A good sense of humour isn’t a skill you’d expect to find on the CV of an astronaut, but according to NASA, it’s essential. One study (conducted in Antarctica) even stressed the importance of having a ‘clown’ within the crew. This goes some way to explaining why so many hilarious things have happened on space missions. From David Bowie tributes to zero gravity football, we’ve searched the universe to put them in your orbit. They’re ready for lift-off in 3, 2, 1…
A real space oddity
This story is truly out of this world. When Chris Hadfield was ‘sitting in his tin can’ (The International Space Station), he was inspired to perform a cover of David Bowie’s Space Oddity. His incredible video, which might just be the most expensive music video ever made, has now racked up 48 million views, becoming a lasting tribute to the original Starman.
Proving that a sense of humour is absolutely essential in space, in 2014, three funny astronauts marked the opening ceremony of the Brazilian World Cup with a zero gravity kickabout. You can watch Steve Swanson, Alexander Gerst and Reid Wiseman in action below.
Back in 2010, Space X launched a test capsule carrying a very unusual payload – an entire wheel of cheese. Elon Musk told his Twitter followers that it was the silliest thing he could think of and it was inspired by a Monty Python sketch. As far as space jokes go, we think it’s a gouda one.
To infinity and beyond
How do you create the planet’s most epic eBay listing? By sending a Buzz Lightyear toy 60 miles up into space. In 2019, British comedian LadBaby took a Buzz Lightyear toy to new heights by attaching it to a special balloon and filming the results. The stunt raised £1,580 for the Together for Short Lives charity, which eBay topped up with an additional £10,000. However, this wasn’t Buzz Lightyear’s first voyage off the planet – he visited the International Space Station as part of NASA’s ‘toys in space’ project back in 2008.
May the laughs be with you
We can’t think of a more appropriate addition to space history than Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber from Return of the Jedi. In 2007, the prop joined space shuttle Discovery for a journey to the International Space Station and was waved off by Chewbacca and an army of Stormtroopers.
Where’s the beef?
With zero gravity to contend with and lots of valuable technology at risk, it makes sense for NASA to be more than a little concerned about what makes it onto their spacecraft. Which is why, in 1965, they were horrified to discover that American astronaut John Young had smuggled a corned beef sandwich on board with him. Young only managed to take a single bite before the bread began to break up – not the smartest of ideas, but definitely one of the funniest.
If you’ve enjoyed reading about these silly space missions, why not create one of your own? Check out funny astronaut Mae Jemisox, the newest arrival at our International Sock Station.