A new breed of fictional space travelers is blasting off into the cosmos. They're furry, fun and fantastically hilarious — meet the CatStronauts!
The new graphic novel series "CatStronauts" combines some of the world's favorite pets with real space science, a bit of NASA history and a ton of humor as it tells the stories of spacefaring felines who travel to the moon, Mars and beyond.
"Mission Moon" and "Race to Mars," the first two books in the series, were released on Tuesday (April 18). But the feline fun doesn't stop there; a third book, "Space Station Situation," will be released later this year. [Book Excerpts: 'CatStronauts' Push the Furry Frontier]
Drew Brockington, author and illustrator of the "CatStronauts" stories, told Space.com that the books are the product of his "love affair with the golden age of NASA" and an affinity for doodling cats in spacesuits and writing clever cat puns.
In "Mission Moon," the space kitties head to the moon to begin building a solar power plant, an idea inspired by a lunar solar power concept from Japanese company Shimizu, Brockington said.
The furry little astronauts blast off on a rocket dubbed CATSUP, which looks a lot like NASA's historic Saturn V rocket that launched the Apollo moon missions. Their lunar lander even resembles an Apollo lunar module, but with added cat ears on top, of course.
"CatStronauts: Race to Mars" reinvigorates the historic space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union with the introduction of the CosmoCats. They compete with the CatStronauts to be the first cats on Mars.
The books feature characters like mission commander Major Meowser, science officer Pom Pom and a pilot named Waffles. While these cat characters aren't based on real people (or real cats), they do play roles that actual astronauts would have on these missions, Brockington said.
Because Brockington has no spaceflight experience, he went to Space Camp (for adults) to get "a close, firsthand experience" in the world of space exploration. There, he learned plenty of astronaut jargon and studied the mechanics of mission control before coming up with his cat-filled space stories.
"CatStronauts" is marketed toward kids ages 6-8, but even older space fans with a sense of humor will love these graphic novels. And if you're a space fan who happens to like cats, you absolutely need "CatStronauts" on your bookshelf.
Email Hanneke Weitering at email@example.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.