SpaceX: The four astronauts who took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida (United States), this Friday (23), towards the International Space Station, were not the only crew members of the SpaceX Crew-2 mission aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft. There was also a friendly stuffed penguin accompanying them on the journey.
“We have a fifth member of the crew and he can really fly! He is a penguin that our children chose and his name is Guin Guin. Welcome Guin Guin to space ”, announced the astronaut of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Akihiko Hoshide.
It appeared floating during the video that NASA broadcast live from inside the spacecraft’s cabin (see tweet below), a few minutes after the launch propelled by the Falcon 9 rocket. Its appearance on the screen was indicative of zero gravity, that is, Crew Dragon had just left the Earth’s atmosphere at that time.
In addition to the penguin manufactured and sold by Jellycat and astronaut Hoshide, the other crew members are NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur and European Space Agency (ESA) member Thomas Pesquet. The group is expected to arrive at the orbital laboratory this Saturday (24).
Sending toys into space is a tradition
Carrying toys on space travel is a tradition that began with the first missions carried out by the then Soviet Union. According to custom, they are chosen by the children of the crew and serve to indicate that the spacecraft has reached the gravity of outer space.
During Elon Musk’s Demo-2 mission, carried out in May 2020, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were accompanied by a plush dinosaur on the journey to the Station. In Crew-1, launched in November, the mascot of the crew was the Baby Yoda doll, a character in the Mandalorian series.