‘A giant leap for lambkind’: Shaun the Sheep will be ESA, NASA’s first ‘astronaut’ to the Moon

A popular sheep will soon be off to space, and while “it might be a small step for a human, it’s a giant leap for lambkind”. Shaun, the title character from the animated television series “Shaun the Sheep” has been selected as the first ‘astronaut’ abroad the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and European Space Agency’s (ESA) Artemis 1 lunar mission. The clever sheep who is known for his misadventures will soon be flying off – in plushie form. Later this month he will travel far beyond the moon aboard NASA’s unmanned Orion spacecraft before coming back to Earth in just over a month. As per an ESA statement, this voyage will be managed from the ground and will only have a woolly specialist as a passenger rather than a human crew.

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“This is an exciting time for Shaun and for us at ESA,” said ESA’s Director for Human and Robotic Exploration Dr David Parker in a statement, adding, “We’re woolly very happy that he’s been selected for the mission and we understand that, although it might be a small step for a human, it’s a giant leap for lambkind”.

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Shaun, who has a “keen passion for exploring”, flew on the special Airbus ‘Zero G’ A310 aircraft which simulates the “weightlessness” conditions found in space on one of its parabolic flights.

Shaun the Sheep in parabolic flight training

Shaun the Sheep in parabolic flight training. (Image credits: ESA)

Apparently, the mischievous sheep has undergone rigorous instruction which has been well documented, and in the run-up to launch, the ESA blog will publish a number of entries on this training.

Shaun’s real-life space voyage has been organised by ESA in collaboration with Aardman, the animation company that created the stop-motion sheep.

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Lucy Wendover, Marketing Director at Aardman says, “Aardman is excited to be joining ESA in making history by launching the first ‘sheep’ into space.”

Calling the mission “a great honour for our woolly adventurer!” she said that Shaun is leading the way in lunar exploration. What better way to celebrate Shaun’s debut TV series’ 15th anniversary than by travelling farther than any sheep has ever gone, she added.

(With inputs from agencies)

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