NASA has had a rough year. Their budgets have been slashed. They retired their last space shuttle. Private space programs by entrepreneurs like Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and billionaire Richard Branson are coming very close to putting people in outer space on their private shuttles. Now NASA is hoping that one rubber chicken can reinvigorate America's interest in its space program.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory has found an interesting mascot that has raised a new awareness and enthusiasm for their work: A rubber chicken named Camilla Corona, according to Wired.

This is no ordinary rubber novelty. Camilla has made five trips into space, thanks to a hot air balloon that can reach the highest levels of the Earth's atmosphere. Camilla has also appeared around the world in space conferences and meetings and her travels have made her a celebrity among space enthusiasts.

She's become so popular that one NASA astronaut is trying to save her a seat on Russia's next space shuttle launch. Camilla is much closer to achieving her space flight dream than you might think. She's already attended several training sessions and only needs certification from the Russian program to get on board.