According to NASA astronaut Gregory Scott, who recently returned to Earth after a four week stint aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the crew found something quite unbelievable while doing a routine space walk.
“We were out there doing routine maintenance and I see this thing off in the distance slowly floating toward us. I thought it might be a small asteroid or something, which could still be a safety concern when coming so close to the space station. I signaled my crew. They locked on to it visually and about five minutes later they abruptly told me to get back on board without any explanation”, said Scott regarding the discovery.
Shortly after arriving back aboard the ISS, the crew filled him in, and at first the astronaut thought it was a prank. Gregory Scott recalls, “I don’t know, I just couldn’t believe it, you know? When the crew tells you there is a tortoise shell in space you have to think they are putting you on!”.
That wasn’t the case though, and after viewing the spectacle for himself he became a believer. Soon enough the crew had devised a plan to retrieve the tortoise shell for examination. The plan was a success, but when they tortoise shell arrived on board another absolute shock was in store.
“We set the thing down in one of our research labs and placed it under some heat lamps to warm it up from being in space. After an hour our doctor aboard the ship begins screaming on the comms, we were all freaked out, because there was genuine panic in her voice” said Scott.
Dr. Maria Santos, a Brazilian astronaut aboard the ISS recalls the incident: “It was spectacular. I was examining the exterior shell when out pops this turtle leg, then another leg, then a tortoise head. I was confused and a bit frightened. The thing just looks over at me with a look on its face like as if it was happy to see a human, almost smiling, if you can imagine that?”.
The crew was equally shocked, and after checking the vital signs of the tortoise, it seemed to be perfectly fine. Apparently as a cold-blooded reptile, the turtle was able to hibernate in the shell, creating a vacuum of recyclable oxygen deep within for breathing. Dr. Santos estimates that the tortoise was maintaining this space hibernation for approximately six months, possibly longer.
When asked how the tortoise could have ended up in space, Commander Adrik Vasiliev said the following, “I have no idea. It is possible that a previous crew aboard the ISS had some test animals aboard and somehow managed to accidentally let one escape? However, maybe tortoises actually came from space? You just never know.”