Science & Exploration
The specially trained woolly astronaut, Shaun the Sheep, has a seat on the Artemis I mission to the Moon.
Shaun is flying on the Artemis I mission, which is the first flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft with an ESA European Service Module, going around the Moon and back. This mission is not carrying a human crew but will instead be controlled from the ground with its woolly specialist as a passenger.
Orion and its European Service Module were launched by the Space Launch System from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, on 16 November 2022. The spacecraft entered a low-Earth orbit before the rocket’s upper stage fired to take it into a translunar orbit.
The spacecraft will perform a flyby of the Moon, using lunar gravity to gain speed and propel itself 70 000 km beyond the Moon, almost half a million km from Earth – farther than any human, or sheep, has ever travelled.
In preparation for this flight, Shaun began a programme of astronaut training and familiarisation with the Orion spacecraft and its European Service Module in 2020, travelling to various locations across Europe and the USA to see different aspects of the mission.