The force is strong with this team of four NASA astronauts, who arrived at the International Space Station with a tiny stowaway – a plush Baby Yoda.
Dragon commander Mike Hopkins, physicist Shannon Walker, Navy Cmdr. Victor Glover, Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi and the little sensation from the Disney Plus show “The Mandalorian” were welcomed with open arms as they floated into the ISS late Monday.
The honorary astronaut — aka “The Child” in the “Star Wars” spin-off – actually has a traditional role as what’s known as a “zero G indicator,” a small object the crew uses to determine when their spacecraft has reached microgravity environment, The Verge reported.
Yoda was seen bobbing freely when the Crew Dragon separated from its Falcon 9 rocket en route to the space station.
“We’ve got Baby Yoda on board trying to take a seat right now,” NASA communications specialist Leah Cheshier said during a livestream, according to Business Insider.
“I think that’s Victor Glover’s seat, so I hope he doesn’t mind,” SpaceX engineer Jessica Anderson said.
“Maybe Baby Yoda’s trying to pilot the vehicle,” Cheshier responded.
SpaceX astronauts have brought along plush friends before, including in March 2019, when SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted an image of a test launch that included a doll named Buddy, CNN reported.
“Super high tech zero-g indicator added just before launch!” he wrote, adding that the toy was “going to float around in zero gravity.”
And in May 2020, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley also brought along a stuffed dinosaur named Tremor, which their sons picked out, according to The Verge.
Both Buddy and Tremor quickly sold out in stores after making their orbital appearances.
It was unclear which of the many Baby Yoda plushies on the market is aboard the Crew Dragon, Business Insider reported.
“Wondering if we might hear a little bit more about that later, that choice, but does look like another crew member floating around with them,” Anderson said.
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