Image courtesy of NASA
On Sunday, November 15, four astronauts departed Earth on SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship to the International Space Station for a 6-month mission. The launch was previously scheduled for Saturday evening, but weather forced a 24-hour delay even in the face of 50/50 odds of more unsafe weather conditions. Fortunately, the weather was clear and the launch went off without issue.
The crew for the spaceship is comprised of four astronauts: Shannon Walker, Mike Hopkins, and Victor Glover of NASA, who are joined by Soichi Noguchi from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. However, much to the delight of everyone watching the post-launch livestream, it turns out that the crew brought a friend.
Apparently - and I just learned this today, so hooray for learning new things! - it is a tradition for crews to bring small plushies with them on missions as a "zero gravity indicator." Once the toy begins to float, then observers will know that the ship has left the pull of Earth's gravity.
As it turns out, this crew seems to be as much a fan of the show The Mandalorian as the rest of us, because their plush companion was none other than The Child, AKA Baby Yoda. The astronauts even cracked jokes during their livestream about Baby Yoda stealing seats and other such things.
This isn't the first time a plush has captured the hearts and attention of space enthusiasts, however. Back in May during SpaceX's historic first commercial spaceflight, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley brought a sequined dinosaur on board with them. According to them, their sons are big dinosaur fans, so they had the kids gather all their stuffed dinos and choose one to go into space. The honor went to a stuffed Apatosaurus named Tremor.
Image from NASA TV
SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship flight is pretty exciting. Did you watch the launch? Which stuffed friend do you think should accompany astronauts on their next mission?