The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is partnering with the University of Tokyo to launch Gunpla models into space for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Yes, during the 2020 Olympic Games, Gundam models are going to be watching over the athletes, transmitting supportive messages to the competitors as they orbit Earth.
“One small step for man, one giant leap for [the Tokyo 2020 Olympics]!” the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games tweeted. “We’ve partnered with the [University of Tokyo] and JAXA to launch the ‘G-SATELLITE Go to Space’ project. Carrying Gundam, this is the first time a satellite commissioned for the [Olympic Games] will orbit the earth!”
According to Anime News Network, the satellite is scheduled to launch between March and April 2020 from the International Space Station’s Japanese Experiment Module, and it will transmit messages back to Earth. The satellite will hold two models–an RX-78-2 Gundam and MS-06S Char’s Zaku II. Both will be painted and made with special materials designed to withstand space, and their eyes will change between the five colors used in the rings symbolizing the Olympic Games. Cameras in the satellite will showcase the models’ journey into orbit and continue to capture the two’s space adventures.
Gundam is one of the most recognizable parts of Japanese culture, as the franchise includes multiple TV series, movies, manga, novels, and video games, the earliest of which date back to April 1979. The franchise’s impact is so large, it’s influenced science fiction across the globe.
In collaboration with Sunrise–the animation studio responsible for the Gundam anime–Legendary Pictures is creating a live-action Gundam movie. Brian K. Vaughan, who penned several Lost episodes and numerous Marvel and DC comic books and graphic novels, is both writing the movie’s screenplay and serving as executive producer. A release date for the movie has not been announced yet.