Astrobotic, a company that is competing to win the $30 million Google Lunar X-Prize by placing the first commercial lander on the Moon, is now offering the public the opportunity to mail their keepsakes on one-way trips to the lunar surface.
"This is your unique opportunity to commemorate your graduation, holiday, wedding, child's birth, or loved one's memory with a lasting symbol we will carry on our lunar lander," the company says. "Life's most meaningful moments can be forever linked with the Moon in the night sky."
Recommended items include family photos, sand from your favorite beach, love letters and graduation tassels. Disallowed items are explosives, weapons, sharp objects, energy storage devices, radioactive material, perishables, biological material except teeth and hair, liquids, gels or aerosols. All objects must be inert, which means they use no electrical power, contain no power source and do not send or receive data.
Keepsakes will be placed in a "Moon Capsule." An online tool lets you choose the size of the package and the amount of "postage" you are willing to spend. Prices range from $460 (for a capsule 1 inch high and half-an-inch wide) to $25,800 (2 inches high, one inch wide).
Each capsule is designed to fit inside a "Moon Pod," a 12-inch-wide pressurized canister permanently mounted on Astrobiotic's four-legged Griffin lander (image, top). Hundreds to several thousand capsules can fit in each Moon Pod, depending on the various size containers chosen by MoonMail customers.
As CollectSpace.com reports:
The first Griffin is slated to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and land at Lacus Mortis, or the "Lake of Death," a plain of basaltic lava flows in the northeastern part of the moon as viewed from Earth.
"There is a unique feature there called a 'skylight,'" says CEO John Thornton, adding that only about 300 of these sinkhole-like entrances into subsurface caves have been discovered on the moon. "What's very unique about the skylight at Lacus Mortis is that its walls have collapsed creating a ramp into the cave."
"Caves on the surface of the moon could be our natural shelter," Thornton explained. "So our first mission goes to one of these caves where we hopefully think someday we could settle on the moon. We think it's a fantastic location to place MoonMail, which ultimately will be a time capsule of our generation for future moon explorers."
Astrobotic is holding a contest to give away a 1 x 0.125-inch capsule to launch with the first shipment of MoonMail. The company will choose "the most creative, interesting, and poignant idea submitted." The contest is open until December 22nd, with the winner being announced the next day.