Graveyard Shift

What Happened When NASA Sent Spiders To Space

As a species, we've had the capability of space travel for quite some time. As such, we’ve sent more than just people up there - we've sent all sorts of weird stuff, especially animals. There have been a ton of animals sent into space: monkeys, dogs, rats, newts, fish, and more. NASA also sent Nephila clavipes - golden orb weaver spiders - into space. And everyone involved, from astronauts to students, called them different things: arachnidnauts, spidernauts, and even astro-nids.

What’s the point, you might ask? Scientists wanted to see what happens to spiders and their ability to spin webs while in microgravity. We humans are infinitely curious about everything, and researchers love to poke and prod to gauge reactions and gain a better understanding of ourselves and our vast universe. In both November 2008 and May 2011, the spiders launched into space aboard the Endeavor, and scientists back on Earth learned quite a few interesting things from their eight-legged astronauts.