On May 31, Saturday, Elon Musk's SpaceX became the first commercial company to launch a rocket carrying humans into orbit. Veteran NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken entered the International Space Station on Sunday after a landmark 19-hour journey on SpaceX's two-stage Falcon 9 rocket. During their journey, they were accompanied by a third crew member that lit up the Internet - a shiny, stuffed dinosaur plush toy.
The toy was spotted floating around the capsule in a video that has gone viral on Twitter with over a million views, leading to some questions about it was flown to space. "Two humans (and one dinosaur) went to space today #SpaceX," wrote Twitter user Brian Bosche while sharing the clip.
The video has collected over a million views and more than 4,000 'likes' since being posted a day ago. Many in the comments section speculated about the presence of the glittery dinosaur on a historic space flight - but it actually served an important purpose.
According to The Verge, the dinosaur toy acted as 'zero-g indicator'. Such toys have been flown with astronauts for years. When they start floating, it indicates that crew members have reached zero gravity.
The reason a dinosaur toy was chosen to accompany the astronauts is also special. Both astronauts Behnken and Hurley have a son each, and both the boys are dinosaur enthusiasts. Before the launch, they put all their dino toys together and a sparkly apatosaurus was selected to accompany their fathers into space. "That was a super cool thing for us to get a chance to do for both of our sons who I hope are super excited to see their toys floating around with us on board," Mr Behnken said.
This dinosaur toy instantly became a viral hit.
SpaceX even put the plush toy on its online store briefly, but it has since been removed or sold out, according to Barron's.
In 2019, an Earth-shaped plush toy was placed on a test flight of Crew Dragon, with Ms Musk calling it a "super high tech zero-g indicator".
Super high tech zero-g indicator added just before launch! pic.twitter.com/CRO26plaXq— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 2, 2019
Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley entered the International Space Station on Sunday. They were greeted by fellow US astronaut Chris Cassidy, as well as cosmonauts Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, all in the blue jumpsuits of the space station, which was launched in 1998 and first inhabited in 2000.Click for more trending news