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Peanuts gang in spacesuits
NASA and Peanuts Worldwide have signed a multi-year Space Act Agreement, building on a historic partnership that began during the Apollo missions of the 1960s, (CNW Group / Peanuts Worldwide)

Eighteen years after their creator died, Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang are rising again to boost America’s space program.

It’s not exactly a new move for the comic strip characters inked by Charles M. Schulz until his death in 2000. Back in the 1960s, Schulz gave his OK for NASA to use Snoopy on the agency’s spaceflight safety materials for the Apollo program.

Schulz’s widow, Jeannie Schulz, said today in a news release that her husband “fully embraced” the collaboration with NASA.

“He was inspired to create a series of original comic strips detailing Snoopy’s fantastical journeys through space. Those strips remain among the most popular ones in circulation today,” she said.

In 1969, the Apollo 10 round-the-moon mission paid tribute to Peanuts by naming the command module “Charlie Brown” and the lunar module “Snoopy.” The cartoonist’s youngest son, Craig Schulz, said his father once told him that the tribute ranked as “the proudest moment in his career.”

The safety checklist for Apollo 12 featured a somewhat less official version of the Snoopy character, drawn by NASA engineer Ernie Reyes. (That checklist is also famous for its risque twists.)

NASA continues to give an award called the Silver Snoopy to recognize agency employees and contractors who have made outstanding contributions to safety or mission success in human spaceflight programs.

Last September, a Silver Snoopy went to Erica Raine, an engineer at Aerojet Rocketdyne’s facility in Redmond, Wash. She led a project to produce and test the auxiliary rocket engines for the service module on NASA’s Orion deep-space capsule.

Silver Snoopy
NASA’s Silver Snoopy Award was created in 1968 with the blessing of Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz. (NASA Photo)

The latest Peanuts partnership takes the form of a Space Act Agreement between NASA and Peanuts Worldwide, which is the keeper of Schulz’s comic-strip legacy.

With NASA’s involvement, Peanuts will work on all-new content starring Astronaut Snoopy, a STEM-based curriculum for students that lays out America’s deep-space exploration objectives, and materials that celebrate next year’s 50th anniversary of the Apollo 10 flight and the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Mark Geyer, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, signed the multiyear Space Act Agreement on behalf of the space agency.

“NASA’s venturing to the moon and beyond with new missions that will push humanity’s reach farther into deep space,” Geyer said in NASA’s news release. “Engaging the public and sharing what we’re doing through partnerships with organizations that have a unique way of reaching people helps generate interest and curiosity about space in the next generation.”

More information about the Peanuts space effort will come out next week at San Diego’s Comic-Con International.

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