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 will join the unmanned mission when it hopes to launch later this year. With the announcement, Aardman’s beloved character will technically be the first ESA astronaut to join the Artemis program.

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

After one of its next-generation SLS rockets, NASA said Artemis 1 could launch. The mission will send the agency’s Orion spacecraft — as well as Shaun and — on a journey beyond the moon. If all goes according to plan, the capsule should return to Earth after 39 to 42 days in space. “The spacecraft will perform a moon flyby, using the moon’s gravity to gain speed and travel 70,000 km beyond the moon, nearly half a million kilometers from Earth – further than any human or human being has ever been sheep has ever traveled,” ESA said.

Aardman didn’t say that much, but Shaun will likely serve as the mission’s zero-G indicator. Since the Russian cosmonaut took a small doll with him on the very first manned space flight, it has become a tradition for astronauts to take a stuffed animal with them on missions. Even some unmanned flights took part in the exercise. In May, for example, Boeing’s Starliner capsule takes off Kerbal space program to the .

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