After the Apollo 1 fire, NASA needed to rebuild its devastated Apollo program. They approached Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts, for permission to use Snoopy as their mascot for safety. He agreed, and Snoopy set off on safety-conscious mission to the Moon.
Snoopy and Charlie Brown supervise Mission Operations Control Room on the first day of the Apollo 10 mission from above Capcom Charlie Duke's station. Image credit: NASA
The choice of Snoopy makes sense — aside from his floppy-eared adorableness, Snoopy had a long history of dreaming of flight. Sure, he usually envisioned a biplane dogfighting the Red Baron, but add a fishbowl-helmet and he was ready for space. With his creator's blessing, NASA would have an approachable, charismatic advocate for safety, like Smokey Bear but cuter.
It was a risk — another catastrophe, and the beloved characters would always be associated with fire and death. Schulz took that risk, granting NASA permission. Soon, Peanuts strips started featuring the Astrobeagle's adventures, some even directly referring to current missions.
Silver Snoopy travels to space, then comes home to live with a civilian who made it possible. Image credit: Nitrorat
One of the first sketches of Snoopy joyfully exploring space with his fishbowl-helmet was transformed into a silver metal pin. Starting in 1968, a Silver Snoopy hitched a ride with every astronaut. Once back on Earth, the Snoopy pins were and are given as a highest honour to the people who work to keep astronauts safe.
Apollo 10 selected Snoopy as their official mascot, petting his nose for luck before launch. The flight modules took on names of Peanuts characters, with Charlie Brown as the Command Service Module, and Snoopy as the Lunar Module.
Petting Snoopy for luck. Image credit: NASA
John Young and Charlie Browns, cartoon and Command Service Module. Image credit: NASA
View of CSM Charlie Brown from LM Snoopy after separation. Photography credit: NASA
Snoopy wasn't the only toy that incorporated NASA missions. For more on the history of human space flight, reflect on the first man in space, or learn about the Deep Space communications network. For a less-catastrophic rocket explosion, consider the twist in fate for the current Rosetta spacecraft. For a bit of surrealism, NASA once provided shelter for a stray mascot stranded in the rain.