Washington, Nov 14: US space agency NASA has announced that Snoopy will ride on the Artemis I mission, slated for 2022, as the zero gravity indicator.
Snoopy is an anthropomorphic beagle in the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz, and has contributed to the excitement for NASA human spaceflight missions for more than 50 years, since Apollo missions and continues under Artemis with new educational activities.
Artemis I is an uncrewed flight test of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft around the Moon launching in early 2022 before missions with astronauts.
Without astronauts aboard Orion, Snoopy will help share the journey with the world as he rides along in the cabin with a manikin and two other "passengers", NASA said in a statement on Friday. Zero gravity indicators are small items carried aboard spacecraft that provide a visual indicator when a spacecraft has reached the weightlessness of microgravity.
For the flight, Snoopy will be outfitted in a custom orange flight suit complete with gloves, boots, and a NASA patch. Snoopy was used to encourage NASA's spaceflight safety initiative during the time of Apollo. Schulz created comic strips of Snoopy on the Moon, capturing public excitement about America's achievements in space.
For the Artemis I mission, Peanuts is releasing a new suite of curriculum and short videos with its partner, GoNoodle, to encourage kids to learn about gravity, teamwork, and space exploration while they follow Snoopy along on his Artemis I journey, NASA said.
In addition to the doll and Silver Snoopy pins, a pen nib from Schulz's Peanuts studio will make the trek on Artemis I wrapped in a space themed comic strip as part of a collection of mementos selected by NASA to fly aboard the Orion spacecraft.
A new season of "Snoopy in Space" will also be released on Apple TV+ that explores the planets and what conditions are necessary to find life in the universe. NASA supported Peanuts with the series through reviews of STEM content and NASA mission information.
Under Artemis, NASA is working to land the first woman and the first person of colour on the Moon and lead the next steps of human exploration for future missions to Mars.