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Hello Kitty On Her First Space Mission

Hello Kitty On Her First Space Mission

Japan's fictional character Hello Kitty has been sent on her first space mission, as the country's global icon celebrates its 40th birthday in extraterrestrial fashion.

The move is part of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to promote Japan's high-tech industry and engineer economic growth, by combining the Hello Kitty figure with a mini satellite sent up to orbit the Earth and equipped with a digital message board. The government is hoping to attract private companies into the air space business with the stunt.

The initiative calls on fans to come up with short messages that will be flashed on the board sitting above the four-centimetre cat, according to Kitty's creator Sanrio.

The white feline with a red bow sits by a window looking back at Earth, with the board displaying messages of up to 180 characters in English and Japanese.

"It can be a message that you want to send from space to someone special on Earth, or it can be something more general," a spokesman for Tokyo-based Sanrio said when they unveiled the initiative.

The satellite that was launched last month from Russia is now up and running and developers chose Sanrio as their first private partner after judging that it could get Hello Kitty's many fans interested in space.

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