Yuri Gagarin became the first person to be shot into outer space, following the not-so-successful flight of Albert II, who became the first monkey shot into space. NASA will just have to handle that for the rest of its existence; however, once space flight became relatively safe for humans to fly, it became inevitable that astronauts, cosmonauts and other space-faring folk would begin to bring objects into space.
Some more useful than others, this list includes strange items that have been brought into space break that stereotype, revealing a hidden, playful side to the astronauts’ existence, such as pop culture collectibles, contraband food, x-rated materials and even the insane ramblings of a dictator. I’m not sure about the last one, but here are the top 10 bizarre items in space!
10. The Space Chair
As a publicity stunt shilling a new version of a flat screen TV, JP Aerospace was paid by Toshiba to launch a comfortable looking chair into outer space. The endeavor managed to get the chair up around 98,000 feet into space, using only a balloon. After rising to stunning heights, the space chair disengaged and fell back to earth, quickly disintegrating.
The goal of this strange launch was to discover the effects of microgravity on this type of bacteria, ostensibly to find out just how dangerous cheap buffets will be on Mars. Terrifyingly, the salmonella samples became even more effective at spoiling everyone’s day, becoming even more virulent. Scientists speculate that being in outer space fools salmonella into believing that they’re nestled in a human’s gut, spurring increased growth.
8. Playboy Magazine
NASA employees decided to bring an issue of Playboy into outer space during the Apollo 12 mission of 1969. A spread of Miss August 1967, one DeDe Lind, was attached to the checklists affixed to the wrists of Alan L. Bean and Pete Conrad. She was also hidden away in a locker that contained a “Map of a Heavenly Body”, found by Richard Gordon while in orbit of the moon.
One of the most strange and adorable microfauna on earth are the tardigrades. These tiny animals, nicknamed ‘Water Bears’, usually measure no more than 1 mm long, but have proven to be the hardiest space faring animal discovered on earth. After being blasted into outer space, dehydrated, heated to 300 degrees, chilled to -328 degrees and, finally, exposed to outer space, researchers found that 68 percent of the hardy tardigrades survived when rehydrated in the lab.
6. Triple Barrel Shotgun
Soviet cosmonauts were the wild west version of America’s astronauts, blasting into orbit fully loaded with serious munitions. After an incident in which cosmonauts returned back to earth and became stuck on the Ural mountain range, the Soviets figured they needed to arm their cosmonauts in order to prevent them from being eaten by wolves after surviving one of the most amazing journeys that a human being can undertake.
5. Corned Beef Sandwich
The Gemini III space mission in 1965 featured John Young and Gus Grissom hurtling into the great unknown, as humans normally do. When in orbit, Young dug into his pocket and revealed something that, to Grissom, was a UFO. This contraband sandwich was enjoyed by both adventurers before Young slipped the sandwich back into his pocket, where all partially-eaten food should be stored.
4. Crude Capitalism
The first series of space flights for the United States took place during the Project Mercury missions, in which astronaut Gus Grissom piloted the second-ever flight. Gus decided to make a little extra cash by bringing three dollar bills, 50 dimes, a few models of his capsules and a couple of pilot’s wings into space. The extra weight wasn’t helping when he almost drowned in his own space suit, having to leave the items behind.
3. Remains of the Star Trek Cast and Creator
Creator of Star Trek Gene Roddenberry passed away in 1991 , around the time Star Trek: TNG was becoming wildly popular, while actor James Doohan, who played engineer Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott, passed away in 2005 after battling complications due to pneumonia. James Doohan’s will stated that he wanted his ashes shot into space after his death, which was fulfilled in May 2007 through a private rocket which transported his remains into outer space for a brief period of time before they crashed back into a New Mexico desert.
2. Luke’s Lightsaber
Because Star Wars hasn’t quite penetrated all media markets around the universe, a human dressed as Chewbacca the Wookie delivered the actual lightsaber wielded by Mark ‘Luke Skywalker’ Hamill in the 1983 indie smash hit Return of the Jedi to the space center. A group of other people wearing Star Wars related clothing eventually received the treasure and transferred in onto Discovery mission STS-120, where it was flown into outer space before returning back to California.
1. Ruhnama: The Book of the Soul
The weirdest item sent into outer space is thanks to the whims of the dictator of Turkmenistan, President-for-Life Saparmurat Niyazov. Published in 2001, Ruhnama: The Book of the Soul, is a moral diatribe that all citizens of Turkmenistan have to read under the ridiculous laws of that nation. Dictator Niyazov spent an unknown amount of money to have his book sent into outer space with Japanese satellites.