Satellites, spaceships, and... a corned beef sandwich? No, this isn't the design concept for an outer space-themed deli. These are just some of the things we here on Earth have launched into the cosmos. Sure, it makes sense to send satellites and spaceships into orbit, but a sandwich? Yet, as it turns out, there are far stranger things floating around up there than just somebody's lunch.
1. Buzz Lightyear
In 2008 the action figure Buzz Lightyear arrived at the International Space Station aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. The toy spent the next 15 months in orbit during the STS-128 mission. The little plastic space cadet was selected for this special mission as part of an educational program between NASA and Disney.
2. Dinosaur bones
In 1985 and 1998, astronauts took dinosaur bones into orbit. The first round of fossils came from a baby Maiasaura, making it the first dinosaur in space. They were taken care of by astronaut Loren Acton during his trip to SpaceLab 2. Endeavor, in 1998, took the skull of a Coelophysis to the Mir space station.
3. Luke Skywalker's lightsaber — and other Star Wars toys
In 2007 Star Wars celebrated its 30th anniversary in serious style. The prop, from Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi, spent two weeks in space aboard the space shuttle Discovery for its mission STS-120. Seasoned astronaut Jim Reilly could see the symbolic connection. "A lot of what we're doing right now was science fiction when I was growing up," he said at the time. "I think it's a neat link because it combines two space themes all at one time."
4. Doritos ad
In 2008 the EISCAT European space station used an array of radars to beam an ad, coded in binary, toward a solar system in the Ursa Major constellation. That ad was for Doritos, which needed to make a donation to the space station to get the ad broadcast. “It’s not big money, but it could be the thin end of the wedge to using our resources in a new way,” the EISCAT director Tony van Eyken said at the time.