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The famous Japanese cat mascot goes up into space to urge Japanese companies to start working on space technology

Many people around the world are familiar with the white cat with a bright pink hair bow called Hello Kitty, one of Japan’s most famous mascots. She has appeared on merchandise, TV shows, restaurants, theme parks and even in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and has become one of the most recognized symbols in the world. Now, this commercial cat has made yet another leap forward into the future, by going to space on a satellite.

Sanrio has teamed up with the Japanese education and science ministry to send a 1.6-inch figurine of the company’s most famous character on its 40th anniversary. The stunt is for more than just publicity, it’s part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to help spotlight Japan’s technological and engineering prowess.

According to Toshiki Tanaka, researcher in charge of the project at the University of Tokyo’s Nano-Satellite Center, it’s a way to try and get more private companies to work on and send up satellites. By using this incredibly famous feline, the hope was that they could get Hello Kitty fans more interested in space and therefore make satellites more popular as a result. The garbage can sized satellite, called the Hodoyoshi-3, that houses the figurine was launched in June and cost $40 million dollars to develop.

The researchers on the project are working on adjusting the position of the satellite so it would have Earth featured in the back window of the craft for around two months. The researchers also used special paint on the figurine to keep it from being damage by UV and cosmic rays, among other space hazards, which is why the signature pink bow in now white.

Sanrio is also asking fans to send 180-character messages directed at friends and family to be displayed on the satellite, with over 100 requests being submitted in the first day. While it may not be a sure fire way to create more interest in developing more advanced satellite technology, it certainly does make for another impressive feat involving this Sanrio star.

[h/t] Reuters

Image Courtesy of Sanrio

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