NEW HAVEN -- The first round-trip by a privately-owned spacecraft to the International Space Station was completed with the splashdown of the SpaceX capsule Friday morning. And, the week long, unmanned mission, was truly out of this world for a Connecticut family, whose business has skyrocketed as a result.
Retired Connecticut Judge Jonathan Silbert never imagined Harvard Law School would lead to this.
"These are called the Celestial Buddies," he said, showing off a series of plush, playful, planetary pals.
"They are a creation of my daughter, Jessie, who had been, until recently, a fashion designer in New York," Mr. Silbert said
But, nearly a decade ago, Jessie Silbert was watching a program about the solar system "and thought to herself I’ve never seen any plush toys that depict planets," he dad says.
So, she went to work doing what she does best: designing.
"And she came up originally with Sun, Moon and the one that’s gotten really famous lately, Little Earth," Mr. Silbert said.
And "Little Earth," for some unknown reason, was selected by SpaceX creator Elon Musk to blast off in the company's unmanned rocket to the International Station last Friday.
"But, what nobody anticipated was the astronauts on board the International Space Station would fall in love with it," Mr. Silbert said
Astronaut Anne McLain tweeted photos of "Little Earth" all week.
"They liked it so much that, rather than come back with the space capsule, that splashed down this morning, at 8:45, they decided to let it (Little Earth) stay up there with the Space Station," Mr. Silbert said.
"This took us totally by surprise," he noted. "We had no expectation at all and when I woke up the morning after the lunch and saw my inbox full of orders I was flabbergasted."
You can purchase any of the Celestial Buddies on their website www.celestialbuddies.com or at science museums and planetariums worldwide.
"But, if they’re looking for Earth, they are going to have to wait a while because we are back ordered," Mr. Silbert said.
There is a backlog of several hundred orders on Little Earth, which sells for $21.99.