Space enthusiast and supporter of the National Autistic Society, Oliver Jenkins, has been shortlisted to have his #MessageToVoyager beamed into interstellar space.

The competition, run by NASA, is to celebrate the Voyager mission’s 40 years of exploring space.

Oliver Jenkins Voyager quote.

Speaking about the competition, Oliver said:

“I’ve always been keen on space, looking up to the stars and wondering what’s up there in that silent vacuum. I’ve been following the space programme ever since I was a kid, I was lucky enough to watch the space shuttle launch live on the internet before they were decommissioned. I watch documentaries about not only space exploration, like the moon missions but also the planets, the solar system and the universe at large (even though I struggle to understand some of it). My favourite TV shows are Doctor Who and Star Trek, so my love of space runs very deep. I have Asperger syndrome, and we can have certain interests, suffice to say this is one of mine.

“Naturally, I follow NASA’s various Twitter accounts because of this, and saw one day that they were running a competition to have a message sent out to Voyager 1, the furthest man-made object from Earth, currently sat in interstellar space, to celebrate 40 years since it was first launched. It took a while for me to construct the right message because I was limited to 60 characters. I sent a message off, heavily inspired by the peaceful exploration of Star Trek, based on the premise that one day alien life might find the message and we could make first contact. I sent the tweet off and thought nothing of it (I enter tonnes of competitions and I never get lucky on these things). I had one person tweet me to say it was good, but other than that it got no attention.

“Then, a couple of days ago, I noticed that the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory had liked the tweet. I thought, maybe, just maybe, that might mean my message was shortlisted for the public vote. So I quickly clicked on the link and, there it was, my message, hand-selected by NASA. NASA liked my message! Well I couldn’t contain my excitement, I rarely stim or flap but I was bounding about everywhere, stimming, flapping, shouting  I thought I was a rocket about to launch! Just to be selected for the shortlist is an achievement in itself. An unemployed dude with Asperger’s who can barely get his head around physics, to have my message selected by the most famous space exploration administration in the world... I’ll be beaming about that for the rest of my life, and it definitely looks good on the CV! I’m excited not just for me, but if this message does go further, and even if it doesn’t, it’s a massive recognition of the worth of people with autism and Asperger’s. It reinforces what we all know, we can mix it with the best of them.”

Support Oliver’s efforts by voting for his #MessageToVoyager. You have until midnight tonight!