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'Shaun the Sheep' Completes Astronaut Training for Sci-Fi Film

Shaun the Sheep floats in microgravity. (Image credit: ESA/Aardman)

Once again, Shaun the Sheep has proven he's one of a kind. 

The children's film character finished up astronaut training last week with a special flight that simulates microgravity on Earth.

Shaun finished up on July 19, not only just before the 50th anniversary of the first human moon landing — but also in time for the launch of his second animated feature film, called "Farmageddon." 

"The plot features an alien called Lu-La who crash-lands near Shaun's home at Mossy Bottom Farm," European Space Agency (ESA) officials said in a statement. "Shaun and the gang then help the alien to get home, through the application of science, engineering, luck and more luck."

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With the help of ESA, Shaun flew on an Airbus A310 aircraft that does parabolas to simulate the microgravity or "weightlessness" astronauts experience in space.

"The flight was intended to prepare Shaun for his role as a space traveller in his new film," ESA said in the statement. "It offered him insight into the rigorous training that all astronauts have before their missions," the agency added, including Italy's Luca Parmitano (an ESA member) who successfully launched on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft for Expedition 60 on July 20.

"We are very happy to have helped Shaun in his big space adventure," said Jan Wörner, director-general of ESA, in the statement.

Shaun the Sheep gets ready to board the Airbus A310 "zero-g" aircraft for a parabolic flight to simulate the effects of microgravity.  (Image credit: ESA/Aardman)

This isn't Shaun's first space connection. 

Aardman Studios — which participated in the production of "Farmagaddon" with distributor StudioCanal — also worked with ESA during the mission of British astronaut Tim Peake in 2015. Also, the first Shaun the Sheep movie has a soundtrack by Ilan Eshkeri, who has worked on several space projects with ESA and other entities.

"Farmageddon" is expected to launch Sept. 26 in Germany, Oct. 16 in France and Oct. 18 in the United Kingdom.

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Elizabeth Howell
Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is pursuing a Ph.D. part-time in aerospace sciences (University of North Dakota) after completing an M.Sc. (space studies) at the same institution. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @HowellSpace.