'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
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace