Astronauts brought an extra crew member onto SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship: a Baby Yoda toy
- SpaceX launched four astronauts into orbit for NASA on Sunday, and the crew is headed to the International Space Station.
- The astronauts brought a secret companion onto their Crew Dragon spaceship: a baby Yoda doll from "The Mandalorian."
- It's now a SpaceX tradition to bring a "zero-gravity indicator" toy aboard spaceship launches. The first was a plush Earth doll, and the second a glittering dinosaur toy.
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SpaceX rocketed four astronauts into orbit Sunday night, along with a stowaway: Baby Yoda.
To kick off the company's Crew-1 mission — its first full-length astronaut flight for NASA — a Falcon 9 rocket spewed fire into the night at 7:37 p.m. ET, then roared off the launchpad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The rocket pushed a newly human-rated Crew Dragon spaceship into orbit, carrying NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, as well as the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency's Soichi Noguchi. But the crew brought a friend with them.
"We've got Baby Yoda on board trying to take a seat right now," NASA communications specialist Leah Cheshier said in the agency's livestream of the mission.
The plush toy was visible floating around the cabin of the Crew Dragon spaceship as it orbited Earth and the astronauts settled in to sleep for the night.
"I think that's Victor Glover's seat, so I hope he doesn't mind," SpaceX engineer Jessica Anderson responded.
"Maybe Baby Yoda's trying to pilot the vehicle," Cheshier added.
The Baby Yoda toy, a character from the Disney show "The Mandalorian," carries on a tradition in which spaceships carrying plushies with them as "zero-gravity indicators." Once the toys start to float around, observers know the ship has left the pull of Earth's gravity.
Baby Yoda's sojourn into Earth's orbit is part of a mission called Crew-1. The Crew Dragon capsule is set to dock to the International Space Station Monday evening, where the astronauts will live and work for about six months, constituting the longest human spaceflight in NASA history.
When NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley launched on SpaceX's first-ever human mission this summer — a test flight called Demo-2 — they brought a toy, too. Theirs, a sequined plush dinosaur, was the product of a vote by the astronauts' young sons, who are dinosaur enthusiasts. They chose to send Tremor the apatosaurus onto the ship.
When the Crew Dragon made its first test flight to the International Space Station with no astronauts on board, it also carried a plushie toy. That was an Earth doll named "Buddy."
Both Buddy and Tremor sold out of stores after their debuts in space.
It was not immediately clear which of the many Baby Yoda plushies on the market is currently onboard the Crew Dragon.
"Wondering if we might hear a little bit more about that later, that choice, but does look like another crew member floating around with them," Anderson said.
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