Life, uh, finds a way ... to hitch a ride into outer space.
SpaceX and NASA made history today by sending a pair of astronauts into low Earth orbit — the first launch from American soil since the United States' official rocket program ended back in 2011. While Crew Dragon capsule members Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are the obvious stars of the inspiring mission, they've been slightly overshadowed by a third and tiny passenger: a sequined dinosaur plush (identified as TY's Flippables Tremor Dinosaur) that served as their zero-g indicator.
One might even say that the plush (a contribution from the astronauts' young sons) has gone viral on Twitter, effectively putting the "Dragon" in "Crew Dragon." Per Behnken, who appeared in a free-floating feed from inside the capsule, the shiny and Beanie Baby-looking dino is indeed named "Tremor."
"Tremor also had a good night's sleep," Behnken said, detailing how they all settled in after the launch from Cape Canaveral. "I know that both of our sons are pretty happy about that, with their pet dinosaur making it into orbit and having a good night in zero gravity ... I know that we'll get Tremor through the safety brief and get all the education that's required, so that we'll have a safe operation while we're on board the [International Space Station] should anything come up that we need to be prepared for. I know that Tremor's also looking forward to helping us out with EVA preparations just in case we need to do a spacewalk and so, we're looking forward to that as well.”
Personally, we like to think the prehistoric stowaway represents a Jurassic Park-inspired analogy. Elon Musk is to American space travel as John Hammond is to bringing back dinosaurs from extinction. Or something along those lines. Cut us some slack, it's been a long day of reporting on Demo-2, and besides, the SATs haven't used the analogy section in years.
Getting back to the topic at hand, zero-g indicators are, as the name suggests, objects that let astronauts know when they've entered a state of microgravity once the engines cut off. Think of the floating pen in 2001: A Space Odyssey or "Earthy," the cute little globe with eyes, a mouth, and stubby limbs that was used on a Falcon 9-Crew Dragon capsule test launch from last year.
"We plan, once we get on board the space station, to reunite Tremor with Earthy and plan to bring both of them back to Earth," Behnken added.
That's one small step for man, one giant leap for all dinosaur-kind. Here's what the internet had to say about the sparkling and long-necked space explorer ...