Many viewers noticed that the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft was taking off with an extra passenger on board: a stuffed dinosaur!
Social media users were quick to notice a plush blue and pink sequined dinosaur buckled into the spacecraft along with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley. The toy was later identified as a TY Flippables Tremor Dinosaur.
Shortly after the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule took off at 3:22 p.m. ET from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, viewers flocked to Twitter to ask if anyone else had noticed the floating toy.
"Was that a that a sequin stuffed dinosaur I just saw floating by the camera?" one user wrote, adding "It was so unexpected. I laughed so hard."
"HISTORY MADE! The first stuffed glittery toy dinosaur to launch into orbit #LaunchAmerica," another joked.
"Did anyone see the stuffed dinosaur in the capsule?" one person asked, adding, "I f—ing love astronauts."
While many were confused as to why the dinosaur was included in the launch, it was not the first plush toy to head into space.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk shared last year that a stuffed Earth toy flew on an uncrewed test of the Crew Dragon in March 2019, sharing that the toy was used as a "super high tech zero-g indicator."
The plush, dubbed "Earthy," acted as a way to let the buckled-in passengers know that the spacecraft has reached zero gravity or a state of weightlessness.
Behnken later said in an interview that he hoped the earth toy could "walk us through the emergency brief" when he and Hurley next arrived.
Another reason behind the stuffed dinosaur could have possibly come from Hurley's astronaut wife, Karen Nyberg.
In 2013, Nyberg sewed a stuffed dinosaur for her son while aboard the ISS and sent him home photos of the floating toy.
Behnken and Hurley are currently heading to the International Space Station in a history-making mission that was originally set for Wednesday, May 27. Officials moved it to Saturday due to weather.
"It is absolutely our honor to be part of this huge effort to get the United States back in the launch business. We'll talk to you from orbit," Hurley said before takeoff.
The endeavor is being celebrated as the first flight of American astronauts on American-made rockets from U.S. soil after the last Space Shuttle mission in July 2011. (Since then, American astronauts have traveled to the Space Station on Russian spaceships that took off in Kazakhstan.)
It's also the first time that a private company, Elon Musk's SpaceX, has sent a manned aircraft into space — marking an important step for the future of the commercial space travel industry.
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