Popular Czech puppet character to fly into space


Hurvínek, one of the Czech Republic’s most popular puppet characters, is heading into space. He will be carried to the outer edge of the stratosphere on board of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Hurvínek is the second children’s character to fly into space after the Little Mole’s Space Shuttle Mission in 2011.

The character of Hurvínek was created nearly a century ago by artist Josef Skupa as part of a father and son puppet comedy duo. Hurvínek, along with his father Spejbl, have since become one of the most popular children’s characters, starring in countless performances on the theatre stage as well as on radio and television.

Now, Hurvínek is set for another adventure. In June, he will travel into the stratosphere on board the Planetum 1 satellite, which will be carried into space by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in June.

Hurvínek - glass figurine | Photo: Spejbl and Hurvínek Theatre

David Janošek, art director of Prague’s Spejbl and Hurvínek Theatre, outlines the details:

“We don't know the exact date, because nobody knows that yet. It depends on a lot of things. The flight plan for the satellite's orbital trip is being made long in advance. You're always waiting for ideal weather conditions, pressure conditions, so there are an awful lot of circumstances.”

The launch of the tenth satellite in the history of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic was announced already last year, but the participation of the famous Czech puppet was kept secret until this week.

Hurvínek will fly into space as a small, two-centimetre glass figurine, since the wooden puppet would be too large to fit in, explains Mr Janošek:

“We had to create a very special Hurvínek character for this occasion, and it had to undergo several stress tests to make sure it would survive the space flight. He will be wearing a special white spacesuit and we are terribly excited that we will see him travelling somewhere in space.”

The Czech satellite will be mainly used for educational purposes. A control centre will be set up in the Prague planetarium, where school pupils will able to communicate directly with the space station, obtain data about the flight and take images from orbit.

The space mission is not the first mark Hurvínek will leave in the cosmos. In 2002, two asteroids, discovered by Czech astronomer Lenka Šarounová, were named after the popular puppet characters.

Hurvínek is also not the first Czech children’s character to fly into space. In 2011, astronaut Andrew Feustel brought the world-famous Krteček or Little Mole on board the Endeavour spaceship. Seven years later, Little Mole flew into space once again, this time on board the Soyuz space shuttle.