Snoopy is cleared for launch.
The beloved “Peanuts” character technically already traveled to the moon in a 1969 comic strip drawn by the late Charles M. Schulz.
Now NASA is making the more than 50-year-old dream a reality.
Snoopy, in plush form, will serve as the “zero-gravity indicator” on the Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft as its unmanned mission, slated for Aug. 29, 2022, loops around the moon, Space.com reported.
NASA uses stuffed animals on flights because when the little creatures start to float, it indicates that the spacecraft has entered space’s zero gravity. Since the toys are soft and light, they won’t break anything or accidentally strike a button.
Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space, had a small doll when he launched on Vostok 1, The Associated Press reported, noting that since then an owl doll and an Angry Birds toy have hung out on the International Space Station; a plush R2-D2 of “Star Wars” fame was used as the talisman on a Soyuz mission in 2015; and a stuffed snowman Olaf from the movie “Frozen” has gone up.
According to Space.com, Snoopy made a similar journey in 1969, flying with “Charlie Brown” as the call signs for the lunar and command modules that flew astronauts on a final dress rehearsal before the first moon landing.
“I will never forget watching the Apollo 10 mission with my dad, who was so incredibly proud to have his characters participate in making space exploration history,” Craig Schulz, son of the famed cartoonist and producer of “The Peanuts Movie,” said in a prepared statement.
“I know he would be ecstatic to see Snoopy and NASA join together again to push the boundaries of human experience,” he added.
Meanwhile, Snoopy’s Artemis 1 attire consists of a custom-made, 10-inch-by-7-inch version of NASA’s Orion crew Survival System pressure suit, made from the same materials as the suits that will be worn by astronauts on future Artemis missions, Space.com reported.
As the zero-gravity indicator, the Snoopy plush toy will float above the Artemis 1 mission’s seated and strapped-in “crew,” consisting solely of an instrumented mannequin named after an Apollo 13 engineer and “two ‘phantom’ human torsos that will be collecting data about the radiation and physical conditions aboard the Orion capsule,” the outlet reported.
The space agency also honors its best employees with the Silver Snoopy Award, and a Snoopy doll was aboard Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft in 2019, the AP reported.
“My father felt that his association with NASA via Peanuts was one of the two most important aspects of his life — the other being his service in World War II - so I am absolutely thrilled that Peanuts will play an ongoing role in NASA’s 21st-century exploration with Snoopy’s participation in the Artemis 1 mission,” Craig Schulz stated.
The upcoming mission announcement coincides with the release Friday of the second season of “Snoopy in Space,” the Emmy-nominated animated series on Apple TV+. Season One saw Snoopy become an astronaut and land on the moon. Season Two sees him go further in what showrunner Mark Evestaff calls an “epic road trip.”
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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