Snoopy, who already has previous spaceflight experience, will be working with NASA once again as a zero gravity indicator on the Artemis I mission to the moon. 2021 Peanuts Worldwide LLC/NASA
The Artemis I moon mission is scheduled to attempt its third launch Nov. 14, 2022, weather permitting of course. It’s an uncrewed flight, meaning no humans will be on board, to test the Orion spacecraft’s systems. If all goes well, astronauts will be cleared to use the Orion craft for future Artemis missions.
Uncrewed doesn’t mean empty, though. Artemis I will have two passengers: Snoopy as a NASA representative, and Shaun the Sheep for the European Space Agency (ESA). Snoopy has spaceflight experience, as he previously flew on the Columbia space shuttle in 1990. I’m sure he’ll give Shaun some pointers.
Snoopy and Shaun aren’t merely going for a joy ride thousands of miles into space, however. They have a job to do: They’re zero gravity indicators. That means after Artemis launches and Snoopy or Shaun starts to float in the air, Artemis has reached the weightlessness of microgravity.
Snoopy, of course, is the wonderfully popular beagle created by cartoonist Charles Schulz in 1950. He’ll be wearing a bright orange spaceflight suit made of the same material in the human suits, along with cute little gloves and boots. He’ll even have an Artemis mission patch. Shaun will have a blue suit similar to those of ESA astronauts.
Why Snoopy, of all the cartoons in the world? In May 1969, the Apollo 10 mission “snooped” around the moon to check out the proposed landing site for the Apollo 11 mission that would land in July that year. The crew nicknamed the Apollo 10 module Snoopy, and the command module was nicknamed Charlie Brown after the dog’s cartoon owner.
There are also the fabric hoods astronauts have long worn under their helmets. In the Apollo era, these had big pouches on both sides of the head to hold communications equipment. They were known as “Snoopy caps” because they looked like the beagle’s black ears. Luckily for future Artemis astronauts, communications have come a long way in the past half-century, and the much smaller equipment no longer requires a bulky cap.
The specially trained woolly astronaut, Shaun the Sheep, has been assigned a seat on the Artemis I mission to the moon alongside his pal Snoopy.
Axonoff/European Space Agency