Shaun the Sheep will join NASA’s Artemis 1 flight to the Moon

NASA’s Artemis 1 will have company on its flight to the Moon. On Tuesday, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced that it would join the unmanned mission when it hopefully lifts off later this year. With this announcement, Aardman’s beloved character will technically become the first ESA astronaut to participate in the Artemis program.

“This is an exciting time for Shaun and for us at ESA,” said David Parker, ESA Director for Human and Robotic Exploration. “We are very pleased that he was selected for the mission and we understand that while this may be a small step for a human, it is a giant leap for the lamb.”

Following one of its next-generation SLS rockets, NASA said Artemis 1 could be launched. The mission will send the agency’s Orion spacecraft — along with Shaun and — on a journey beyond the moon. If all goes as planned, the capsule should return to Earth after spending 39 to 42 days in space. “The spacecraft will perform a flyby of the Moon, using lunar gravity to gain speed and propel itself 70,000 km beyond the Moon, nearly half a million km from Earth – more far that no human or sheep has ever travelled,” the ESA said. said.

Aardman didn’t say as much, but Shaun will likely serve as the zero-g indicator for the mission. Since the Russian cosmonaut took a small doll with him on the very first manned spaceflight, it has become a tradition for space crews to bring a stuffed toy on a mission. Even some unmanned flights took part in the practice. In May, for example, Boeing’s Starliner capsule from Kerbal Space Program to .

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