Has anyone sent a china teapot into orbit, to "solve" the long standing Russell's Teapot argument?

I realize this is a "joke" endevour, but with the advent of easily available cubesats, has anyone done this yet?

EDIT: I am also interested in technical aspects of the payload. Does putting an off shelf teapot in hollow acrylic cube, glued or tied down, pass the requirements for cubesat? Or does it need to be fully embedded in acrylic block? Vacuum pump treatment to get outgassing out?

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    $\begingroup$ I’m voting to close this question because it's about philosophy, not space exploration. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Jul 26 at 11:11
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    $\begingroup$ Cubesats that orbit the Sun between Earth and Mars are pretty rare. $\endgroup$ Jul 26 at 13:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Thomas You understand that cubesats are generally only being lofted into LEO, right? It will take many km/s delta V to get from LEO to the asteroid belt, and then more to circularize the orbit. Even for a tiny payload, you're going to need a fairly large transit stage, and that all has to be lifted into LEO first, which means you're way outside the range of a cheap cubesat rideshare. $\endgroup$ Jul 26 at 15:33
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to reopen. Whatever one's opinion on the idea of sending the teapot, whether or not it has been done is a purely factual space-exploration-related question that can be answered. $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    Jul 27 at 3:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Thomas If it's not in solar orbit, it isn't really Russell's Teapot, but again, the teapot thought experiment was about disprovability, and putting an actual teapot in the proper orbit would still be only a very expensive joke and have nothing to do with the actual point he was making. $\endgroup$ Jul 27 at 15:25

2 Answers 2


There seems to be some confusion as to what's actually being asked; I am interpreting the question simply as "has anyone sent a china teapot into any orbit in space?"

I'm unable to find any evidence of an actual teapot in orbit, though of course it's difficult to prove a negative.

Solar orbit payloads are relatively rare, so I'm fairly confident that form of Russell's teapot hasn't been launched.

It occurred to me that, while not optimal, it wouldn't be completely impossible to use a teapot for its intended purpose on a space station! The surface tension of water would tend to keep tea inside the pot while was brewing. Various headlines and Reddit posts allude to astronaut Tim Peake having taken a teapot to the ISS, but further investigation suggests he prepared tea in a plastic bag instead of a pot.

  • $\begingroup$ Trying to use a conventional teapot to make tea in free fall would not end well. No convection to distribute the heat. Likely a steam explosion from the hot end. $\endgroup$ Aug 3 at 1:26
  • $\begingroup$ I seem to recall the "hot water" dispensers on the ISS not being very hot? $\endgroup$ Aug 3 at 1:37
  • $\begingroup$ No idea about that, but I think they just fill bags. At least on the shuttle that's what they did. $\endgroup$ Aug 3 at 1:40
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, I guess you don't heat the water in the teapot. Got it! Thanks. $\endgroup$ Aug 3 at 1:43
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    $\begingroup$ Ah! Yes, teapot and teakettle are two different things. $\endgroup$ Aug 3 at 2:58

tl;dr Russell's Teapot is by definition invisible!

However, I think you are asking about something more like Has there ever been a deliberate "Find A Satellite" challenge? Actually, could there be? which is currently unanswered.

Anyway, back to Russell and his pot:

Various questions about the hypothetical teapot have been asked and answered in Astronomy SE:

For more on my proposed proxy teapot, see:

This is only one kind-of-famous candidate, but there are several bits of Apollo space missions that might be proposed, one with the additionally mystery of whether there's a bit of poo1 floating around inside it (which I propose is now a Edgar-Allen-Poesque teapot-within-a-teapot. And there are plenty of deep space missions that are in heliocentric orbits somewhat similar to Earth's or at least approaching it from time to time, but are essentially "lost" for the time being.

1In Scott Manley's words: The Apollo 10 floating turd

...and that might include one particularly famous piece of space trash the Apollo 10 floating turd we don't know who did it but you know if that was recovered it might now be possible to figure out who was really responsible for this.

Screenshot from Scott Manley's May 21, 2019 Apollo 10's Lunar Module Snoopy Is Lost In Space - Could We Bring it Home?

Screenshot from Scott Manley's May 21, 2019 "Apollo 10's Lunar Module Snoopy Is Lost In Space - Could We Bring it Home?" https://youtu.be/jXVYZm9epmU?t=674


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