Human beings are naturally curious, so naturally, we have a deep curiosity about the great unknown that is outer space. The boundless, vast expanses of space surrounding our minuscule marble of a planet have become infinitely interesting to us and we are constantly looking to the stars for answers. Sometimes we are looking for the answers to life’s deepest and most meaningful questions like, is there water on mars? Or, how did humans come to evolve into our current state of being? While other times the question is as simple as, what would happen if we fired a Reuben sandwich into orbit. No matter the question we may be looking to answer however, there is something about the prospect of firing things into outer space that humans think is unbelievably interesting.
Ancient Jedi artifacts
Within the canon of Star Wars, it makes perfect sense for a lightsaber to wind up in outer space, after all, Jedi were always jumping from planet to planet in their role as intergalactic peacekeepers. But, in real life there truly is almost no earthly explanation as to why anyone would need a movie prop in orbit. But that didn’t stop the crew of the Shuttle Discovery from taking Mark Hammil’s prop from the 1983 film “Return of the Jedi” up with them in 2007 to commemorate the 30-Year anniversary of the release of “A New Hope.”
Not bugs, The Beatles
Everyone has seen scientists bringing bugs up to outer space with them to do experiments in movies. But, did you know that a single by the seminal 1960s rock band, The Beatles was sent up as well? Their classic single “Across The Universe” was launched out of the stratosphere by NASA’s Deep Space Network and is currently on its way to The North Star, Polaris, at a speed of 300,000 kilometers per second. The single was also sent with a message from Paul McCartney himself saying, “Send my love to the aliens. All the best, Paul.” Once it arrives, it will be 431 lightyears away from Earth or effectively clear across the universe.
Everything is awesome
Jupiter is named after the Roman King of the Gods, it is the largest of all the planets in our solar system, and it is befitting of a name that matches its status. When a NASA spacecraft was sent up to do research on the giant gaseous planet it was sent up with three Lego figurines. Two of them were Jupiter and his wife Juno, as well as little Lego Galileo Galilei, the astronomer who discovered and named the colossal planet. Maybe they were location scouting for the next Lego movie.
Water bears on the Moon
Tardigrades are tiny creatures that look something like a mix of a caterpillar and a teddy bear, and they can survive in some of the most extreme conditions imaginable. The tiny critters are so resilient, they can survive the extreme cold of Antarctica, the blistering heat of the Gobi desert, you can even dehydrate the little suckers and they will keep on kicking. In 2007 a privately funded Israeli space mission blasted several of them into orbit for research as part of a race put on by Google, to land a robot on the moon. The Israeli mission was unsuccessful in accomplishing that lunar landing as the craft crash-landed into Earth’s only satellite, but they were successful in leaving some little living creatures on the moon. I guess there is life in outer space after all.
Pizza the Hut: Origins
So maybe Mel Brooke’s classic character from “SpaceBalls” wasn’t actually born of pizza in space. But, that doesn’t mean that in the year 2000 Pizza Hut didn’t pay an exorbitant amount of money to become the first pizza delivered outside of our stratosphere. At the turn of the Millenium, the big wigs at the top of the Pizza Hut food chain spent just shy of 800,000 euro to have a personal pie delivered to Russian astronaut Yuri Usachov. They had to use salami instead of pepperoni due to it’s much longer shelf life, and they had to add extra spices due to outer space’s effects on the taste buds. But it still stands as the first pizza delivery in outer space … that we know of.