It’s fair to say that Snoopy has been around a while. In fact, the canine cartoon character was already eight years old when NASA was founded in 1958.
About a decade after the space agency came to be, the folks behind Snoopy began a collaboration with NASA that continues to this day. Indeed, in the coming weeks, the popular character will be heading to space on the first flight of NASA’s next-generation Space Launch System (SLS) rocket as part of the Artemis I mission.
In a video (below) posted on Tuesday, NASA explained why Snoopy will be riding aboard the Orion spacecraft as it flies around the moon and returns to Earth six weeks after launch.
As the video reveals, Snoopy will act as the zero-g indicator on the SLS rocket’s maiden flight when it gets underway, hopefully next month. Every rocket with a crew capsule has a zero-g indicator — usually a soft toy brought by a crew member — to establish when the astronauts and spacecraft have reached weightlessness after departing Earth’s atmosphere shortly after launch.
Artemis I won’t have a crew aboard, but cameras inside the capsule will allow flight engineers on the ground to see Snoopy begin to float around, indicating that Orion is free from Earth’s gravitational pull.
Melissa Menta, senior vice president of Peanuts Worldwide, said her team “wanted to go all out” with Snoopy’s upcoming space ride, so it dressed him up in an intricately designed spacesuit made out of material used in suits worn by actual NASA astronauts.
Snoopy’s first flight to space was in 1990 when he traveled on the Space Shuttle Columbia during the STS-32 mission, but the Artemis I flight will see him go farther than he’s ever been before.
Snoopy’s relationship with the U.S. space agency goes back about 50 years to the days of the Apollo program.
NASA’s Silver Snoopy award was created during the Apollo era and to this day is awarded by astronauts to the agency’s employees and contractors to celebrate achievements related to mission success and human flight safety.
Collaborations were also established for STEM content that includes books and other learning materials. In fact, education is a big part of why Snoopy works with NASA, as it’s hoped the well-known character will inspire children to learn more about the space agency’s efforts and take a keen interest in science and engineering to become the explorers of tomorrow.
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