A recycled Falcon rocket by Elon Musk’s SpaceX took off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center hoisting the Dragon capsule, which carried supplies and new experiments to be sent to the International Space Station. The capsule’s journey to the ISS is SpaceX’s 23rd cargo resupplying mission for NASA in less than a decade. The Dragon is carrying close to 2,170 kilogrammes of supplies and experiments. It comprises of food items such as avocados, lemons and ice cream for astronauts up at the ISS.
According to a report by Associated Press, the Girl Scouts sent ants, brine shrimp and plants and a Japanese start-up company has also flown up a experimental robotic arm that will be trying out how to screw items together in its orbital debut.
This begs the question, what are some of the oddest things that have been sent up to space? Here’s taking a look:
Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber
Back in 2007, astronauts travelled into space to deliver and put together the Harmony Module to the space station and since the launch of the Module was on the 30th anniversary of the Star Wars movie A New Hope. To mark the occasion, the actual lightsaber prop used by Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker in ‘Return of the Jedi’ was launched into space for two weeks.
Last year, astronauts in the ISS were also able to get their hands on the gooey toy when Nickelodeon sent 2 litres of slime to the space station for astronauts who played goofy slime ball games and also used it to experimnt the product’s behaviour in zero-gravity.
Since the early 90s, scientists have sent jellyfish into space. In 1991, over 2,000 jellyfish polyps put in flasks and bags filled with artificial seawater were asent up and to help the polpys to swin easily, the bags were injected with chemicals and the fish were sent aboard the Columbia space shuttle.
In 1985, the ‘Spacelab’ mission carried up in space ‘bits of bone and eggshell from the duck-billed dinosaur Maiasaura peeblesorum’, The Telegraph had reported. More recently, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin earlier in ht year sent bones of a Dromaeosaurus dinosaur.
Tardigrades or Water Bears
Microscopic and nearly invincible, these tiny ‘bears’ are able to survive extreme weather changes and thus prompted the scientists to experiment by sending them up in space. The tardigrades returned to Earth totally healthy and are now the first animal to survive open space.
Yes, scientists have launched freeze-dried samples of mouse sperm into space in 2013 and they were kept in storage for over nine months aboard the space station. Despite the fact that there is no atmosphere in space to protect human-animal DNA, the freeze-dried sperms survived and when back on earth, also led to healthy mice after they were rehydrated.
And not just any Tesla Car, this one was used by SpaceX founder Elon Musk to commute to work prior to launching it in space. In February 2018, the first test flight of the Falcon Heavy space launch rocket carried the bright red roadster, a Tesla sports car. The ‘Starman’, a human-sized mannequin dressed in a SpaceX pressure spacesuit sat on the driver’s seat and the car’s music system belted out David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ in a loop.
Back in 1965, astronaut John Young managed to smuggle a corned-beef sandwich onboard the Gemini 3 craft moments before it was to launch in space. On the way, Young took out the sandwich and shared a bite with his crew member Gus Grissom but the sandwich started to break apart due to the crumbly texture of the rye bread and Young’s words to his partner were, “It was a thought… not a very good one".
Over the years, many many odd and unique items have been sent to space. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin flight recently took a piece of canvas from the Wright Flyer, the first powered airplane flown by the Wright brothers in 1903 and also a bronze medallion to commemorate the first hot air balloon flight in 1783. His flight also prominently carried a pair of goggles reportedly worn by US aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.