News & Opinion | November 16, 2020 1:12 pm

Baby Yoda Joins Long List of Toys to Get Launched Into Space

For the love of all that is good, please bring him home safe

spacex
SpaceX/Unsplash

On Sunday evening, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully provided history’s first “commercial launch,” ferrying four astronauts (three from NASA and one from JAXA, Japan’s space agency) to the International Space Station. This is a huge deal. As a demonstration that the private sector can reliably transport people to space, it could have lasting commercial implications — namely, that space tours for the deep-pocketed are firmly on the horizon.

For now, though, NASA and SpaceX have agreed on a plan whereby SpaceX will regularly send crew members into orbit, to the tune of four astronauts every sixth months. This first team is named Crew-1. Their names are Michael S. Hopkins, Shannon Walker, Victor J. Glover, and Soichi Noguchi.

But the name generating the most buzz right now? Baby Yoda.

That’s right. The universe’s cutest, most-GIFable creature has been returned to his natural habitat.

The internet has been firmly back on the Baby Yoda beat ever since The Mandalorian returned three weeks ago (new episodes drop on Friday evenings), so outlets have been quick to note that the Crew Dragon appears to be using Baby Yoda as a “zero G indicator.” When the crew reached orbit and the cabin’s gravity slipped away, Baby Yoda began to bob around: weightless, adorable, home.

This is actually the latest in a long tradition of toys being launched into space. In the past, a stuffed dinosaur named Tremor and a plush planet called Earthy have taken rockets to the International Space Station. And in 2019, Snoopy was the only crew member on an unmanned Boeing CST-100 Starliner (here’s the Peanuts legend chilling in his suit before launch). Baby Yoda now joins the list, which only adds to his busy year. At the end of 2019, Disney didn’t have a single Mandalorian toy in stock ahead of the holidays, which led to a “Baby Yoda black market” on Etsy.

But this year, before his trip to the stars, Baby Yoda was already busy fighting wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, where beleaguered crews have passed the same delightful toy around, taking photos and gifting him small trinkets, like an American flag bandana. It’s unclear exactly where Baby Yoda goes from here (the moon?), but expect this content to keep coming — it’s a pretty safe bet the little guy will sell out everywhere over the next few weeks.

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