Space Cheese and other weird items we sent into orbit


Some odd objects have made it into orbit over the years of human space exploration. The International Space Station alone has hosted everything from Disney toys to sci-fi uniforms to historic artifacts.

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You don’t have to be on Earth to cosplay. European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took time out from her scientific mission onboard the International Space Station last year to dress up as Captain Kathryn Janeway from the Star Trek series „Voyager.“ The red-and-black costume earns double cool points for the Star Trek reference and for being an unusual item to have on hand when you’re orbiting the Earth.


Fictional character Buzz Lightyear from Disney’s „Toy Story“ movies got a very real-life lift to the International Space Station back in 2008 when a Lightyear figurine hitched a ride with NASA’s Space Shuttle Discovery. It’s not quite going to infinity, but the toy definitely went well beyond what its Earth-bound brethren are capable of.


Lego pieces in space sound like either the most wonderful thing ever or the most hazardous. On one hand, you can’t step on the pieces barefoot because you’re busy floating around. On the other hand, you don’t want them to get loose and clog up your important space station systems. Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa built a Lego model of the ISS during his stay in 2012. He crafted it inside a containment unit to prevent the bricks from floating away.


Astronaut Scott Kelly is in the midst of spending a whole year onboard the International Space Station. He celebrated the 2015 holiday season using some decorations brought up by a previous crew. This small decorated Christmas tree gets pulled out in December to cheer up the look of the ISS. Kelly tweeted his own photo of the decor with Earth in the background on December 25, 2015, along with this message: „Woke up this morning with the greatest gift under our #Christmas tree. Maybe we’ll keep it up until March. #YearInSpace.“


The Space Shuttle Challenger took off on its fifth flight in 1984. It had quite a few lifeforms onboard, most of which weren’t human. NASA sent along a group of honeybees to study how they make honeycomb in microgravity. It’s a good thing the bees stayed contained during the mission. There were more that 3,400 worker bees and one queen along for the ride.


NASA astronaut Jim Reilly poses with R2-D2 and Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber from Star Wars in this picture from 2007. The image was taken prior to the lightsaber hilt heading out on a space adventure of its own aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. The prop handle got a turn on screen during „Return of the Jedi.“ It was packed in foam and sent up to spend two weeks in orbit around Earth before being returned to Lucasfilm, the company behind Star Wars.


SpaceX successfully sent its Dragon spacecraft into orbit in 2010. The craft carried a top secret payload that was later revealed to be a big wheel of cheese. This image of a container sporting a cow in boots shows how SpaceX secured the cheese for the flight. The decision to send cheese into orbit was inspired by British comedy troupe Monty Python’s famous cheese sketch involving a cheese shop customer reciting every kind of cheese imaginable. The chosen cheesy comestible was Le Brouere, a French creation that’s somewhat similar to Gruyere.


Amelia Earhart is a famous historical figure known for her flying exploits. She disappeared on a flight in 1937, and her ultimate fate is still unknown. NASA decided a fitting tribute to the intrepid explorer would be to send her watch to the space station in 2010. The watch traveled with Earhart on her two transatlantic flights and was escorted into space by astronaut Shannon Walker.


You might notice that this cargo tag that flew into space doesn’t look like a modern, high-tech NASA item. That’s because it’s a lead tag from Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. The tag originally traveled by ship across the ocean. In 2007, it took a much longer trip up into orbit onboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis. NASA notes that the well-traveled tag would go on to tally „more than four million miles over four centuries traveling from England to Jamestown, then to and back from the International Space Station“ over the course of its voyages.


NASA’s Apollo 12 mission was the second to land on the moon. The astronauts had all sorts of tech gear with them to make the landing possible, but some pranksters sent along more than just tech specs for their space-bound colleagues. Astronauts Pete Conrad and Al Bean each received cuff checklists, small journals worn near the wrist on the spacesuits to help keep track of tasks. Inside those checklists were pictures of Playboy Playmates, thrown in to amuse the astronauts. This photocopy shows a censored version of Playmate Angela Dorian from Conrad’s collection. This sort of hijnks would probably be frowned upon today, but made it through NASA scrutiny back in 1969.