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Baby Yoda plays key role on historic SpaceX mission to International Space Station

SpaceX sends first team of astronauts to space
SpaceX sends first team of astronauts to spac... 02:07

Four astronauts arrived at the International Space Station this week with a peculiar stowaway on board: Baby Yoda. A plush toy version of the beloved character joined the SpaceX Crew-1 flight as the team's "zero-G indicator."

Zero-gravity indicators are small objects that are allowed to float freely around the cabin to confirm when the spacecraft has entered lower gravity.

"We've got Baby Yoda on board trying to take a seat right now," NASA communications specialist Leah Cheshier said during a live stream of the historic launch, which marked the first operational flight of a commercially developed Crew Dragon capsule.

"Maybe Baby Yoda's trying to pilot the vehicle," Cheshier joked as the plushie landed in astronaut Victor Glover's seat.

"Baby Yoda says you guys can come back on board," Glover told mission control after entering zero-gravity, indicating the cameras could be turned on inside the cabin.

Baby Yoda joins an elite group of plushies that have served as zero-gravity indicators in the past.    

Earlier this year, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley brought as their indicator a sequined dinosaur named Tremor, on the first flight of an American spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts launching from U.S. soil since the space shuttle completed its final mission in 2011. The toy became an internet sensation, quickly selling out in stores across the U.S.

In March 2019, a plush doll of Earth was onboard an uncrewed test flight, according to a tweet from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Musk joked that the toy was "super high-tech."

When the crew arrived at the ISS late Monday night, Baby Yoda, known as The Child on the Disney+ "Star Wars" spinoff show, "The Mandalorian," joined the crew for celebratory hugs and cheers. 

The plush toy joined a crew comprised of NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, as well as JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi. In "The Mandalorian," the character often messes with his caretaker's spacecraft controls, making it the perfect choice for the SpaceX crew. 

Said Hopkins, "it's been an incredible journey. It's really amazing this is marking the start of operational crew rotation missions to the International Space Station. It was an amazing ride. ...We are looking forward to the next six months and can't wait to get started."

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