SpaceX's new astronaut crew brought a cute, fluffy penguin toy named 'Guin Guin' into orbit
- SpaceX launched four astronauts into orbit Friday morning, accompanied by a cute toy penguin.
- The toy began floating inside Crew Dragon as the spaceship entered orbit and reached zero gravity.
- The astronauts named the penguin "Guin Guin."
SpaceX's latest rocket launch included a special guest: an adorable penguin toy named "Guin Guin."
At 5:49 a.m. ET Friday, a multinational squad of four astronauts left Earth aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship, kicking off a NASA-funded mission called Crew-2.
"Now we have a fifth crew member," one of the astronauts, Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, explained during a live video tour of Crew Dragon in space.
The plushie appears about four minutes into the NASA video below.
-NASA (@NASA) April 23, 2021
The four Crew-2 astronauts - Hoshide, Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency, and Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA - brought Guin Guin into Crew Dragon hours before the launch.
NASA's live coverage of the Crew-2 mission began at 1:30 a.m. ET Friday, as the astronauts got suited up in their SpaceX spacesuits. After that, they said goodbye to their families, drove to the launchpad, ascended the launch tower, and climbed aboard the spaceship.
The penguin waited patiently for its time to to shine. About 12 minutes following the launch, at 6:01 a.m. ET, the spaceship slipped into orbit, and Guin Guin took flight inside Crew Dragon.
A SpaceX live stream showed the toy bobbing about the cabin.
"He can actually fly," Hoshide said. "Welcome, Guin Guin, to space!"
Guin Guin and the rest of the crew are due to dock at the International Space Station, at 5:10 a.m. ET on Saturday. They'll live and work there for about six months, before returning to Earth this fall.
The toy shows when astronauts have reached zero gravity
Spaceships have a tradition of carrying toys with them. Once the toys start to float around, observers and astronauts know the ship has left the pull of Earth's gravity. That's why the toys are often called zero-gravity, or zero-G, indicators.
"It was this cute, cute, fluffy penguin that's floating around in zero G right now," Elon Musk, CEO and founder of SpaceX, said in a press conference following the launch.
The stuffed animal is called "My First Penguin," Musk added. It's manufactured and sold by Jelly Cat.
"It's a penguin that our boys chose," Hoshide said.
During SpaceX's Demo-2 mission last May, the sons of NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley similarly selected which toy would go into orbit. The young boys are dinosaurs enthusiasts, so a sequined plush Apatosaurus accompanied Behnken and Hurley to the space station.
Six months later, when SpaceX launched its first full-length astronaut flight for NASA, Crew-1, the astronauts brought along a toy Baby Yoda, a character from the Disney Plus show "The Mandalorian."
- I was working toward a promotion at Amazon when my manager started emailing me about needing coaching. Now I'm worried about losing my job.
- Google's head of mental health and wellbeing was among the 12,000 workers laid off by the tech giant
- Mercedes-Benz says it has achieved Level 3 automation, which requires less driver input, surpassing the self-driving capabilities of Tesla and other major US automakers
- Big screen effect: Of French beards, marketing case studies & littered tourist spots
- Grit, tears, joy: Novak Djokovic claims his 10th Australian Open crown, moves closer to ending the GOAT debate
- Manu Kumar Jain departs from Xiaomi, nearly a decade after working for the Chinese smartphone maker
- L&T reports ₹2,553 crore Q3 net profit, sees boost from major private capex investments
- Tech Mahindra’s Q3 net profit slips 5.2% on year to ₹1,297 crore