Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley had company on their historic flight into space today: a stuffed dinosaur hidden in one of the seats of SpaceX's Crew Dragon.
The toy was discovered during preparations for launch on Wednesday and Saturday and quickly identified by geophysicist Mika McKinnon on Twitter as the TY Flippables Tremor Dinosaur.
Toys like this have been flying with astronauts and cosmonauts for years. When the toy begins to hover, it indicates to the strapped passengers that they have reached zero g and are weightless. In March 2019, a plush earth flew from Crew Dragon's unscrewed test flight to the ISS. Shortly before the start, Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, tweeted a picture and called the plush a "super high-tech zero-G indicator".
Little Earth or "Earthy" was a great success for the ISS crew and stayed on board after the crew Dragon returned home. Last year Behnken said he expected Earthy to welcome him and Hurley on board. "Hopefully he can guide us through the emergency letter and will be a full crew member until we arrive," Behnken said in an interview last March.
Dinosaur toys have flown on the ISS before. In 2013, astronaut Karen Nyberg (who happens to be married to Hurley) sewed a toy dinosaur for her son Jack on the ISS.
Astronaut Karen Nyberg's dinosaur on the ISS.
Dinosaurs Behnken and Hurley are expected to come to Earthy on the ISS tomorrow, May 31, after 19 hours in orbit. Docking is scheduled for 10:29 am ET and will be broadcast live on NASA television.