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 Local

St. Clair County Sheriff Passes on U.S. House Bid

rick watson

Sheriff Rick Watson has declined a run for the house in the 12th Congressional District.

in Local

Judge Approves Place for Mel Reynolds to Stay While on Bond

FILE - In this Nov. 28, 2012 file photo, former Illinois Congressman Mel Reynolds announces that he's running for the 2nd District seat vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr., in Chicago. Reynolds has been indicted on federal tax evasion charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago said in a statement Friday June 26, 2015. The indictment says the 63-year-old Chicago Democrat failed to file income tax returns for four consecutive years, between 2009 and 2012. Each count of failing to file carries a maximum one-year prison sentence. Reynolds resigned his Illinois congressional seat in 1995 after being convicted of statutory rape for having sex with an underage campaign worker. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

Former U.S. Congressman claims race is a factor in the case.

in Local

Work on Illinois State Fair Venues Ramps Up

state fair logo

Governor says fair will go on in spite of budget impasse, but some vendors may be paid late.

in Local

Lincoln’s Relationship with Jewish People Theme of New ALPLM Exhibit

7-31-15 Lincoln Exhibit

A new exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum focuses on what was termed, at the time, another minority group.

in Local

William Kelly is Back — Bashing Sen. Mark Kirk

mark_kirk

Going beyond criticizing Kirk’s comments and policies, William Kelly talked about Kirk’s physical condition since he suffered a stroke in 2012.