Olaf the snowman from the Disney movie Frozen joined cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and his crewmates, NASA astronaut Terry Virts and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, when they lifted off for the International Space Station today (Sunday 23 November 2014).
Shkaplerov told reporters at a pre-flight press conference in Star City, Russia that his eight year old daughter had selected Olaf as a talisman for the flight.
More than just a mascot, Olaf will be suspended from a cord in the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft, and will serve as the flight’s zero-g indicator. When the crew enters Earth orbit, Olaf will float, signalling Shkaplerov, Virts, and Cristoforetti that they are in space.
Olaf is the second Disney character to visit the International Space Station. In 2008 space ranger Buzz Lightyear flew on NASA’s space shuttle Discovery for a trip to the ISS. Buzz returned to Earth the following year, and is now part of the Smithsonian’s collection at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.