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Human beings are some strange creatures. And we’ve done some strange things over the course of our evolution. For example, some ancient cultures practiced various forms of extreme body modification such as splitting skulls open with a machete, drilling holes into skulls, or binding feet to make them stay a small size. Other cultures performed human sacrifice, while still others cannibalized their fellow tribesman.
We’ve come a long way over the years, and while most humans don’t perform these rituals any longer, we still do some strange things – Such as sending some of the most bizarre, interesting, but weird things into space. And we’re not talking just your average barf bags and science experiments, either. Thousands of strange things have made it into Earth orbit – and beyond.
Pizza and other food
While Dominoes might be the first pizza place to initiate pickups at random points across the nation without a physical address, Pizza Hut beat their competition to be the very first pizza place to deliver to space in 2001. Apparently, at the cost of $1 million, the chain delivered the very first space pizza to Yury Usachov who was stationed at the International Space Station. Talk about satisfying a craving…
Other foods sent to space include a corned beef sandwich, although it wasn’t consumed. Also, a tandoori lamb chop, complete with a fork made its way into space in 2014 on a weather balloon. According to reports, it had a GoPro camera attached to it, which collected some really amazing footage when the chop returned to Earth.
Even a Monty Python tribute to a classic sketch resulted in a wheel of cheese being sent up on the Falcon 9, albeit in total secrecy.
Although it’s not food, it is related. Sort of, anyway. An astronaut was on a spacewalk, repairing a heat shield with a spatula when it slipped from the astronaut’s fingers. Ultimately, the spatula wound up in orbit around the earth, orbiting once every hour and a half, and eventually entered the atmosphere, burning up on the way back to the ground – that it never reached.
People… but it’s not what you think
For a hefty fee, if you’ve ever wanted to travel to the stars, but know you can’t do it while you’re alive, some companies will send your cremains instead. A number of well-known people have been sent to space after they’ve died – fittingly so in these cases.
For example, James Doohan, the actor who played Scotty on the original 1960s Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek’s creator, and Arthur C. Clarke, the successful sci-fi author. They all went to orbit the sun in 2014. Other notable names include Krafft Ehricke, a rocket scientist, the man who discovered Pluto, Clyde Tombaugh, and famed space scientist, Gerard O’Neill.
Audio-Visual samples and other media
No, we’re not talking about the SETI greeting. Perhaps the most famous piece of audio sent to space was a message from Paul McCartney and the Beatles song, “Across the Universe,” in 2008. It is currently speeding across the universe towards Polaris (the North Star), which is 431 light years away. The message sent?
“Send my love to the aliens. All the best, Paul.”
Another famous recording sent to the stars is now well on its way to the next solar system. Louis Armstrong and his Hot Seven was music launched on Voyager 1 in the form of a copper record along with songs from Chuck Berry and Beethoven, among others.
Sound samples such as sawing wood, rain, and a mother kissing her baby also blasted off. A number of photographs, diagrams, and drawings were sent as well – Probably most notably was the Andy Warhol drawing of a penis.
Even a Playboy made it to the International Space Station in 1969.
Toys and stuff
We’re probably all familiar with the Buzz Lightyear toy that made it to space in 2008, and fittingly so. Another fitting toy that made it onto the ISS was Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. Featured in the Star Wars movies, the toy made the trip in 2007 for the movies’ 30th anniversary.
Just recently, Crew Dragon, an unmanned test launch from SpaceX, sent a plush replica of the Earth named Little Earth to the ISS, where it still resides.
Ever wondered what it’d be like to play golf on the moon? Well, Alan Shepard from the Apollo 14 did just that. According to reports, he was able to launch the golf ball 200 yards, where it then stayed.
Other really bizarre and strange things
Astronauts printed the very first 3D item on the ISS using a Made in Space 3D printer sent to the station in 2014. While this seems bizarre, it actually has practical applications. If astronauts can print in zero-gravity, they may be able to save money in the long run, by saving space on future missions.
A hand X-ray. Yes, an actual X-ray. Not to be confused with what’s known as the “Hand of God,” which is an image of a cloud of dust that looks like a hand when viewed with x-ray telescopes. (A star had recently exploded and resulted in a pulsar wind nebula that looks eerily like a hand.)
Stephen Colbert made it too! But… not exactly. A treadmill made it to the ISS, as they often do, but this one was special. After Stephen Colbert trolled NASA’s contest, they decided to name the treadmill after him.
One of the most frightening strange things sent to the ISS was a sample of salmonella in 2007. Apparently, living in zero-gravity allowed it to change enough to make the salmonella more deadly. According to researchers, after the sample returned to Earth, researchers tested it by injecting it into animals. The results were horrifying. Hosts were three times more likely to die from the bacteria from space than they were from a normal salmonella infection.
Probably the single strangest thing ever sent to space that we civilians know about is… Sea urchin and bull sperm. Apparently, NASA wanted to test how sperm is able to live and move in a zero-gravity environment. They later found that while sperm begins to move “more quickly in microgravity,” the actual ability to fuse with an egg happens much slower.
Recently, in 2018, NASA sent more bull sperm along with human sperm to the ISS. NASA hopes that what they observed in sea urchin sperm and other samples is a fluke, which is why they’re using bull sperm alongside the human sperm. Apparently, bull sperm is “more consistent” so they hope to determine whether it’s the gravity or the sperm causing the effects.
And there you have it. Some of the seriously strange and downright bizarre things we as humans have sent to space. Face it, we’re still a strange species. But, we didn’t send any zombies… At least, not that we know of. Yet.
Featured Image: Screenshot via YouTube Video