Snoopy is gearing up for a flyby of the moon as part of NASA’s upcoming Artemis I mission.
Slated for early 2022, the mission will be a test flight for NASA’s new SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft that in the next couple of years will help to put the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface.
For the crewless test mission, a Snoopy kitted out in custom-made NASA gear will act as a zero-gravity indicator so that operators on the ground will be able to see when the spacecraft has escaped Earth’s gravitational pull.
Snoopy actually has a history with NASA dating back to the Apollo 10 mission in 1969. The space agency explains: “Apollo 10 astronauts Gene Cernan, John Young, and Thomas Stafford traveled all the way to the moon for one final checkout before the lunar landing attempt. The mission required the lunar module to skim the moon’s surface to within 50,000 feet and ‘snoop around’ scouting the Apollo 11 landing site, leading the crew to name the lunar module Snoopy. The Apollo command module was labeled Charlie Brown, after Snoopy’s loyal owner.”
NASA even created the Silver Snoopy award during the Apollo era and to this day Snoopy silver pins are presented to NASA employees and contractors for outstanding work related to mission success and flight safety.
“Each silver pin given with this award, depicting astronaut Snoopy, was flown in space,” NASA said. “Continuing the tradition, Artemis I will also carry a package of silver Snoopy pins for future recognitions.”
NASA also hopes that making Snoopy a part of the Artemis missions will help to inspire children to learn more about space exploration and engineering, with the agency planning to release lots of related learning materials for use in the classroom.
Besides the Snoopy doll and Snoopy pins, the Orion capsule will also carry a manikin fitted with sensors that will help NASA learn more about how various stages of the flight will affect the human crew taking the same route in the Artemis II mission in 2024, as well as the Artemis III lunar landing mission, which could take place in 2025.
We should note that the Artemis I mission won’t actually be Snoopy’s first trip to space. The popular character also took a ride on Space Shuttle Columbia during the STS-32 mission in 1990 and also traveled to the International Space Station aboard a Cygnus spacecraft on Northrop Grumman’s 12th cargo resupply mission in 2019, making Snoopy a pretty accomplished space explorer.
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