Shaun the Sheep recruited as NASA’s latest astronaut

In a wonderfully surprising turn of events, Shaun the Sheep will be flying on NASA’s Artemis 1 moon mission, set for August 29th.

Artemis 1 is the first in a series of tests that will allow humans to explore the Moon and Mars. Through the Artemis program, NASA aims to jump-start its exploration plans by over four years, establishing sustainable exploration by the end of the decade. The program also hopes to send the first woman and person of colour to the Moon.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is working in partnership with Shaun’s creators, Bristol-based Aardman Animations, to send the sheep – in doll form – on an adventure beyond the stars.

A long way from Mossy Bottom Farm, Shaun is set to fly beyond the Moon aboard NASA’s Orion spacecraft, returning to Earth after the month-long flight. This will be a solo mission for Shaun, the spacecraft’s only passenger.

The stop-motion star will be flying past the Moon, where the spacecraft will use lunar gravity to propel itself another 70,000km. This is further than man or sheep has gone before.

“This is an exciting time for Shaun and for us at ESA,” said David Parker, ESA’s director for human and robotic exploration. “We’re woolly very happy that he’s been selected for the mission and we understand that, although it might be a small step for a human, it’s a giant leap for lambkind.”

Shaun is currently preparing for his mission, undertaking astronaut training around the world and becoming familiar with the Orion spacecraft. He even flew aboard the Airbus ‘Zero G’ A310 aircraft, which creates a minimal-gravity experience similar to in space.

Aardman’s marketing director Lucy Wendover said, “Aardman is excited to be joining ESA in making history by launching the first ‘sheep’ into space. As one of the first astronauts to fly an Artemis mission, Shaun is leading the way in lunar exploration, a great honour for our woolly adventurer! 2022 marks the 15th anniversary of Shaun’s first TV series, so what better way to celebrate than by travelling farther than any sheep has gone before.”

We’re wishing Shaun the best of luck on his biggest adventure yet.

Image: Shaun the Sheep at the Bullring

Credit: Elliott Brown