Pizza Hut, Dead Monkeys, And Other Crazy Things Launched Into Space!

Space. The New Frontier. A lot can be said of the universe beyond Earth, but there are probably even more unknowns that humankind has yet to uncover. Still, we’ve gone on numerous missions into outer space and many of the astronauts on those missions felt it was their duty to take a little something special into the great unknown. Read on to learn about some of the weirdest things that have been sent into space!

“Across The Universe” Is Played To The Universe

There was a lot to celebrate on February 4, 2008. Not only was it the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1, and the 45th birthday of the Deep Space Network, it was also both the 50th anniversary of NASA’s founding and the inception of The Beatles. February 4th was also the date that “Across the Universe” was recorded, so appropriately enough, NASA sent the song towards the star Polaris using a 70-meter dish in the Deep Space Network. The song traveled at a speed of 186,000 miles per second towards Polaris, which is 431 light years away from Earth. In his message to NASA regarding the occasion, Sir Paul McCartney said, “Amazing! Well done, NASA! Send my love to the aliens.”

Maybe It Will Really Work Up There

October 2007 marked the 30th anniversary of George Lucas’s Star Wars franchise, so to honor that, big plans were made for Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber to take a trip to space and back. The original prop lightsaber used by actor Mark Hamill in the original Star Wars film from 1977 was flown from Oakland to Houston, where it was to be handed over by Chewbacca himself at a ceremony held at the Houston Space Center. The lightsaber was launched on October 23, 2007, aboard the STS-120, lead by commander Pam Melroy and pilot George Zamka.

So That The Aliens Know What To Expect

When plans were made for the Pioneer space crafts, journalist Eric Burgess first suggested that these space crafts should carry a message from mankind. Astronomer Carl Sagan and NASA were both on board with the idea and developed plans for the Pioneer plaques. The plaques are made of gold-anodized aluminum and contain illustrations of a naked male and female as a part of the message engraved on the plaques. The figures were based on drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci and Greek sculptures. The plaques were placed on the antennae of Pioneer 10 in 1972 and Pioneer 11 in 1973, in case either spacecraft is intercepted by possible extraterrestrial life. Both Pioneer space crafts were the first human-built objects to escape the Solar System.

To Infinity, and Beyond!

Even Buzz Lightyear was sent into space at one point! On May 31, 2008, a 12-inch action figure of the beloved Toy Story character was sent into space aboard the STS-124 as a part of Disney Parks’ “Year of a Million Dreams” that year and it was Buzz Lightyear’s dream to achieve actual spaceflight. Buzz was sent to the International Space Station, where he spent about 15 months interacting with all the astronauts that came and went during that time. Upon his return, a parade was held at Walt Disney World in Florida, where Buzz Lightyear was followed by Buzz Aldrin and Mike Fincke, who was aboard the space station with the toy figure.

Can You Hear Me Now?

In 1977 when the Voyager 1 probe was sent into space, NASA decided to one up their Pioneer plaques with another object to communicate with extraterrestrials. This time, they sent the Voyager Golden Record, which contains a variety of images and sound that represent life on Earth. On the record are natural sounds, like rain and wind, musical selections from different eras and cultures, as well as greetings in 59 different languages. Voyager 1 surpassed the Pioneer space crafts and is now the farthest human-made object from Earth, having reached interstellar space.

An Out Of This World Publicity Stunt

Author Nikesh Shukla wrote Meatspace in 2014 and it had nothing to do with meat being sent into space. But that didn’t stop Shukla from using that idea to promote the release of his book. With the help of graphic artist Nick Hearne, Shukla sent a tandoori pork chop attached to a fork into space using a weather balloon. They recorded the endeavor by attaching a GoPro, which caught footage of the pork chop in suborbital space. The weather balloon eventually burst at 25,000 meters but the GPS feature on the GoPro stopped functioning, sending Hearne and Shukla on a five-month goose chase to retrieve the footage.

The First Pitch From Space

In March 2008, a little piece of baseball made it into space. NASA astronaut Dr. Garrett Reisman joined the Expedition 16 and Expedition 17 crews on their trip to the International Space Station. As a lifelong New York Yankees fan, Dr. Reisman carried dirt from the pitcher’s mound at Yankee Stadium, as well as a hat and banner of the team. To honor the once-in-a-lifetime experience, Dr. Reisman was given the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Yankees’ game that April. Of throwing the pitch, Dr. Reisman said, “I am really honored to have this opportunity in such a historic season in the House that Ruth built, and I would like to thank the Yankees for being so supportive of our mission up here in space. From Earth’s orbit, but still deep inside the Yankees Universe, let me say, ‘Go Yanks!'”

Astronomical Strides For The First Flight

When the Wright brothers made history with the first powered airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903, we’re sure they couldn’t have imagined how far scientific strides would take mankind from that point. To honor the flight pioneers, Senator John Glenn was asked to take along a swatch of fabric from the Wright brother’s first flying machine, when Glenn was scheduled to go into space in October of 1998. Glenn joined the shuttle Discovery on a nine-day mission in the cosmos. According to a 1998 CNN report, “Glenn [said] it’s entirely possible since each astronaut is allowed to take along a small container of personal items.”

This Could Explain Planet Of The Apes

Before the first humans were sent into space, scientists sent monkeys in our place to observe the biological effects of space travel. The first primate that was used for these experiments was a rhesus monkey named Albert, who was launched into space in June of 1948. Aboard a V-2 rocket, Albert only made it 39 miles in orbit before he died of suffocation. The scientists tried again the following year with another rhesus monkey named Albert II, who became the first official primate in space, but unfortunately, Albert II died upon impact after a parachute failure. Needless to say, scientists kept trying this while renaming all subsequent monkeys Albert, so there’s probably a lot of dead monkeys in space.

Living Out His Legacy

American physicist and space activist Gerard K. O’Neill is perhaps best known for his idea to build human settlements in space, which he started developing in the 1970s. O’Neill wrote the book The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space in 1976, which won the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science in 1977 and inspired a generation of people who supported the idea of space exploration and habitation. Considering the groundbreaking ideas he set forth in the realm of space exploration, it was only appropriate that when he passed away in 1992, a vile of some of his cremated remains were taken into space on the Pegasus XL rocket in 1997.

Sandwiches In Space Can Kill You

When astronauts are sent into space, they are usually packed compressed or puréed food to avoid any free floating crumbs that could possibly interfere with NASA’s expensive equipment aboard the space craft. Unfortunately, in 1965, astronaut John Young ignored the warning and snuck a contraband corned beef sandwich onto his mission. Once they were in orbit, he took it out, much to the amusement of his co-pilot Gus Grissom, who took a bite before the crumbs did actually start floating around. Although no harm was done, Young was reprimanded by NASA and Congress upon his return home.

Pizza Hut Delivers To Space

Pizza Hut can officially say that they are the first pizza chain to make a delivery to outer space. In 2001, Pizza Hut reportedly paid the Russian space agency $1 million to have their pizza flown into space with the help of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Usachov, who took the Pizza Hut pizza to the International Space Station. Pizza Hut had to conduct a series of test to formulate a pizza that could withstand the travel time and retain freshness until it was consumed. Instead of pepperoni, they used salami since it had a longer shelf life.

A Cheesy Joke In Space

In 2010, co-founder of SpaceX Elon Musk sent a commercial spacecraft, SpaceX Dragon, into orbit. SpaceX Dragon orbited the Earth twice before re-entering the atmosphere and landing in the Pacific Ocean. SpaceX then went out and retrieved the top secret payload of the spacecraft, which was only revealed after SpaceX Dragon had completed its maiden voyage. Musk then admitted that the top secret payload was a big wheel of Le Brouere cheese, which was a nod to the infamous Monty Python “Cheese Shop” sketch. Musk kept it the joke a secret so as not to overshadow the momentous feat of his company.

Selling Chips To Aliens

In 2008, The United Kingdom made their own strides in space history by broadcasting the first advertisement to outer space. The Doritos Broadcast Project invited British citizens to create a 30-second video clip that could offer a snapshot of life on Earth to any extraterrestrials that might be out there. The winner was a Doritos commercial that was pulsed out over a six-hour period in binary code towards a solar system that is 42 light years away from Earth in the Ursa Major constellation. The winner of the contest was 25-year-old Matt Bowron, who directed a Doritos commercial called “Tribe.”

Salmonella Is Even More Dangerous In Space

On two separate occasions in 2006 and 2008, scientists sent the salmonella bacteria on two space shuttle missions. What they found was that the salmonella bacteria became even more virulent in space, showing that the conditions in which the bacteria grows can affect how dangerous it will be if consumed. Julie Robinson, a program scientist for the International Space Station told, “This research opens up new areas for investigations that may improve food treatment, develop new therapies and vaccines to combat food poisoning in humans here on Earth, and protect astronauts on orbit from infectious disease.”

Large Strides For Little Legos

In 2011, three specially-made Lego figurines were made and set to join the crew of NASA’s Juno spacecraft on the journey to Jupiter. The figurines were made in the likenesses of the Roman god Jupiter, his wife Juno, and “father of science” Galileo Galilei. The figurines were made as a part of the Bricks in Space project, a partnership between NASA and Lego to promote education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for kids. The figurines were scheduled to arrive at Jupiter in July 2016 and were expected to intentionally crash into the planet.

Scotty Was Beamed Up One Last Time

In 2012, SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and carried some very special cargo. Aboard the rocket were the remains of 308 people, including former Star Trek actor James Doohan, who played Scotty in the 1960s television series. There is an agreement between SpaceX and Celestis which helps people launch their loved one’s ashes into space for a considerable cost. SpaceX allows Celestis to include a canister of the ashes as part of the payload on the space crafts that are planned to make trips into space or to the International Space Station.

Cool Dad Alert!

Charles Duke was an astronaut on Apollo 16, who on April 20, 1972, took his first steps on the moon. At the age of 36, he was—and still is—the youngest human to ever walk on the surface of the moon in history. His great feat was accented by the fact that he left a family portrait of him, his wife, and two sons on the moon, taking a picture of it to prove that he would do it for his sons. On the back of the photo he wrote, “This is the family of astronaut Charlie Duke from planet Earth who landed on the moon on April 20, 1972.”

These Creatures Might Survive The End Of Times

Have you ever heard of a tardigrade? Also known as a “water bear,” these minuscule invertebrates are known for being virtually indestructible on Earth. They can withstand intense pressure, extreme temperature changes, radiation, and can even go almost a decade without water, despite the name. Well, in 2007, scientists attached these little critters to a satellite that was going into space and found that these special little animals can actually withstand the conditions in space, unlike humans can. Upon their return to Earth, scientists found that most had survived and some even laid eggs that hatched healthy baby tardigrades.

Andy Warhol’s Questionable Contribution To Space

In 1969, scientists sent the Apollo 12 to the moon. On board that mission was the Moon Museum, a ceramic microchip that contains the works from artists of the late 1960s, including Robert Rauschenberg, David Novros, John Chamberlain, Claes Oldenburg, Forrest Myers, and even famed icon Andy Warhol. Warhol’s contribution included what many believed to be a questionable drawing, but he insisted that it was his initials drawn in an artistic way. Whether or not you decide to look at it with a dirty mind, just know that this was sent into space for all the aliens to see.