When SpaceX’s first tourist crew exploded in Earth’s orbit, they took a fluffy stowaway with them.

The Inspiration4 mission took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Wednesday. SpaceX’s live broadcast of a camera inside the spacecraft showed four amateurs squeezed into their seats by the force of the rocket: billionaire businessman Jared Isaacman, geoscientist and science communicator Dr Sian Proctor, medical assistant Hayley Arceneaux and engineer Chris Sembroski.

They would soon become the first people to reach Earth orbit without a single professional astronaut on board.

As the Crew Dragon spacecraft settled in on its way around Earth, a stuffed doll began to float around the cabin. It was a golden retriever. In later footage, he wore a spacesuit, quite similar to the SpaceX pressure suits that human passengers wore.

plush golden retriever dog floats around insider crew dragon spaceship with four space suit passengers

A screenshot from SpaceX’s live launch broadcast shows a stuffed dog floating inside Crew Dragon on September 15, 2021.

EspaceX


Turns out this toy is based on two real dogs – Puggle and Huckleberry – who work for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The golden retriever and the goldendoodle help comfort children undergoing cancer treatment. They came to the Assistance Dog School Hospital in 2019.

Puggle and Huckleberry “sit with the kids when they’re scared, they go up to bed with the kids,” Arceneaux said on a video released by the Crew Dragon. “They’ll even go through the MRI machine or the CT machine before the kids, to show them it’s not that scary. And so we wanted to bring one of these really cute dogs into space.”

Today, Arceneaux works in Saint-Jude as an assistant doctor. But she first got to know the hospital when she was a child, when she received treatment for bone cancer. As a result, she has a rod in her leg and is now the first person in space with a prosthesis.

“Because of my cancer, knowing that I am sitting here today and that I can represent all these other children, it is the greatest honor of my life,” Arceneaux said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The plush puppy is on sale to raise money for St. Jude

Isaacman Aims To Raise $ 200 Million For Pediatric Cancer Research In St. Jude By Soliciting Donations in line and auctioning off items related to theft. This is on top of the $ 100 million he has already given himself.

As of Friday evening, the Inspiration4 mission had raised nearly $ 52 million.

Inspiration4 passengers sit inside the dragon crew spaceship seats dressed in white spacesuits

The Inspiration4 crew sits inside a Crew Dragon model spaceship. From left to right: Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman and Hayley Arceneaux.


EspaceX



The machine washable polyester puppy named Jude is available for purchase from the St. Jude website for $ 24, all profits being donated to the hospital. The assistance dog plush was sold out on Friday night.

It is a tradition that astronauts bring a cute plush toy into space with them as a “weightless indicator”. When it starts to float, they know they are in orbit. It is also the tradition that these toys sell after making their orbital appearances. Previous SpaceX astronaut missions have carried a shiny dinosaur, a Baby doll Yoda, and one penguin named Guin Guin.

Jude the stuffed dog and his human teammates are expected to return to Earth on Saturday, splashing off the coast of Florida at 7:06 p.m. ET.

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