PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Orion test flight launch in the United States, the first step towards a manned mission to Mars by Nasa, will carry with it more than 10,000 Malaysian names.
A 0.8 sq cm silicon wafer microchip onboard holds 1,379,961 names in total and the Orion will eventually journey further than any manned spacecraft has travelled in more than 40 years.
According to the Nasa website, Malaysia ranks 17th on a list of submissions received from 231 locations worldwide with 10,553 Malaysian names obtaining "boarding passes" on the flight.
To fit all the names on the 10-sen-sized microchip, Nasa engineers used an electron beam to "write" extremely tiny letters, with lines smaller than the width of a strand of human hair.
The unmanned capsule will complete two Earth orbits during its four-and-a-half-hour test flight, reaching a maximum altitude of 5,794km before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean for recovery.
The Orion was scheduled to be launched at Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 7.05am Thursday (8.05pm Thursday Malaysian time) but the flight had been called off due to a valve issue.
Its next possible launch window is at the same time Friday.
Several more test flights have been planned for the next few years and Nasa intends to send a crew to Mars in an Orion by the mid-2030s.