With time running short for the space shuttle, NASA has come up with a way for the masses to journey with astronauts on the vehicle's two remaining voyages. Granted, it’s still impossible to actually hitch a ride to orbit, but you can upload and send a picture of yourself into space through NASA’s “Face in Space” initiative.
It’s pretty simple: Just follow this link, pick a mission (STS-133 or STS-134), upload your image/name, print your confirmation page, then wait. Once the shuttle returns from orbit, you can print out a flight certificate signed by the mission commander.
Before launch, check out the participation map to see the number and location of fellow “Face in Space” travelers. In the course of one hour, I watched the total number jump from 133,405 to 133,672 participants worldwide. The United States had the most (58,170), while some countries like Greenland (9) had numbers in the single digits. As the launch dates get nearer (September 16th for STS-133 and November for STS-134), the numbers are sure to increase.
The digital images will be electronically transferred from Mission Control to the shuttle after launch and uploaded to an onboard computer, where they will remain until the computer undergoes a standard memory cleanup. The pictures are not scheduled to be viewed by the astronauts during the flight, but at least they'll be along for the ride.