Axiom Space and Build-A-Bear Workshop have partnered to fly a furry fifth crew member alongside the Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2) astronauts. The teddy bear, named GiGi, took flight yesterday as the Ax-2 mission's zero-gravity indicator wearing Axiom Space's next-generation spacesuit.
GiGi going to space continues the tradition of having a zero-gravity indicator inside the spacecraft to provide a visual indicator when the spacecraft has reached the weightlessness of microgravity. As the fifth crew member of Ax-2, GiGi's mission is to inspire children around the world to learn about space and consider careers in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM).
"Axiom Space is excited to partner with the iconic brand Build-A-Bear to encourage children of all ages to learn about space exploration and our efforts to expand access to microgravity for individuals, countries and institutions to conduct meaningful scientific research," said Sandra Nelson, Vice President of Marketing, Axiom Space. "GiGi was designed and built for the next generation of space explorers who will enable us to explore beyond, build a sustainable future in low-Earth orbit, and realize the extensive science research that will be achievable with their involvement and active participation in STEAM."
Sharon Price John, President and Chief Executive Officer at Build-A-Bear, emphasized the intent of this new partnership and special flight. "Guests dream big at Build-A-Bear, and the opportunity to partner with Axiom Space as part of the Ax-2 mission and send GiGi, the furry fifth crew member, to space is a special honor that we hope inspires youth across the globe to reach for the stars, pursue adventures, and follow their passion," she said. "With Build-A-Bear's 25-year history of creating special moments, our GiGi wearing the next-generation spacesuit, has the wonderful opportunity to be part of history as the Ax-2 crew's zero-gravity indicator."
About The Ax-2 Mission
The Ax-2 crew launched to space by way of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and a Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Ax-2 crew includes Commander Peggy Whitson and Pilot John Shoffner, both from the United States, and Mission Specialists Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi representing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
This partnership is driven by the shared goal for GiGi to encourage youth to learn more about space exploration and consider career paths in STEAM. Young enthusiasts can follow GiGi's journey on her blog designed to help kids see themselves through her unBEARlievable experience.
"As a young cub, I was always drawn to math and science projects. After the gift of a telescope one summer, I felt connected to the stars in a way I never had before, and I knew STEAM studies were for me," says GiGi in her blog. "Now as a full-time astronomer and aspiring astronaut, I am over the Moon to be part of the Ax-2 mission. After all, it takes a lot of heart and courage to be a space explorer, and I am ready for it."
ABOUT AXIOM SPACE
Axiom Space is building history, guided by the vision of a thriving home in space that benefits every human, everywhere. The leading provider of human spaceflight services and developer of human-rated space infrastructure, Axiom Space operates end-to-end missions to the International Space Station today while developing its successor, Axiom Station – a permanent commercial destination in low-Earth orbit that will sustain human growth off the planet and bring untold benefits back home.
Build-A-Bear is a multi-generational global brand focused on its mission to "add a little more heart to life" appealing to a wide array of consumer groups who enjoy the personal expression in making their own "furry friends" to celebrate and commemorate life moments. Nearly 500 interactive brick-and-mortar experience locations operated through a variety of formats provide guests of all ages a hands-on entertaining experience, which often fosters a lasting and emotional brand connection. The company also offers engaging e-commerce/digital purchasing experiences on buildabear.com and its age-gated, adult-focused "Bear Cave". In addition, extending its brand power beyond retail, Build-A-Bear Entertainment, a subsidiary of Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc., is dedicated to creating engaging content for kids and adults that fulfills the company's mission.