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15 Weird Things We've Sent To Space That Will Really Confuse Extraterrestrials

15 Weird Things We've Sent To Space That Will Really Confuse Extraterrestrials

15 Weird Things We've Sent To Space That Will Really Confuse Extraterrestrials
Danielle de Wolfe
25 August 2015

Space. The final fronter. 

And also a veritable dumping ground of all sorts of weird stuff from Earth. 

Since we first started shooting for the stars, humanity has been taking all manner of objects into orbit - from golf sets to whisky.

This is the weirdest stuff we've sent to space. You'll thank us when it comes up in a pub quiz...

Andy Warhol's penis

Okay, not his actual man vegetable - a doodle by Warhol on a half-inch-by-three-quarter-inch ceramic chip was stowed away by the Apollo 12 was sent to the Moon aboard the Apollo 12 lander. 

The tiny 'chip' contained other works by Robert Rauschenberg, who drew a line, and Claes Oldenburg, who drew Mickey Mouse’s head on a pike with his tongue jutting out. Artists are weird.

A triple-barreled gun

Yep. Russian cosmonauts would carry a triple-barreled TP-82 pistol (with attached machete) on space missions - as recently as 2006.

The purpose? Not to engage in any Moonraker-like battles, but to help the cosmonauts defend themselves from the likes of bears and wolves while they awaited pick up after landing in the Siberian wilderness. 

Because as scary as space might be, Earth is actually just as deadly.

Luke Skywalker's lightsaber

The prop from 1983's Return of the Jedi was sent into space aboard Discovery shuttle-flight mission STS-120 in 2007. 

Why? To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the franchise. And because why the heck not.


The oldest whisky maker in Japan, Suntory is set to send six samples of whisky to the International Space Station - not to aid the pains of isolation suffered by the astronauts, but to observe the effects of zero-gravity on the ageing and maturing process.

Back in 2011, Scottish whisky Ardbeg won the space race in 2011 when it sent a unmatured sample of its malt to the ISS, to observe how zero-gravity changed its flavour. 

Golf balls

On 6 February 1971, shortly before Before Apollo 14 took off from the surface of the Moon, Alan Shepard hit the most unusual round of golf in history.

Shepard had taken two golf balls and a six iron on the mission with him, attempting to hit one ball three times, before having a better connection with his second ball.

You can read about his experience of playing golf on the Moon here.

Back in 2006, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin hit a golf ball while tethered to the outside of the International Space Station. All great fun - until it clatters into a satellite. 

Buzz Lightyear

In 2008, a Buzz Lightyear action figure went to infinity and beyond (sort of), when it hitched a ride on the Discovery mission STS-124. It spent 15 months aboard the International Space Station, before being donated to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

A spatula

Piers Sellers wasn't cooking when he lost this more bizarre item on a spacewalk. 

During the Discovery‘s 2006 STS-121 flight to the International Space Station, Sellers was spreading a heat-shield repair substance with the spatula when it slipped out of his grip. 

The £1,100 putty spreader, referred to by Sellers as a spatula, proceeded to hurtle towards Earth at 25 times the speed of sound, orbiting the Earth once every 90 minutes. Thankfully, it didn't hit anything, and burnt up in orbit.


The hadrosaur, Maiasaura peeblesorum, to be exact. 

Small bits of bone and eggshellwere carried by astronaut Loren Acton to SpaceLab 2 in 1985, making it the first dinosaur in space. 

Then in 1998, the skull of a small Triassic theropod Coelophysis was taken to the Mir space station. 

So even stuff that's extinct has seen more of space than you have.

The ashes of Gene Roddenberry

The creator of Star Trek is just one notable name to have had his ashes sent to space - including actor James Doohan, who played Scotty in the original Star Trek series. 

Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, astronomer and co-discoverer of Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9, is buried on the Moon. 

25,800 Australian text messages

Okay, so this isn't a physical thing we've sent into the deep, but a packet of information beamed at the red dwarf star Gliese 581.

Project 'Hello from Earth' was sent into space from the NASA Deep Space Station 43 back in 2009. It's yet to be seen if anyone picked it up - though if first contact takes the form of "G'day mate!", this might go some way to explaining it.

Charles Duke's family photo

Apollo 16 pilot Charles Duke left a little more than footprints behind when he took a family photo to the Moon in 1972. 

It's sort of the same as having a picture on your desk, right?

Sea Urchin sperm

In a study to test the effects of microgravity on sperm, eggs and fertilisation, sea urchin sperm was sent to the International Space Station this year. The thoughts are that sperm moves more quickly in space, while chemical responses in the receiving egg are more sluggish.

In case you were wondering. 

A football

To celebrate the 2014 World Cup, astronauts aboard the ISS were sent a football, resulting in a series of insane zero-gravity overhead kicks.

You can watch the awesome video of their antics here.

A wheel of cheese

The Moon might not be made of it, but a decent hunk of cheese did make it into orbit thanks to SpaceX.

Paying tribute to a classic Monty Python sketch, the wheel was a 'secret payload' attached to a test of the company's Falcon 9 rocket. 

Proof that rocket scientists are actually brilliant fun at parties. So long as there's cheese.

A Playboy calendar

Space can be a lonely, lonely place. Which might explain in part why the crew of Apollo 12 stowed away an image of Miss August in the command module Yankee Clipper.

Oddly, the crew didn't even know it was there, all part of an elaborate astronaut joke. Those crazy guys.