The European Space Agency has appointed the first “astronaut” to fly the Artemis I mission to the moon

science and exploration

08/02/2022
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A specially trained Sophie astronaut, Shaun the Sheep, has been assigned the seat of the Artemis I mission to the Moon. Sean’s mission was announced by the European Space Agency’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration, Dr. David Parker.

David Parker said: “Schoen’s mission concludes the first phase of our newest member of our astronaut team, with Italian ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti currently on the International Space Station on her second spaceflight, Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen named for his second flight and before we introduce new astronauts from the 2021 call for selection later this year.”

“This is an exciting time for Shawn and us at ESA. We are very pleased that he has been chosen for the mission and we understand that while it may be a small step for a human, it is a giant leap for an Aries,” added David Parker.

Shaun will fly on the Artemis I mission, which will be the first flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft with the European Service’s ESA module, planned to orbit the moon and back. This mission does not carry a human crew, but will be controlled from the ground with a wool specialist as a passenger.

Sean with a model of the Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission and its European Service Unit

Orion and its European service module will be launched by the Space Launch System from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. The spacecraft will enter low Earth orbit before blasting off the upper stage of the rocket to take it into orbit around the moon.

The spacecraft will fly over the moon, using lunar gravity to gain speed and propel itself 70,000 kilometers from the moon, nearly half a million kilometers from Earth – farther than any human or sheep has traveled.

In preparation for this flight, Shaun began an astronaut training and familiarization program for the Orion spacecraft and its European service unit in 2020, traveling to various locations across Europe and the USA to see different aspects of the mission. This training has been documented and will be presented in a series of ESA blog posts leading up to its launch.

With a passion for exploration, Shaun boarded a special Airbus Zero G ‘A310’ aircraft during one of its parabolic flights that recreate ‘weightlessness’ conditions similar to those in space.

Supervised by a team from the European Space Agency, this flight prepared Shaun for his role as a space traveler in his movie “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon,” which was released in 2019. It provided insight into the rigorous training that all astronauts undertake to prepare for his space flight, which He will now experience it for real.

“Aardman is excited to join ESA in making history by launching the first ‘lamb’ into space,” says Lucy Wendover, Aardman Marketing Director. As one of the first astronauts to command the Artemis mission, Shaun is leading the way in lunar exploration, which is a great honor for our adventurer. Mystic! 2022 marks the 15th anniversary of Shawn’s first TV series, so what better way to celebrate than to travel further distances than any sheep have gone before.”

Follow Shaun’s training on Artemis I and preparations for the first European service unit flight to the Moon here.

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