Astronauts on the Crew-5 mission of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) paid tribute to the eminent theoretical scientist Albert Einstein on their way to the International Space Station (ISS).

The crew of SpaceX’s Dragon spaceship “Endurance” unveiled their selected “zero-g indication” upon reaching Earth orbit on Wednesday (Oct. 5), a stuffed animal of the late theoretical physicist.

The doll, floating at the end of a tether, proved that the Crew-5 astronauts were safely traveling to the International Space Station and that one of Einstein’s hypotheses was accurate.

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About Zero-G

Zero-g indications alert the crew members who are still buckled into their seats that they have reached orbit or are falling around Earth at a speed that causes them to feel weightless.

Before the first person entered space by rocket in 1969, more than 50 years later, Einstein had his “happiest idea” in 1907.

“We’re experiencing Einstein’s happiest thought continuously, as the International Space Station has been doing for over 20 years,” said Crew-5 pilot Josh Cassada (per Collect Space).

NASA Astronaut Says They’re Living Albert Einstein’s Happiest Thought to Space

(Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
A miniature statue of Albert Einstein is seen in an exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of the publication of late German-born physicist Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity at a science museum on July 1, 2005, in Seoul, South Korea.

Albert Einstein Doll Flies Together With Astronauts to ISS

The Crew Dragon’s commander and pilot are NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada. Koichi Wakada of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Anna Kikina of Roscosmos are their fellow mission specialists. Except for Wakada, who has made four missions to space as part of the Space Shuttle program, every other astronaut is leaving the planet for the first time.

It is the first time a scientist has also made it to the Crew Dragon during the voyage to orbit, thanks to the Crew 5 mission’s decision to use a toy Albert Einstein figurine as their zero-g indication. After completing the first part of their mission and around 30 minutes after launch, the crew made their decision public when the Crew Dragon’s hatch opened, and it detached from Falcon 9’s second stage.

Astronaut Cassada spoke on their behalf and said that Einstein was essential in understanding how objects float in gravity and that what they were experiencing was his ideas. This was part of the first transmission from the crew following liftoff.

According to Cassada, the Crew-5 team called the Einstein doll as the little guy their “free-fall indicator.”

“We’re here to tell you that there’s plenty of gravity up here; in fact, that is what is keeping us in orbit right now and preventing this trip on Crew Dragon from being a one-way trip,” the astronaut said in a Space.com report.

Einstein, Other Plush Toys Who Went to ISS

The Unemployed Philosophers Guild, a specialty store providing “thoughtful gifts for thinking people,” created Crew-5’s free-fall indicator as part of their “Little Thinker” line of dolls. The 28-cm-tall (11-inch) plush version of Albert Einstein has the physicist’s distinctively wild white hair and is clad in a gray pullover and black leggings.

Einstein has now joined a small but expanding group of dolls that have been to the space station on SpaceX flights. Previous zero-g indications have included a plush Earth globe, a sequined dinosaur, a toy Grogu, Star Wars Baby Yoda, a baby penguin, a few turtles, a stuffed dog, and a monkey.

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