A microchip carrying more than 27,000 Civil Air Patrol names with related messages and images is set to be carried to the moon later this year aboard space robotics company Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander.
Maj. James Mathews, commander of Virginia Wing Group 3, handed over the encased microchip Feb. 20 to Alivia Chapla, Astrobotic's senior marketing and communications specialist, after driving more than 300 miles to do so.
“Among these names are more than 4,000 CAP high school cadets,” said 2nd Lt. Paul Douglas, aerospace education officer for the Virginia Wing’s Burke Composite Squadron. Douglas spearheaded the organization-wide name-gathering project.
“My personal hope is that our young cadets will stand in their backyards, look up at the moon, and dream big,” he said.
“They’ll know if they can make it to the moon, they can do anything.”
CAP partnered with the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility to have more than 27,000 member names – about half the organization's total membership – along with 270 Air Force Association StellarXplorers names, an 80th anniversary CAP logo and messages from CAP and AFA leadership, etched onto a microchip the size of a postage stamp. To achieve this, Cornell’s lab employed deep ultraviolet lithography, along with other nanofabrication processes, to create the half-inch hexagonal chip.
Mathews delivered the microchip inside a watertight case, adorned with signatures from CAP and AFA. The case will be passed around to Astrobotic staff members working on Peregrine Mission One to sign in the coming days.
CAP’s national commander and CEO, Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, said that “working together, we can inspire and make changes for the good. Together, we can improve our nation, our planet and even our universe
CAP will continue to work with Astrobotic to track the microchip’s program. The company will place the chip inside a “MoonPod” and securely integrate it with the Peregrine lunar lander.
“It is an honor to have so many Civil Air Patrol and cadet names aboard Astrobotic’s Peregrine Mission One,” said Sharad Bhaskaran, the company’s mission director. “Their aerospace education program directly aligns with our mission as a company to make space accessible to the world and inspire the general public through space.”
The Peregrine lander is poised to be the first American spacecraft on the moon since the Apollo program 50 years ago. Peregrine will fly aboard the United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket later this year carrying the microchip and an array of other payloads from seven countries, dozens of science teams and hundreds of individuals.