– The zero-g pointer flying on the second special mission to the International Space Station may be the first thing that needs to be assembled.
The product of a partnership between stuffed animal retailer Build-A-Bear Workshop and Axiom Space, the space services company that organized the launch, the Axiom-2 (Ax-2) Zero-g Index is the first Build-A-Bear teddy bear to fly in space. Called “GiGi,” this fluffy toy is dressed in a scaled-down version of Axiom’s Axiom spacesuit, which the next U.S. astronauts will wear to walk on the moon.
“Guests dream big at Build-A-Bear, and the opportunity to partner with Axiom Space as part of the Ax-2 mission and send GiGi, the fifth furry crew member, into space is a special honor that we hope will inspire young people around the world,” said Sharon Price-John. “Globals reach for the stars, pursue adventures and follow their passions,” President and CEO of Build-A-Bear said in a statement. “With Build-A-Bear’s 25-year history of creating special moments, GiGi wears the next-generation spacesuit, He has an amazing opportunity to be a part of history as the zero gravity pointer for the Ax-2 crew.
Ax-2 Commander Peggy Whitson, Pilot John Shoffner, and Mission Specialists Ali Al-Qarni and Rayana Barnawi will watch as the GiGi begin to float inside their SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to signal their entry into the microgravity (or “zero-gravity”) environment of space after 9 minutes. from ascending to Earth’s orbit. A tradition that began in the former Soviet Union with the launch of the first human into space in 1961, zero pointers have since been adopted by flight crews on SpaceX and other US vehicles.
Previous dolls have included “Suhail,” the symbol of the UAE’s astronaut program, now housed on the space station with SpaceX6 crew members, and Caramel, the mascot of the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation, which was flown by the Ax-1 crew in 2022.
The Ax-2 crew hopes that students from around the world will look at GiGi and be inspired to learn more about space exploration and consider careers in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) fields.
“JG is designed and built for the next generation of space explorers,” said Sandra Nelson, vice president of marketing at Axiom Space, “that will enable us to explore beyond, build a sustainable future in low Earth orbit and achieve intense science.” research that can be achieved through their involvement and active participation in STEAM.”
Young kids and enthusiasts can follow GiGi’s journey on her blog, which is designed to help kids see themselves through her “unlovable” experience.
“As a young cub, I was always drawn to math and science projects. After the gift of a telescope one summer, I felt connected to the stars in a way I hadn’t before, and I knew STEAM studies were right for me,” GiGi’s blog reads. “Now as a full-time astronomer and aspiring astronaut, I am over the moon to be a part of the Ax-2 mission.”
“After all, it takes a lot of heart and courage to be a space explorer, and I’m ready for that,” says GiGi.
Although GiGi won’t be traveling to the lunar surface (at least, not yet), she will spend about a week in orbit with her Ax-2 crewmates while they do science and educational outreach from aboard the space station.
To celebrate GiGi’s mission, Build-A-Bear is now offering for sale the “Axiom Space Bear,” a 16-inch (40 centimeter) tall version of the 6.75-inch (17 centimeter) Ax-2 zero-g, wearing the same spacesuit cap layer style Created by Esther Marquis, costume designer on the Apple TV+ alternate space history series “For All Mankind”.
The Axiom Space Bear is available to order now from the Build-A-Bear Workshop and Axiom Space websites for $42 each.
“Axiom Space is excited to partner with the popular Build-A-Bear brand to encourage children of all ages to learn about space exploration and our efforts to expand access to microgravity to individuals, countries and institutions for meaningful scientific research,” said Nelson. .
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