NASA taking Snoopy doll to the moon to check zero gravity is safe for astronauts

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NASA is sending a plush Snoopy doll to the Moon in a custom spacesuit next year in order to test zero-gravity.

The iconic cartoon dog will be put on NASA's new Orion spacecraft for a test flight as part of the Artemis I mission, which aims to put people on the Moon for the first time since 1972.

As the Orion capsule will be unmanned, NASA says that 'Astronaut Snoopy' is meant to be a visual indicator of when the spacecraft leaves Earth's atmosphere and enters zero-gravity.

"For Snoopy's flight on the Artemis I mission, he will be outfitted in a custom orange flight suit complete with gloves, boots, and a NASA patch," NASA said.

The space agency added: "Without astronauts aboard Orion, Snoopy will help share the journey with the world as he rides along in the cabin with a [mannequin] and two other 'passengers."

NASA also plans to release Snoopy-related educational videos for kids to teach school pupils about 'gravity, teamwork, and space exploration'.

The Artemis I mission won't be the first time the beloved 'Peanuts' character has visited space, after the cartoon dog left Earth in 1990 on the Columbia space shuttle.

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Snoopy has been an official mascot for NASA ever since the Apollo missions during the 1960s, when the Apollo 11 lunar lander was nicknamed 'Snoopy'.

For decades, Snoopy has even been used to award astronauts for their achievements. NASA's 'Silver Snoopy' award is one of the space agency's highest honours given to NASA staff.

These are silver pins featuring the cartoon dog, with each pin having travelled to space.

The Artemis I mission is the first of three 'Artemis' missions that will eventually return humans to the surface of the Moon.

The Artemis II mission will take people into the Moon's orbit, to lay the groundwork for landing the first woman and person of colour on the lunar surface with Artemis III.

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