Washington: NASA is planning to send DNA of famed British science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke into space - five years after his death.
The author of the novel '2001: A Space Odyssey' died in 2008 in Sri Lanka, and now NASA scientists have announced plans to send his DNA into orbit around the Sun in 2014 aboard the Sunjammer, a solar-powered spacecraft which gets its name from the writings of Clarke.
Called the Sunjammer Cosmic Archive (SCA), the flying time capsule is a first in the history of space travel, carrying digital files of human DNA including Clarke's aboard the sun-powered space ship, FoxNews.com reported.
The DNA is to be contained in a 'BioFile'. Other so-called MindFiles, including images, music, voice recordings, and the like, provided by people all around the globe, will also be included in the cosmic archive for future generations - or perhaps other civilisations - to see.
"Clarke certainly imagined himself going to space someday, and that day is finally arriving," said Stephen Eisele, vice president of Space Services, Inc, a NASA contractor on the project.
NASA's mission manager Ron Unger, at the Marshall Space Flight Center, described the Sunjammer project, as a 'game changing technology' that could alter mankind's approach to space travel.
Simply put, the technology is a 'solar sail' that gathers light from the Sun and turns it into a propulsion source for a spacecraft, Unger said.
It seems like something out of Clarke's sci-fi writings, which is one reason that his DNA, which he left to science upon his death, is the payload for the mission, Eisele said.
This NASA-funded technology demonstration is designed to highlight the efficacy of solar sails for space propulsion applications; it's now being built by Sunjammer team leader L'Garde, Inc, based in Tustin, California.
"Sunjammer will morph - much like a butterfly - into a Space Shuttle-sized ship capable of manoeuvring solely by riding the photonic pressure of the Sun," Nathan Barnes, president of L'Garde, told the website.
The ship will launch in the fall of 2014 on a 3,057,753 kilometres voyage to the Sun from Cape Canaveral, he said.
The diminutive spacecraft will be carried as a secondary spacecraft aboard a Falcon rocket 1,499,908 kilometres from Earth, where it will be released into space.