As part of NASA’s upcoming Artemis I mission, Snoopy is preparing for a flyby of the moon.
The mission, which is set to launch in early 2022, will be a test flight for NASA’s new SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft, which will help put the first woman and first person of color on the moon in the coming years.
A Snoopy dressed in NASA gear will serve as a zero-gravity indicator for the crewless test mission, allowing ground controllers to see when the spacecraft has escaped Earth’s gravitational pull.
Snoopy actually has a history with NASA dating back to the Apollo 10 mission in 1969. The space agency explains: “Apollo 10 astronauts Gene Cernan, John Young, and Thomas Stafford traveled all the way to the moon for one final checkout before the lunar landing attempt. The mission required the lunar module to skim the moon’s surface to within 50,000 feet and ‘snoop around’ scouting the Apollo 11 landing site, leading the crew to name the lunar module Snoopy. The Apollo command module was labeled Charlie Brown, after Snoopy’s loyal owner.”
During the Apollo era, NASA created the Silver Snoopy award, which is still given to NASA employees and contractors for outstanding work related to mission success and flight safety.
“Each silver pin given with this award, depicting astronaut Snoopy, was flown in space,” NASA said. “Continuing the tradition, Artemis I will also carry a package of silver Snoopy pins for future recognitions.”
NASA also hopes that including Snoopy in the Artemis missions will encourage children to learn more about space exploration and engineering, and the agency plans to release a slew of classroom-ready learning materials.
Aside from the Snoopy doll and Snoopy pins, the Orion capsule will also carry a manikin equipped with sensors that will help NASA learn more about how different stages of the flight will affect the human crew on the Artemis II mission in 2024 and the Artemis III lunar landing mission in 2025.
It’s worth noting that Snoopy won’t be making his first trip to space on the Artemis I mission. Snoopy also flew on the Space Shuttle Columbia during the STS-32 mission in 1990 and to the International Space Station aboard a Cygnus spacecraft during Northrop Grumman’s 12th cargo resupply mission in 2019, making him an accomplished space explorer.