Are you ready for out-of-this-world encounters with some spiders in space? From real life experiences of the first spidernauts sent into space by NASA to the sci-fi imaginings from book pages and the silver screen, spiders in space are not as uncommon as you might think.
As you might have guessed from the topic of this post, I’ve always loved the stars. I even worked on an arachnid astrology series to tie these two unassuming passions together.
Somehow, it feels appropriate for spiders to be found betwixt these enchanting balls of gas. Wouldn’t you agree? Even if you don’t, I’ve found eight stories of both fact and fiction regarding spiders on interstellar flights.
Eight Tales, Books and Films about Spiders in Space
Arabella & Anita – NASA’s first Spidernauts
Arabella and Anita were two orb weaver spiders sent into space in 1973. This was in thanks to the proposal of 17-year-old Judith Miles. This was one of twenty-five student experiments onboard the Skylab 3 mission. Judith’s idea was to test the spiders’ abilities to form webs in a zero-gravity environment. A feat that both spiders accomplished.
Esmerelda & Gladys
Anita and Arabella did not remain the only spiders in space as young minds encouraged further spider-based experiments. Two more golden orb weavers were sent to the space station in 2011 in attempts to see how they would adapt to hunting in space.
Nefertiti the Spidernaut
This book is based on yet another NASA student experiment. Nefertiti was a jumping spider sent into space for 100 days in 2012. This children’s book is a great resource to share with the family, but also very informative for adults. The author goes into detail on how they selected Nefertiti for the experiment. In addition, they explain how she learned to hunt while on the Internation Space Station and back on Earth.
“Children of Time” by Adrian Tchaikovsky
This post-apocalyptic styled science fiction novel will not be appreciated. This is due to the focus on an established intelligently evolved spider society. This book was unexpectedly enjoyable. I cannot debate that the author really did their homework on spiders. Anyone fan of spiders feels there is a thorough understanding of the spider life cycle and structure. Although there are other insects and spiders discussed in this book, the focus is on jumping spiders. I’m in love. I want this to be made into a movie so bad!
“IT” by Stephen King
What mention of spiders in space would be complete without everyone’s favorite horror villainess from space? If you’ve ever read this monster of a book, it will certainly horrify you. However, I would say that the ancient spider-esque creature wearing the guise of Pennywise is not what disgusts you most in this novel. Don’t have time for a thousand-page novel? “IT” has been made into a three-hour television miniseries and a film series. Although neither adaptation fully captures the complexity of the novel, they are both worth adding to your horror watch list.
Starship Troopers (1997)
The aliens in this film are called “Arachnids”. However, I fear that is where the connections end. The first of the alien insects encountered could be more spider-like. Unfortunately, as more aliens are shown, they become less and less spider-like.
Lost in Space (1998)
This film holds a special place in my heart and what I attribute to my embracing of passions for the Science Fiction genre as a girly-girl. Plus, the space spiders are so adorable! Scary, but adorable. Plus, the final boss becomes a hybrid version of the space spiders and I remember ten-year-old Chelsea being all in on this.
What a surprisingly fun ride. This campy flick dives into the genetic experimentation of spiders injected with alien DNA. Placed onto a space shuttle akin to NASA experiments, their monstrous transformations kick into gear thanks to a solar flare. Upon which, the shuttle crashes at the feet of a news crew and a vibe akin to parody Ridley Scott’s Alien ensues.
Big Ass Spider! (2013)
I’ve talked about this film before, but it’s worth revisiting. Most especially since I forgot it was about an alien spider. This film doesn’t take place in space, but the alien visitor crashes on Earth and escapes from a military lab. Whereafter, it begins to grow to an enormous size and wreak havoc on the city.
Discovering the capabilities of these amazing weavers in space really threw me for a loop. Do you have any other regaling tales of spiders in space? I would love to look into them. Just drop a comment below with your recommendations!
2 responses to “Be Kind to Spiders Week 2023: Spiders in Space”
The first book in the Larklight series by Philip Reeves, titled Larklight, also has spiders in space! Also the illustrations are gorgeous!
I’m going to look into that! It sounds amazing!