The Time McDonald's Nearly Landed On An Asteroid

The golden arches are a familiar and instantly recognizable sight around the world. With more than 39,000 restaurants in 119 countries as of 2020 (via Statista), there are very few places in the world that don't have a McDonald's. Although Subway has more fast food restaurants overall, McDonald's is in more countries (via World Atlas). And once upon a time, McDonald's almost went out of this world and conquered the final frontier of space.

In 1899, two German scientists discovered an asteroid they later named 449 Hamburga, after the German city of Hamburg, according to the Dictionary of Minor Planets. Nearly 100 years later, in the early 1990s, 449 Hamburga was the subject of a proposed asteroid landing mission by scientists (and likely the marketing and PR department) of NASA affiliate Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who also sought to have McDonald's sponsor the mission (via Mental Floss), undoubtedly noticing the similarity of the asteroid's name to McDonald's most famous food item. Unfortunately, the mission was canceled in 1995 (via BBC), and McDonald's never got the chance to go into space.

What fans of space and McDonald's can do instead

In the meantime, space aficionados can head to Houston, Texas, or Roswell, New Mexico for space-inspired McDonald's decor. Fittingly for Space City, where NASA is located, there's a McDonald's with a giant astronaut holding McDonald's fries on the roof and popular McDonald's characters like Ronald McDonald and the Hamburgler wearing spacesuits decorating the interior walls (via Business Insider). And in a nod to the "extraterrestrial incident" that put Roswell on the map, the UFO-themed McDonald's there is not only shaped like a UFO but includes a space-themed play area space-wearing mascots (via Atlas Obscura).

Really motivated fans can do what a YouTuber called "Killem" did, and launch a Big Mac into space. He even took a bite of the burger after it landed back on Earth (via Today). According to Killem, the Big Mac was rather dry, undoubtedly having suffered some of the effects from its journey to the heights of space and back. And with space tourism starting to become a reality (via Washington Post), at least for those who consider six- to eight-figure ticket prices pocket change, perhaps a McDonald's hamburger might be served on future space flights. If they haven't already, McDonald's should start discussions with Blue Origin, SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic about catering their flights.