The Weirdest Things Sent to Space
Since Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin launched into space in April 1961, the world has been obsessed with traveling in the universe. Along the way, others have followed in Gagarin’s footsteps. In addition to going to space, they’ve brought some interesting and crazy items along for the ride.
Below is an off-the-wall list of the weirdest things sent to space.
It didn’t take long for nudie pictures to hit space. Playboy would serve as the magazine of choice.
In November 1969, the backup crew of Apollo 12 decided to play a prank on the primary astronauts. During a routine stroll on the moon, Alan Bean and Charles Conrad found Playboy centerfolds in their EVA checklists.
Those weren’t the only Playboy centerfolds hidden by the backup crew. When Bean and Conrad returned to the orbiting command module, they found another taped to Richard Gordan’s locker.
Next on the weird list comes something along the same lines as the above, except a little creepier and less humorous.
Believe it or not, human remains have been sent to space. This is all thanks to what is known as “memorial spaceflights”. As a collaboration between Celestis and SpaceX, these flights allow those who are long gone can still travel the great beyond.
In fact, the remains of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was aboard Celestis’ inaugural flight in 1997. His remains would take the very same trip in 2012. This time with the remains of James Doohan, Scotty from the original Star Trek TV series, and astronaut Gordon Cooper.
Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber
While the shuttle program was in operation, an Official Flight Kit (OFK) was carried on each mission. These kits would allow astronauts to store personal items during travel.
During a two-week Discovery mission in 2007, a total of 102 items were placed in the OFK. Items ranged from baseball jerseys and cards to banners from a family member’s high school. The most surprising item found in this OFK was the very lightsaber prop that Mark Hamill used in Return of the Jedi.
In fact, George Lucas personally requested it be taken on the mission to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope.
From a cool movie prop to salmonella? Well, we did say this list was weird.
Two International Space Station flights in the past had salmonella samples aboard. This was done to test how the bacteria would react when it came to low gravity.
When the samples returned to Earth after a 12-day orbit in the Atlantis space shuttle, the salmonella became that much more infectious. That’s good information to have.
Dinosaurs? In space? It sounds like a weird sci-fi flick by the creators of Snakes on a Plane. However, it’s the truth.
Astronaut Loren Acton brought small eggshells and bone bits from the Maiasaura peeblesorum dinosaur to space. This occurred during a SpaceLab2 mission in 1985.
Known as the see-through fish, medaka were brought on board for testing reasons around low gravity on marine life. Thanks to their transparent skin, researchers were able to help find answers to why astronauts suffer from lowered bone density while in space.
Organically speaking, bones break down and rebuild, with osteoclasts assisting in the process. The entire progression of this gets wonky in space. In order to fight this ailment, astronauts would take vitamin D supplements and engage in a two-hour, highly intense, exercise routine.
Thanks to medaka testing, researchers found that space exercise could be scrapped.
Corned Beef Sandwich
Let’s face it: being an astronaut must be a hard job. Flying all the way up to space has to make a person just a little famished, if not hangry at times.
Well, astronaut John Young took care of that issue when he snuck a corned beef sandwich aboard the Gemini 3 in 1965. The sandwich was only eaten for about 10 seconds before being placed back inside of Young’s suit.
It’s been said that Young got a stern talking to around the entire ordeal. After all, with a five-hour mission before hitting the moon and low gravity, eating such a thing, while delicious, placed shuttle equipment at risk for clogging up.
Wondering if it was worth it? C’mon, it’s corned beef. Of course, it was worth it!
Jumping on the space shuttle bandwagon, Coca Cola decided they wanted to be the very first fizzy drink in space.
In 1985, the company spent approximately $250,000 creating a can that could function without gravity. To ensure that the drink didn’t spill everywhere, they altered their formula a tad too.
NASA would agree to allow Coke beverages onboard. However, Pepsi announced that they felt left out of the entire thing. As a result, NASA stated that any pop company could come aboard as long as the container was viable. Therefore, that same year, four cans of Coke and four cans of Pepsi both flew to space on the Challenger.
What’s a nice cold cola without any pizza?
Pizza Hut didn’t only want to be known for advertising on the rocket in 2000, they wanted to be the first to deliver pizza in space as well. One year later in 2001, they forked over $1 million dollars to do so, delivering pizza to cosmonaut Yuri Usachov. His pizza had a crispy crust, cheese, sauce, and salami.
The real question is, though: did it take under an hour after ordering to get there?
Soviet cosmonauts were seemingly prepared when entering space, armed with triple barrel TP-82s.
Why the need? We all know that if they encountered aliens they’d be toast anyway. Well, unlike astronauts, the cosmonauts were given these weapons for their return to Earth. After they came back from space in 1965, the ship landed in the Ural Mountains. These mountains were home to hungry wolves looking for their next snack. So, they needed backup.
Along with human remains, Space X is known for placing a wheel of cheese — Le Brouere to be exact — aboard an unmanned spaceship. This was done to commemorate Monty Python’s infamous cheese shop sketch.
Additionally, the company sealed the wheel within a metal cylinder and placed a poster for Top Secret, which starred Val Kilmer, atop it. Not sure if you can get any weirder than that.
Buzz Lightyear Doll
Of course, there’s only one thing weirder than cheese wrapped in a metal cylinder with an image of Val Kilmer on top of it. That is a Buzz Lightyear doll orbiting around the universe prior to having a parade held in its honor at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World.
The action figure made famous from the Toy Story franchise stayed in space for about 467 days in 2008. Buzz finally made it infinity and beyond!