A rendering of OSIRIS-REx returning a sample back to Earth. Courtesy of NASA.
The Long Beach Playhouse is not only celebrating its 85th year—making it one of the longest-running Long Beach organizations—but it hit a new milestone that no other theatre in the world has the bragging rights to: it is the first playhouse to reach outer space.
Jerry Stoces, astronaut and NASA extraordinare, has long been a fan of the Playhouse—and following the organization’s loss of Brian Canup, Stoces felt obligated to recognize not just the Playhouse but Canup is a very specific way: sending their names into the vast, gorgeous unknown that is space.
Stoces will be working on the first spacecraft to land on the asteroid named Bennu; the spacecraft will be launching from the Kennedy Space Center and eventually return samples back to earth.
Two official “Messages to Bennu” will have the Playhouse and Brian Canup’s names sent on the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, thanks in part to the Planetary Society. One set will be sent to Bennu from Earth and return while the other will continue traveling into space, never to be seen again.
“I wanted to do something special for the Playhouse and also in memory of Brian,” Stoces said. “Since I am able to have names micro-etched onto two plates that will be attached to the spacecraft and travel with it into space… I figured having the name of the Long Beach Playhouse and one that says, ‘In Loving Memory of Brian Canup’ added would be a special way to commemorate two things I enjoy in life.”
This is not Stoces’s first time memorializing human life by placing forms of it on the skirts of the Final Frontier. In 2010, Stoces added very specific names to chips that headed out on the Curiosity Rover to Mars—specifically the names Greg, Brett, Greg, Jay, Brian and Brooks, the names of the many members of punk staple Bad Religion. The band’s moniker in addition to Epitaph Records were also sent on the mission.
The mission—a cost of about $800M for the launch itself and $183.5M for the launch vehicle—is expected to take off into space come 2016, with samples of asteroid 101955 Bennu returning to Earth in 2023.
Note: Brian Addison serves on the Board of the Long Beach Playhouse.