Since humans figured out how to launch things into space, we’ve sent satellites, scientific instruments and other practical payloads into the cosmos. But we’ve also sent a fair share of unexpected items — most recently a Tesla as part of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy mission. Here’s a look at 10 of the most unusual objects sent into space.
Tesla Sports Car
In February, the first test flight of the Falcon Heavy space launch rocket carried one of the more unusual objects sent into space: a Tesla sports car. The bright red roadster blasted David Bowie’s classic “Space Oddity” as it was launched into a solar orbit that will carry it between the sun and Mars, according to Billboard.
One Giant Leap for a Dinosaur
A 1985 mission called Spacelab carried up what the Telegraph described as “bits of bone and eggshell from the duck-billed dinosaur Maiasaura peeblesorum.” This certainly may be one of the oldest objects that we’ve ever launched into space.
A Cargo Tag
While a cargo tag may sound pretty mundane, the University of Virginia reported that this particular tag was excavated by archaeologists at Jamestown, the first English-speaking settlement in what is now the United States. It went up on a shuttle flight in June 2007 in honor of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown’s founding.
Luke Skywalker’s Light Saber
2007 was a noteworthy year for unusual objects sent into space, including a light saber. As NASA reported, this was no ordinary toy store light saber, but the actual prop used on the set of “Return of the Jedi.” It was sent up to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars trilogy.
The Juno exploratory mission to Jupiter, which arrived in 2016, carried three tiny Lego figurines, per the New York Times. The figurines commemorate the mythological god Jupiter, for whom the planet is named, his wife Juno (the eponymous spacecraft) and the astronomer Galileo, who discovered Jupiter’s four largest moons.
Interstellar Calling Cards
According to Time, two probes — Voyagers 1 and 2 — have carried golden records since 1977 so whoever (or whatever) finds them can listen to music and the sounds of our planet. In addition to music, the records include a message from former president Jimmy Carter and 115 analog-encoded images.
Listverse notes that various famous people have had their ashes sent to space. Posthumous voyagers include Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, and Timothy Leary, psychologist, writer and psychedelic drug advocate.
Astronaut Alan Shepard, famous for the first American spaceflight, brought a 6-iron club and some golf balls with him on a return trip. The PGA recounted Shepard finding that practicing his swing in a spacesuit was not easy, but he did end up sending the ball soaring for about 200 yards.
The International Space Station
Comparable in size and weight to the largest airliners, the International Space Station has flown continuously while safely carrying a crew for the better part of two decades, according NASA. The space station is a stupendous achievement, paving the way for interplanetary missions that will fly aboard similar long-duration spaceships for generations to come.
More Than 500 Space Travelers
The fact that hundreds of people have gone into space is truly astonishing. Exactly how many have made the trip depends on how you count suborbital flights, or how high you have to ascend to be “in space.” WorldSpaceFlight currently counts 553 people who have gone into Earth’s orbit … and the number continues to rise.