The year is 1969. The Space Race is heating up, and the USSR and the USA are vying for dominance in above the clouds. The world was watching, and both nations had incredible support from their allies and citizens. The USA had one distinct advantage over its rival, however – Snoopy.
At the time, Peanuts, the popular comic strip featuring Charlie Brown and his dog Snoopy, was at its height. It ran in over 2,600 newspapers, was read by 335 million people in 75 countries, and was translated into 21 languages.
To support the United States’ efforts, Snoopy joined the space race. The first cartoon featuring him beating his arch-nemesis, the “stupid cat next door,” to the moon appeared on March 14, 1969. Snoopy was anointed the “watchdog” of NASA safety, and even got a safety award named after him, the Silver Snoopy Award, for accomplishments in space travel safety.
On the Apollo 10 mission that launched on May 18, 1969, the crew chose to name their lunar module Snoopy after the Peanuts character and the accompanying command module was named Charlie Brown. The two characters were made unofficial mascots of the mission, which was essentially a dress rehearsal for the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Peanuts and Space fans alike are invited to delve into all of the Snoopy Apollo 10 comics and Snoopy’s exciting history with NASA during Snoopy in Space on Saturday, May 18 at WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology from 1 to 3 p.m.
“I was pretty young during the Apollo 10 launch and I was a huge Snoopy fan at the time,” said Michael Lindeau, exhibits and facilities director at WonderLab and the engineer behind the revamped Giant Flowing Bubble exhibit. “I remember watching the launch in total amazement. It was an early inspiration for the career I’m in now.”
During this WonderLab event, visitors can design a lunar rover using simple household materials and tools. Older guests can also use small, cube-shaped modular robots called Cubelets to program their rovers to take on specific tasks.
In addition, guests will have the opportunity to go on a scavenger hunt through the universe using Merge Cube – a cube based augmented reality module. Guests will utilize this augmented reality to explore the solar system and discover little-known facts about our neighboring worlds, like how the mountain Olympus Mons on Mars is three times taller than Everest.
Guests will also have the opportunity to explore the history of Apollo missions 7 through 17 through an interactive, hands-on discovery activity, photos and texts related to the history of the Apollo space missions. “A lot of people know about the Moon Landing and Apollo 11,” said Sarah Lynn Wells, secondary and adult education specialist at WonderLab and organizer of the event. “But we tend to forget the rest of the Apollo missions which were really cool and had huge advances for science.”
Snoopy in Space is an event for people of all ages. The event is free with museum admission. Also be sure to join us on Saturday, July 20, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission moon landing. WonderLab’s Night at the Museum: Moon Landing Anniversary Party, will be a family-oriented event at WonderLab from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information visit wonderlab.org.
WonderLab is an award-winning science museum located at 308 W. Fourth St. on the B-Line Trail in Bloomington, Indiana. The museum is open to the public from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. – 5: p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 – 5 p.m. on Sunday. General admission is $9, and children younger than one are free. For more information call (812) 337-1337, or go online to wonderlab.org or WonderLab’s Facebook page.