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

in Lifestyle

McDonald’s all-day breakfast is coming next month

17-overlay1

Breakfastarians rejoice as the Golden Arches announces you'll soon be able to buy an egg McMuffin at dinner time.

in National, Sports

Los Angeles wants to host 2024 Summer Olympics

20-overlay1

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to pursue a bid to bring the Summer Games to town in 2024 and become the only city besides London ever to host the Olympics three times.

in Viral Videos

WATCH: Truck vs. Tree

17-overlay

Witness the power!

in National

Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony among frontrunners for new $10 bill

God Money

Officials plan to make a decision by this fall with the total redesign completed by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.

in Sports

Top seeds in a hurry on day of U.S. Open upsets

serena

World number ones Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic launched their U.S. Open title bids in ruthless style.