Snoopy will travel on Artemis I wearing a costume made of real spacesuit parts
You might be surprised to read that Snoopy is older than NASA.
The iconic cartoon canine was eight years old when NASA was founded in 1958. It wasn't long before the two came together like transitioning binary stars.
Roughly ten years after the U.S. space agency was founded, the creators of Snoopy started a collaboration with NASA that is still going strong today.
50 years ago or so, NASA was the face of NASA's Apollo safety campaign. Today, astronauts still give the Silver Snoopy award to other NASA employees as a sign of mission success and safety.
Now, Snoopy's getting ready to be NASA's "astronaut" aboard Artemis I, its upcoming mission around the moon. A plush of the cartoon character will be joined by the European Space Agency's own fictional crew member, Shaun the Sheep.
Snoopy goes to space
It won't be the first time Snoopy goes to space as "a zero-gravity indicator" — a tongue-in-cheek term used to refer to toys used in space to illustrate the fact astronauts or cargo are experiencing weightlessness. In 1990, Snoopy traveled aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia during the STS-32 mission, alongside five human crew members.
With Artemis I, Snoopy will go further than he — or indeed almost any human astronaut — has ever gone before. Artemis I is now expected to launch next month after a third launch attempt was scrubbed due to Hurricane Ian.
That six-week mission will see NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) lift the Orion capsule, with Snoopy and Shaun the Sheep in tow, on a trip toward the moon and back. Artemis I won't have any human crew aboard, but cameras inside the capsule will allow flight engineers to see Snoopy and Shaun start floating around like William Shatner aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard.
Snoopy and other zero-gravity indicators
If you didn't know already, all Snoopy content is owned by Peanuts Worldwide. That organization signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA in 2018 to use Snoopy and other characters to help inspire a future generation of space enthusiasts.
In a video (above), Melissa Menta, senior vice president of Peanuts Worldwide, said they "wanted to go all out," so they dressed Snoopy in an impressive spacesuit made out of materials used by actual NASA astronauts on real missions.
Other famous zero-gravity indicators from missions past include Baby Yoda on SpaceX's Crew-1 mission and the Demo-2 dino plush. Snoopy and Shaun the Sheep will go a lot further than those two toys that were launched up and towards the International Space Station aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon capsules.
The two Artemis I toys will, of course, pave the way for humans, as NASA's Artemis II mission is expected to launch humans on the same trip around the year 2024, before the Artemis III moon landing mission in 2025 or 2026.