News

Japan sends Hello Kitty into space

Japan sends Hello Kitty into space

SHOT INTO SPACE: A 1.6-inch tall Hello Kitty figurine placed under a scrolling display in front of a window of the Hodoyoshi-3 satellite, is seen in what Sanrio Co. said is a still image from a video. Photo: Reuters

By Minami Funakoshi

TOKYO (Reuters) – Hello Kitty, Japan’s ambassador of cute, is on a government-funded mission to space.

The project to launch Sanrio Co Ltd’s white cat with a pink bow into orbit is part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to promote Japan’s high-tech industry and engineer economic growth.

A 1.6-inch tall Hello Kitty figure is aboard the Hodoyoshi-3 satellite, looking through a window at Earth, Sanrio announced this week.

The satellite, which is about the size of a large rubbish bin, was developed by Japanese researchers as part of a $40 million program funded by the education and science ministry.

The goal of the project is to get more private companies interested in working with satellites, said Toshiki Tanaka, researcher in charge of the project at the University of Tokyo’s Nano-Satellite Center.

Developers chose Sanrio as their first private partner after judging that it could get Hello Kitty’s many fans interested in space, Tanaka said.

“Through this project we can make those people interested and stimulate their scientific curiosity. We can move their hearts,” Tanaka told Reuters.

The Hello Kitty project, which launched in June, has been one of trial and error for the Tokyo-based satellite developers.

The researchers have been working on maneuvering the satellite so it would point in the right direction when taking photos of Hello Kitty with Earth as a backdrop for the past two months. They also used special paint to coat the Hello Kitty mascot to protect it from UV rays, cosmic rays and vacuum space.

Sanrio has asked fans to submit 180-character messages that Hello Kitty could deliver from space to friends and family. Sanrio received 100 submissions in the first day, said Kazuo Tohmatsu, the company’s spokesman.

Hello Kitty, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is Sanrio’s most popular character. The mouthless cat has become a symbol of Japan’s culture of “kawaii,” or cute, and is used to market everything from plush toys to aircraft.

(Reporting By Minami Funakoshi; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Recent Headlines

7 hours ago in Viral Videos

Who’s your daddy?

16-overlay-10

When you're a baby and your dad is a twin, life can be confusing.

9 hours ago in Entertainment

Johnny Depp wigs out as Donald Trump in spoof biopic

16-overlay-11

The Hollywood actor dons a Trump-style hairpiece to lampoon the presidential hopeful in the 50-minute comedy for Funny or Die alongside a star-studded cast including Alfred Molina, Henry Winkle

10 hours ago in Entertainment

Another ‘Harry Potter’ book in the works

harrypotter

Fans will have the chance to read another installment in J.K. Rowling's wizard series when her new play is published as a book.

10 hours ago in Viral Videos

WATCH: Oh mother …

23-overlay-3

Is it the worst "Family Feud" answer ever? Judge for yourself.

13 hours ago in Entertainment, National

Shkreli is sued over his $2 million Wu-Tang Clan album

Pharmaceutical chief Martin Shkreli listens on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, during the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on his former company's decision to raise the price of a lifesaving medicine. Shkreli refused to testify before U.S. lawmakers who excoriated him over severe hikes for a drug sold by a company that he acquired. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Shkreli has bragged that he had no plans to listen to the album, but bought it to "keep it from the people."