9 Unusual Things That Astronauts Brought to Space

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Photo by Lucasfilm

When you're traveling to space, everything that goes with you—from personal effects to historical items—has to be small and lightweight. Over the span of human spaceflight, some pretty weird things have made the trip. Here are a few of them.

1. Silver Snoopy Pins

In 1968, NASA began an initiative to award select employees with a silver Snoopy lapel pin as part of their Manned Flight Awareness program. While the first awarded pins were not flown, each subsequent pin has been flown on a manned mission. Since 1968, over 12,000 pins have been awarded.

2. Marine Mammal Poster

For each mission, NASA astronauts are allowed to bring personal items that collectively weigh less than two pounds and can fit in a box the size of a book. One of these personal objects was a poster of marine mammals.

3. Jamestown Colony Cargo Tag

In 2007, astronauts above the space shuttle Atlantis brought a cargo tag from Jamestown, America's first permanent colony, which was established in 1607. The piece was returned to the Jamestown museum after its trip to space.

4. Dirt From Pitcher’s Mound at Yankee Stadium

When astronaut—and avid Yankees fan—Garret Reisman flew on board the space shuttle Endeavour in 2008, he brought a vial of dirt from the pitcher’s mound at Yankee Stadium with him. On April 16, 2008, Reisman threw the first pitch of a Yankees game from the International Space Station.

5. NASCAR Starter Flags

Also in 2008, astronauts brought three NASCAR starter flags with them on mission. The green starter flags were packed to celebrate NASA’s 50th anniversary, as well as the 50th year of NASCAR’s Daytona 500 race. Upon return to the earth, the flags were given as gifts: One went to the winner of the 2008 Daytona 500, one for public display at the Florida racetrack, and one for NASA to keep.

6. Piece of the Wright Flyer

When the Wright brothers first flew their rudimentary airplane in 1903, the aircraft only came a few feet off of the ground. In 1969, 66 years after the Wright Flyer’s maiden voyage, NASA brought a piece from the aircraft on its very first trip to the moon as a way to honor the famous duo.

7. Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber

In 2007, the lightsaber prop belonging to Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) was taken on a mission to the International Space Station. Star Wars fans even escorted the prop to an airport in California to send it to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The lightsaber spent two weeks in orbit, and was later returned to George Lucas’ film company.

8. Moon Tree Seeds

During the Apollo 14 NASA mission to the moon in 1971, astronauts packed hundreds of tree seeds in their personal kits. Upon return to the earth, the seeds were germinated by the Forest Service and planted throughout the U.S. in 1976 to celebrate the country’s bicentennial.

9. Lego

How's this for meta? In 2012, Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa brought Lego bricks with him on his trip to the ISS—which he then used to build a replica of the ISS.

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January 6, 2014 - 11:00am
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