He’s beloved by many children and parents and now Shaun the Sheep will go where no other lamb has gone before. To the moon and back!
That’s because Shaun the Sheep has been assigned a seat on the Artemis I mission to the moon, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced on August 2, 2022.
“This is an exciting time for Shaun and for us at ESA,” David Parker, ESA’s Director for Human and Robotic Exploration commented in a statement. “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.”
Aardman, the creators of Shaun the Sheep, said they were excited to be joining the mission to launch the first ‘sheep’ into space.
“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,” noted Lucy Wendover, Marketing Director at Aardman.
If Shaun successfully completes the mission, he could pave the way for the first human landing on the moon in over 50 years.
The Artemis mission is the first step in the next phase of human space exploration, as part of which NASA intends to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars.
The Artemis I mission is the first flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft with an ESA European Service Module. The mission is uncrewed and will be controlled from the ground, with Shaun the Sheep on board as a passenger, explained ESA.
After being launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the spacecraft will perform a fly-by of the moon, using lunar gravity to gain speed and propel itself 70,000 kilometers beyond the moon. Equivalent to almost 500,000 km from Earth, that’s further than any human, or sheep, has ever traveled, added ESA.
NASA said in a blog post on July 29, 2022, that it was targeting launch for no earlier than August 29, 2022 at 8:33 a.m. EDT (12:33 UTC) during a two-hour window. If successful, the mission will last 42 days, returning on October 10. Further launch opportunities are available on September 2 and September 5.