Following in the footsteps of legendary British astronaut Tim Peake, the UK can be proud of its latest space hero destined for a mission to the International Space Station. However, this time our latest Skywalker has a big difference – four legs instead of two!
Aptly named hound Apollo, beat over 4,000 dog applicants to take the first-ever canine place in the modern era of ESA astronaut training. The selection process included taking tests to assess intelligence, obedience and fitness – 3-year-old Apollo passed all with flying colours. Short-haired Pointer Apollo will be the first dog to reach orbit since 1957 when the legendary Soviet mongrel Laika launched in Sputnik 2.
As part of Apollo’s initial training, he has already got to grips with operating simple controls which will be mission-critical for work onboard the ISS. At the European Astronaut Centre, a through-floor domestic passenger lift from Stiltz Homelifts has been specially installed in one of the astronaut classrooms to teach Apollo self-navigation and decision making. With the ability to ‘lift-off and ‘land’ on his own, the hound is now developing his skills further for experiments in orbit to find out how zero gravity affects animals both physically and cognitively. Training in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center in Texas will be next – in preparation for the first-ever space dog walk.
Yola Mealing, Head of Marketing and spokesperson says: “The Stiltz Directors and staff are all really excited that our home lift product is being used in such a groundbreaking and high-profile project”.
Tim Peake will be remembered for all his amazing achievements in space, including running the London Marathon on the ISS treadmill – however space-pup Apollo will be sure to give him a run for his money!