The Strangest Things Humankind Has Sent to Space
These Crazy Things Ended Up In Space
If you haven’t heard of any of these stories, then you came to the right place. Prepare to learn all the crazy things that have ended up in space. Brace yourselves, we’ve got cheese, a toy dinosaur, a movie and… dirt.
A Memorial Spaceflight
A company called Celestis books “memorial spaceflights,” where the remains of people are sent into space with a SpaceX ship. For instance, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's remains were on the first Celestis flight in 1997 and again in 2012 when the remains of actor James Doohan were on that flight, along with the ashes of astronaut Gordon Cooper.
Also known as water bears, these eight-legged creatures live on the bottom of lakes, eating plants and bacteria. Strangely enough, they became the first animals that survived after being exposed in space. They were frozen to -328°F, heated to over 300 degrees and were still alive and even had offspring!
Coca Cola and Pepsi
It was 1984 and Coca Cola spent $250,000 to develop a can that would work without gravity and stay fizzy and not spill in space - they even changed the formula to make it all happen. NASA agreed, but Pepsi said they wanted to join in on this project. Long story short, four cans of Pepsi and four cans of Coke were taken on board of the Challenger and all astronauts agreed both beverages were awful.
In 1965 Astronaut John Young brought a corned beef sandwich on board of the Gemini 3. The conversation between him and Gus was recorded:
Gus Grissom: What is it?
Young: Corn beef sandwich.
Grissom: Where did that come from?
Young: I brought it with me. Let’s see how it tastes. Smells, doesn’t it?
The Lightsaber that Belonged to Luke Skywalker
Luke Skywalker lightsaber prop was sent into space in 2009 by NASA. It was on board of the space shuttle Discovery, which headed to the ISS. The crew attached a new module and two weeks later, they got back with the lightsaber that was later put on display at the Johnson Space Center.
A Toy Dinosaur
This year SpaceX launched the first crewed mission, and the highlight was a plus dinosaur, called “Tremor.” The ones that chose the toy was the crew’s kids. The sparkly Apatosaurus was used to indicate zero-g. But that wasn’t the first dino to go to space!
Astronaut Loren Acton took with him on the 1985 mission on SpaceLab 2 small bits of bone and eggshell from Maiasaura peeblesorum, a duck-billed dinosaur. The Mir space station also had a Coelophysis as a passenger 13 years later.
In 2018, Elon Musk made headlines with the Tesla Roadster floating into space as part of the Falcon Heavy test flight. There was even a mannequin dressed in a spacesuit, named “Starman,” sitting in the driver’s seat.
What don’t we do for science? Well, this is one of the strangest things taken to space on the ISS. Salmonella samples were taken to space to see how it reacted to low gravity. After spending 12 days in space, the bacteria became more virulent! That’s scary.
Onto less scary things, Pizza Hut advertised on a rocket in 2000. In 2001 it paid the Russian space agency around $1 million to deliver pizza to someone in space! Cosmonaut Yuri Usachov received a crispy crust, pizza sauce, cheese, and salami! It was delivered in a vacuum seal and Usachov loved it!
Since we’re on the Russian topic, soviets sent a triple barrel TP-82 to space - an essential item that would be used after landing in the Ural Mountains in 1965. Landing in the mountains meant cosmonauts had to face wolves and bears. Later in 2006, the weapon on board was a standard semi-automatic.
It wasn’t a regular watch, though. This was Amelia Earhart’s watch, the one she wore during her trans-Atlantic flights. Astronaut Shannon Walker received that watch in 2009 from Joan Kerwin and brought it on board of the ISS.
The “Fallen Astronaut” Statue
The Apollo 15 crew left a statue along with a plaque on the lunar surface in memory of the 14 astronauts and cosmonauts that passed away in the line of duty. The small aluminum sculpture was shaped like a person - this small commemorative art was actually meant to be a secret.
Pieces of the Wright Brothers plane
In space, astronauts had to go through two hours of high-intensity exercise sessions not to lose bone density. However, taking a species of fish that has transparent skin helped scientist on board of ISS learn that they could avoid exercising. They found the answer to the mechanism in bone metabolism and began working on an osteoporosis treatment.
Yes, that was too sent to the ISS to see how sperm works without gravity. There were sea urchin sperm samples, but what’s most interesting was that in 1979 two female rats went to space and got pregnant. However, they couldn’t carry their pregnancies to term. Meanwhile, male rats’ testes shrank, and so did the sperm count. The creature that had no issue reproducing in space was the cockroach!
A Colbert Treadmill
This object is called the “Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistance Treadmill”, or COLBERT. Stephen Colbert got so many votes to win the right of having a room of the space station named after him, that NASA had actually compromised to name the treadmill instead.
Galileo Galilei, Jupiter and Juno
In 2011, NASA launched its Juno mission and had on board three LEGO crew members: Galileo Galilei, Jupiter and Juno. NASA explained the Greek and Roman mythology, adding that they also chose Galileo who made important discoveries about Jupiter. The tiny LEGO Galileo even had his telescope!
NASA packed three green starter flags on Atlantis and sent them to space in 2008. That year, both NASA and Daytona 500 were celebrating their 50th anniversary and 50th running, respectively. The flags went back and NASCAR waved one at the Daytona 500’s start, one was gifted to the winner and one remained at NASA.
Ann Druyan registered her brain activity and etched the, on the Golden Record to send them in space so that alien life would discover it. As she recorded her brainwaves, she thought through a script, but also wandered on “the wonder of love, of being in love.” She was Carl Sagan’s fiancée at that time.
Astronaut Garrett Reisman was a huge New York Yankees fan. So he took a vial of dirt from the Yankees’ pitcher mound on board of the ISS.
On to funnier things, in 2010 SpaceX sent a wheel of Le Brouere cheese on their uncrewed spaceship to honor Monty Python. It was the first cheese that traveled to orbit on a commercial spaceship.
Buzz Lightyear Toy
For 467 days, a Buzz Lightyear toy was on board of the ISS before Disney World’s Magic Kingdom threw a party for the Toy Story character. Buzz Aldrin was there as a special guest!
Across the Universe
NASA beamed up the Beatles song “Across the Universe” towards the North Star. The song traveled the speed of light via NASA’s Deep Space Network. Will aliens ever hear the song?
“The Day the Earth Stood Still”
Songs and brainwaves may have beamed into space, but in 2008 the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still was also played in space on the opening day. Whoever lived in Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to our solar system was going to watch the movie four years later.
A Playboy Magazine
Apollo 12 crew members had a Playboy! Astronaut Richard Gordon found a topless DeDe Lind calendar in a locker.