NASA will launch its Orion spacecraft Thursday, and a collection of space-oriented pop culture artifacts, including a Captain Kirk action figure, will be aboard.
Mementos of Planet Earth's interest in space exploration are part of the payload on the test flight of the craft, which will eventually carry a crew of humans father than ever before, to asteroids and to Mars, NASA said. The Orion will lift off Thursday for a four-hour, two-orbit unmanned flight to check its safety systems and capabilities.
A Captain Kirk action figure, supplied by Star Trek actor William Shatner, will be aboard, as will other memorabilia from science-oriented films and television shows including Back to the Future and The Big Bang Theory. Marvel Comics' Iron Man will be represented, as will Sesame Street's Oscar, Grover, Slimey the Worm and Ernie, whose rubber ducky will make the flight.
A recording of "Mars" from Gustav Holst's The Planets, by the National Symphony Orchestra; a dinosaur bone supplied by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, "a reminder of how much life the Earth has seen;" a spare oxygen hose from an Apollo space suit and an artistic sculpture by astronaut Ed Dwight will also be on board.
Skylar Jackson of the Entertainment Industries Council, which worked with Lockheed Corp. to assemble the collection, said the artifacts-in-space mission will "further enhance the conversation among young people about the importance of space research and discovery for years to come."