Friedman’s name is one of about 435,000 names placed on a compact disc that will be in the New Horizons spacecraft when it launches from Cape Canaveral this week on a mission to Pluto and the outer edges of the solar system.
“My wife thinks it should be put out a little bit further,” said Friedman, 48.
The inclusion of names in the spacecraft is part of a public relations campaign to generate interest in the launch to the last unexplored planet in the solar system.
When it reaches Pluto as early as 2015, the spacecraft will study the ninth planet, its large moon, Charon, as
well as two other moons only discovered last year. The 700 million dollar mission also should provide scientists with a better understanding of the Kuiper Belt, a mysterious disc-shaped region that lies beyond Neptune at the outer limits of the planetary system.
Other missions have employed a similar PR trick. A small DVD containing more than 616,000 handwritten signatures was in the Cassini orbiter on its mission to Saturn in 1997. Discs with names also were sent aboard the two Mars Rovers and the Deep Impact spacecraft on its successful mission to collide with a comet.
“My wife thinks it should be put out a little bit further”
Those interested were able to submit their name to the mission’s Web site and print out a certificate that read in
part, “Thank you for joining the first mission to the last planet!”
The submission deadline was in September. Friedman knew about the mission since he is friends with its principal investigator, Alan Stern, whose brother is Friedman’s law partner.
“Knowing about the mission … I thought it would be a neat thing to have my name go out there, out to the great
beyond,” he said. “I think it is a great way to get more interest and involve more people in a mission like this.”