19Jun2018

The Wackiest Things Ever Launched Into Space

We’ve been happily launching some of the craziest, zaniest, and often not-really-justifiable things into the heavens and out of this world, in an effort to spread our weirdness all over the galaxy.

Earlier this year, innovator and dreamer Elon Musk demoed his brand new rocket called “Falcon Heavy” by sending his own cherry red Tesla Roadster to space. Why do we say he’s a dreamer?

Because his candid goal is not only to make space travel commercially viable but to turn humanity into a multi-planetary species that would survive catastrophes – both natural and man-made – that might one day turn the Earth uninhabitable for us. Many people were surprised and shocked by the unusual cargo of the Falcon Heavy. But this wasn’t the first weird cargo to make it into orbit or beyond. Here are some of the most bizarre things we’ve ever launched into space.

A “Star Trek” captain

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took cosplay to the extreme. The first Italian woman in space has a weakness for espresso, it seems – when the Dragon space capsule delivered an espresso machine to the International Space Station in April 2015, Cristoforetti celebrated by dressing up as Captain Janeway from the TV series “Star Trek Voyager” by tweeting a picture of herself dressed in her uniform with the caption “There’s coffee in that nebula’… ehm, I mean… in that #Dragon”.

“There’s coffee in that nebula”… ehm, I mean… in that — Samantha Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) April 17, 2015 #Dragon. pic.twitter.com/9MYrqIOXnI

Cheese

One of the first Dragon missions to successfully make it into orbit was carrying a big wheel of cheese – a French variety called Le Brouère produced in Bulgnéville, Vosges. And nine nanosatellites.

Elon Musk didn’t reveal the unusual cargo until after the splashdown of the capsule, fearing – legitimately – that it would overshadow the company’s accomplishments. The cheese was enclosed in a metal barrel with the poster of the 1984 comedy “Top Secret” pasted on its top.

Movie memorabilia

Samantha Cristoforetti is not the only movie-loving space-farer. Movie-related – especially science fiction movie related – items were repeatedly sent into space in the past (and probably will be sent in the future). Some of the most interesting ones were the lightsaber prop from the first Star Wars movie, going into orbit onboard NASA’s Discovery space shuttle in 2007, and a plastic Buzz Lightyear figurine (from Disney’s Toy Store) that reached the International Space Station in 2008.

But one of the most solemn moments of space flight was also science fiction related – the ashes of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry were launched into space in 1997 by the Houston-based company Celestis Inc. He was followed a decade later by actor James Doohan who played a beloved Star Trek character, Montgomery “Scotty” Scott.

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