Send them over the moon, or at least into orbit

by Paul Jay, CBC News online

For lovers out there trying to come up with a last-minute Valentine's Day gift to get out of the doghouse, the key is to think big. And what's bigger than outer space?

That's the thinking behind a special Valentine's Day offer from the MIT and Georgia Tech students responsible for YNIS, or Your Name Into Space.

YNIS is a project designed to launch a small unmanned research spacecraft designed by students into Earth's orbit by 2010. To fund the project, the YNIS kids got the bright idea to offer, um, space on the satellite for anything from people's names to corporate logos. And now, just in time, Valentine's Day wishes. As they write:

Looking for a novel gift for friends, family, colleagues or teachers? Hoping to surprise your sweetie with something more memorable than roses? Send a Y*N*I*S gift certificate that entitles the receiver to space on America's most ambitious student satellite! We'll send the recipient a digital gift certificate and instructions for how to upload a message or image of their choice.

Don't expect the satellite to stay up there forever, however: after five weeks it will return to Earth, but as a bonus sponsors will get the piece of the spacecraft hardware that carried the image into orbit. Prices range from $35 to $250 US per square cm.

Just a word to the wise: while this gift might handle this year's Valentine's Day, it probably can't be double-dipped for use in 2010 when the actual satellite enters orbit. But it's worth a try.

Thanks to Slashdot for the link.