Astronauts Adopt Alligator as Mascot
Taking a mid-day stroll, an alligator crosses the Saturn Causeway June 2 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in front of the Astrovan with STS-127 crew members aboard.
Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The space shuttle Endeavour's STS-127 mission could use some luck from its mascot.

NASA has tried twice to launch the shuttle but both times was thwarted by a gas leak; Endeavour is now grounded until July 11 at the earliest.

Perhaps that help will come from their new mascot: an alligator.

The astronauts were riding in their silver Astrovan at Florida's Kennedy Space Center June 2 when an alligator strolled along the road in front of them.

The toothy creature took its time walking across the Saturn Causeway ? a main road that runs through NASA's Cape Canaveral base. After it ambled past the spaceflyers, the alligator headed for the woods near the road.

The seven astronauts of the space shuttle Endeavour's STS-127 mission waited for the 'gator to pass before proceeding down the road to Launch Pad 39A, where they were scheduled to rehearse liftoff procedures during a terminal countdown demonstration test.

They were so taken by the alligator's appearance that the crew agreed to adopt the creature as its mascot.

Alligators are common around the space center in drainage canals and other waters. Sometimes they venture out to the roads in search of new scenery or mates.

The center shares a boundary with the Merritt Island Wildlife Nature Refuge, which is a habitat for more than 310 species of birds, 25 mammals, 117 fishes and 65 amphibians and reptiles.