Baby Yoda is now in space, after being carried on board SpaceX flight by Nasa astronauts

The plush toy was the astronauts’ zero-gravity indicator 

Adam Smith
Monday 16 November 2020 12:47
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Baby Yoda is SpaceX and Nasa's Zero-G Indicator
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SpaceX astronauts smuggled a small Baby Yoda plushie into space during its recent Crew-1 mission.

The company’s Falcon 9 rocket launched from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre launchpad – the first full-length flight for Nasa by SpaceX – and is expected to reach the International Space Station today.

The unusual ‘zero-gravity indicator’ shows when the rocket has escaped the Earth’s pull.

Alongside the human astronauts – Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker from Nasa and Soichi Noguchi from Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency – the small Star Wars character was seen floating around the cabin.

"We've got Baby Yoda on board trying to take a seat right now," Nasa’s communications specialist Leah Cheshier said in the agency's livestream of the mission.

"I think that's Victor Glover's seat, so I hope he doesn't mind," SpaceX engineer Jessica Anderson responded.

"Maybe Baby Yoda's trying to pilot the vehicle," Cheshier added.

The character, which comes from the Disney+ series The Mandalorian and is officially called “The Child”, is the latest in a long tradition of using toys as an indicator that a spacecraft has reached zero-gravity.

The Russian Soyuz TMA-17M rocket, which was launched in July 2015, used a plush R2-D2 toy as the zero-gravity indicator.

The collaboration between SpaceX and Nasa will give the United States the ability to launch people into space from its own country.

Previously, it had been hiring seats on Russian space craft, which can cost $90 million.

"Bottom line: I think it's just better for us to be flying from the United States if we can do that," the commander of SpaceX's first crew, Doug Hurley, said.

The astronauts will live and work on the International Space Station for approximately six months, the longest human spaceflight in Nasa’s history.

Nasa hopes that it will be able to rotate crew between the ISS and the United States, which would allow for more experiments to be conducted.

It takes nearly 28 hours for a flight to the ISS to be completed, but the journey is completely automated – with astronauts only taking manual control if necessary.

The dragon capsule, which can carry up to seven people – is expected to be recycled by SpaceX for the next mission, set to take place in March.

Over the next 15 months, SpaceX is expected to fly seven Dragon missions for Nasa, carrying both crew and cargo.

SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk was forced to miss the event due to contracting the coronavirus.

Some Twitter users mocked Mr Musk, who had previously downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic.

One user dubbed him “Space Karen” for his perceived obnoxious attitude towards the pandemic, causing the term to trend across the platform.

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