Japan to release Gundam and Char’s Zaku into space to orbit Earth, ahead of Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Launch will celebrate the anime’s anniversary and look forward to the 2020 Olympics!

Mobile Suit Gundam, the anime that defined the mecha genre, is celebrating its 40 year anniversary, and that’s cause to celebrate. But as if the release of limited-edition Gundam coffee cans, the opening of a brand new Gundam Cafe, and plans for an actual moving Gundam statue weren’t enough, now there are also plans to actually send some mobile suits into space.

That’s right, you read that correctly. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has teamed up with the Tokyo University Graduate School of Engineering’s Aerospace Engineering department to use mobile suits to cheer on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics from space. To do so, they’ll be sending models of the original Gundam and Char’s Zaku from the Mobile Suit Gundam series out into Earth’s orbit.

▼ The suits will even be traveling around the Earth at a rate of about eight kilometers (five miles) per second, which means they’ll complete one orbit in about 90 minutes!

Sadly, they won’t be full-size Gundam statues, like the one in Odaiba. The logistics of launching a 20-meter tall (60-plus foot), extremely heavy statue into space would probably be too difficult with the technology we have right now. Instead, they’ll be sending out two Gunpla models, like the build-it-yourself kind that fans can buy and make at home, but they won’t be ordinary plastic Gunpla models, of course; thanks to the cooperation of three companies in Fukui Prefecture, as well as JAXA and Tokyo University, they’ll be made with special materials and painted with a special kind of paint in order to withstand the harsh environment of space.

They’ll be launched from the International Space Station sometime in March or April next year, together with the new G-Satellite, a micro satellite which measures just 30 centimeters across (about 11 inches), and which is also an electronic billboard. The models will be housed in the “cockpit” of the G-Satellite until it enters Earth’s orbit, and then it will open, and they’ll look as if they’re floating in outer space.

▼ An image of the G-Satellite

The mobile suits

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