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The Strangest Things NASA’s Sent to Space



NASA achieved the impossible after participating in the space race, but the rewards for the US, and ultimately space travel as a whole opened doors that continue to lead to additional breakthroughs today. But did you know a lot of things have been to space besides humans…
That’s right, NASA has sent some pretty unconventional things up to space, and for a variety of reasons you probably wouldn’t expect. From toys to weird food and historical artifacts, here are the strangest things we’ve blasted up to space.

Lego Figures of Galileo, Juno, and Jupiter

In a joint effort between NASA and Lego, the Bricks in Space project was a way to get kids interested in educational space exploration. The little plastic people have been to the space station as well as Mars!

Space Apes

Back when space exploration was still a vast mystery (and before PETA), NASA sent numerous monkeys into space as test pilots. Unfortunately, some of them didn’t make it. Interestingly enough, however, almost all of them were named Albert. Today, NASA will occasionally send a chimp with a crew for ceremonial purposes (or just for fun).

Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Star Wars in 2007, NASA sent up on the space shuttle Discovery the actual prop replica of Luke’s lightsaber used in Return of the Jedi. It’s very likely that it got some attention from the crew along the way!

A Buzz Lightyear Action Figure

When the Discovery was shot into space in 2008, the crew couldn’t resist bringing along a little space man of their own. In fact, the astronaut toy from Toy Story was actually named after real-life astronaut Buzz Aldrin, making its inclusion in the mission even more appropriate.

The Beatles’ “Across the Universe”

NASA evidently thinks that the best way to make a good impression on any alien life is to provide them with the soothing sound of the Beatles — specifically their (very appropriate) song “Across the Universe.” The song was broadcast into space on the 40th anniversary of the song’s original album.

Meat Pie

While they claimed that it was a test to find out if the pie changed on a molecular level in space, really it was just one giant PR stunt. The pie was tied to a weather balloon and sent up 100,000 feet into the atmosphere.

Golden Orb Spiders

A pair of these arachnids were sent into space in an effort to research their behaviors when not in Earth’s atmosphere. The research was put together into educational material, and Sony partnered with NASA to create it in an effort to build hype for The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Thousands of Craiglist Ads

In an effort to let the aliens know what kind of beings we are, NASA broadcasted about 100,000 various ads from Craigslist, including one of someone giving away kittens. Maybe they wanted the aliens to see the more positive side of humanity in an effort to prevent them from exterminating us.

Sea Urchin Seeds

Scientists sent actual sea urchin sperm into space to study whether weightlessness makes the sperm move faster or slower, which in turn would positively or negatively affect its fertility.

Various Sound Clips

NASA really wants to make contact with those blasted aliens. In yet another effort to make a good first impression, they’ve broadcasted numerous sound clips of things like rain, a ship horn, twittering birds, and a mother kissing her baby.

The Day the Earth Stood Still Movie

When the Keanu Reeves remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still was made, the studio really wanted it to be broadcast into space on the day of its release for anyone out who might be on the lookout for a good movie recommendation. If you’re looking to watch it yourself but don’t want to pay to rent it, you could always just blast into space and watch it for free, courtesy of NASA!

Cans of Coke and Pepsi

In 1985, Coca-Cola and Pepsi were both looking to boost their brand recognition, and what better way to do it than launching your brand into space? Unfortunately, they chose the wrong shuttle: the Challenger.

Soccer Ball

When the shuttle Challenger exploded on ascension in 1986, it was carrying a soccer ball for the crew to use as a little onboard recreation. Incredibly enough, the ball actually survived and was recovered 31 years after the event!

Corned Beef Sandwich

John Young was an astronaut aboard the Gemini 3 mission in 1965. Not at all looking forward to eating NASA’s dehydrated food, he snuck a corned beef sandwich on board. It was a potentially dangerous move, since the crumbs could have floated into the spacecraft and caused malfunctions.

Playboy Clippings

When Apollo 12 launched in ‘69, the crew decided to bring a little “stimulation” with them. The crew later on included some of these clippings with the checklists as a joke.


The future really is now. You thought robots existed in sci-fi? These humanoid robots were created by NASA to assist in the long journey for the planned upcoming Mars mission.


If you’ve ever wanted the ashes of your cremated body flying through the cosmos, then you’re living in the right century. Celestis and Elysium Space are two companies that — for a nominal $2,000 fee — will carry your ashes into space and release them amongst the stars. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry is one such person who has utilized this service.

Amelia Earhart’s Watch

The legendary female pilot began a group called The Ninety-Nines back in 1929, and modern day astronaut Shannon Walker wanted to honor her legacy. That’s why she took Earhart’s watch with her on both the Soyuz mission and the ISS mission in 2010. Her scarf has also hitched a ride on previous flight missions.

Bird Droppings

While NASA didn’t intentionally take this into space, the bird poo was attached to the shuttle hull on liftoff. It had acquired over the weeks before launch, and even with the Florida rain it still didn’t wash off. When the shuttle returned after its mission, the droppings were still there!


Called “water bears,” these microscopic organisms are known to survive pretty much any environment they inhabit, so scientists thought they’d give them a try out in space. Evidently they did just as well out in the cold vacuum of space.

Cheese Block

When SpaceX CEO Elon Musk launched a wheel of Gruyère cheese along with the Falcon 9’s mission, he thought he was making a clever Monty Python joke (when John Cleese tries to order from a cheeseless cheese shop). His joke may not have landed with many, but the cheese did survive in space.

Pizza Hut

While NASA was wary to condone advertising aboard their shuttle, Russia had no such qualms. Pizza Hut offered their space agency Roscosmos $1 million to deliver a salami pizza to their astronaut Yuri Usachov. Talk about a long distance delivery!

Dinosaur Bones

Dinosaur bones have been taken into space twice — once in 1985 in the Skylab 2, and once in ‘98 on the shuttle Endeavor. Surprisingly, both times they returned to Earth unscathed.

Plenty of Guns

You know you’re going to a rough part of space when you go packing. Russian astronauts brought these TP-82 shotguns along with them in 2006, just in case they happened to land somewhere on the more hostile side.

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