SpaceX's historic launch hurled a sequined plush dinosaur into space with NASA astronauts

NASA TVAstronaut Bob Behnken pushes aside a plush dinosaur toy floating around the cabin of the Crew Dragon as it reaches low-Earth orbit, May 30, 2020.

SpaceX launched its most precious cargo yet into space on Saturday: two NASA astronauts and a plush, sequined dinosaur toy.

At 3:22 p.m. ET, a Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying the Crew Dragon spaceship that SpaceX designed and NASA funded. It’s the first time a commercial spacecraft has carried humans into space, and the first time astronauts have launched from the US since the end of the Space Shuttle Program nine years ago.

It’s also the first time a sequined dinosaur has been to space. (Though dinosaur fossils have travelled beyond our atmosphere before.)

The toy carries on a tradition of spaceships carrying plushies with them. Once the toys start to float around, observers know the ship has left the pull of Earth’s gravity. That’s why they’re often called “zero-gravity indicators.”

Spacex demo 2 launch plush dinosaur toyNASA TVAstronaut Bob Behnken pushes aside a plush dinosaur toy floating around the cabin of the Crew Dragon as it reaches low-Earth orbit, May 30, 2020.

About 10 minutes after launch, the plushie appeared in NASA’s live feed of the Crew Dragon, where it was floating around the cabin of the spaceship. It drifted towards Behnken, and he pushed it aside.

“Looks like we saw our zero-G indicator floating around there,” a NASA commentator said as the dinosaur appeared. “I know Bob and Doug owe us a little bit about what exactly that is that they brought up with them.”

It is unclear who picked out the dinosaur, why they chose it, or whether it has a name.

Observers first spotted the dinosaur in NASA’s live feed of launch preparations on Wednesday, when the rocket was first scheduled to liftoff (and then delayed due to poor weather).

Screen Shot 2020 05 30 at 2.38.38 PMNASA TVA plushie dinosaur sits in the seat of the Crew Dragon next to astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley as they prepare for their first launch attempt, May 27, 2020.

Geophysicist Mike McKinnon suggested on Twitter that the plushie could be a TY Flippables Tremor Dinosaur.

When the Crew Dragon made its first test flight to the International Space Station, with no astronauts on board, it carried a plushie Earth named “Buddy.” The toy later sold out in stores.

However, TY no longer manufactures the Tremor Dinosaur. It is out of stock on Amazon, Walmart, and Barnes and Noble.

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