the potential mission was announced, the company said it has received more than 10,000 emails from interested would-be spacefarers.

Will it happen? No one knows for sure. The company says it needs $6 billion to fund the project. Check back in a few years.

In the meantime, hedge your bets and send your name into space instead.

Who knows, maybe it will get you on the Martian guest list early.