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Mementos from canceled NASA moon plan flying on space shuttle

Lapel pins for the canceled Constellation program are among the mementos flying with the STS-130 crew. (Ben Cooper/cS)
February 4, 2010

— Twenty-five lapel pins, each bearing the logo of NASA's now-canceled Constellation program to return astronauts to the Moon, are packed and poised to launch next week on space shuttle Endeavour for a round trip mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

The one-inch, red, white and blue triangular pins appear on the list of several hundred mementos launching inside the STS-130 Official Flight Kit (OFK), a duffle bag-size stash of souvenirs flown on every shuttle mission at the request of the space agency, its partners and the astronaut crew. The contents are distributed post-flight as a small token of thanks to those who supported NASA and the mission.

The kit's contents were approved on Feb. 1, the same day that President Barack Obama released his budget request for NASA, calling for Constellation to be canceled in favor of extending the ISS and launching astronauts on a new fleet of commercially-provided spacecraft. The new plan, which first needs Congressional approval, would also fund technology research and development efforts to ultimately send astronauts to multiple destinations beyond low Earth orbit.

Endeavour, which is scheduled to liftoff at 4:39 a.m. EST (0939 GMT) Sunday, is not the first to fly mementos from the Constellation program. Similar logo pins, patches and even Constellation ornaments have flown aboard the past nine shuttle missions since 2008.

Bringing the Moon to the space station

The Tranquility Node 3 module with attached Cupola. (NASA)

The Constellation lapel pins aren't STS-130's only onboard reminder of NASA's now-in-flux lunar plans: Endeavour's primary payload, the European-built, U.S.-funded Node 3 space station connecting module was named "Tranquility" after the site on the moon where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed Apollo 11's lunar module in 1969.

"I think the name for our module is very appropriate. Of course it means a lot more than the word itself," STS-130 pilot Terry Virts told during a pre-flight interview. "There is also the history between the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon and the module."

Virts, who served in the same fighter squadron that Aldrin flew with 40 years earlier, invited the moonwalker to watch Tranquility's launch.

"I had not actually made that connection myself, between Buzz and the name of our module, but I'll have to bring that up to him the next time I talk to him," he said.

Virts has another connection with Aldrin onboard, a small set of moon rocks collected from Tranquility Base. Before their launch to orbit, the lunar pebbles were carried to the top of Mt. Everest by former astronaut Scott Parazynski.

Together with a piece of Everest's summit, also retrieved by Parazynski, the plaque-mounted moon rocks will be displayed inside Tranquility's new seven-windowed Cupola to inspire the astronauts working there.

This plaque, with its Moon and Mount Everest rock samples attached, will be flown to the space station. (collectSPACE)

"Imagine being in the Cupola and looking out this huge series of windows and looking at the Moon and having a piece of the Moon right next to you. What's that going to be like? I have no idea. I'll come back and tell you," said STS-130 mission specialist Stephen Robinson.

Robinson had a role in including aboard the flight another, albeit subtle, nod to NASA's lunar exploration history in the form of his and his crewmates' mission patch.

The six-sided emblem, which was shaped to resemble the Cupola viewing port attached to Tranquility's side, depicts the Earth as it was first seen in a photograph taken from the Moon by Lunar Orbiter I.

Robinson came up with the idea for the patch as he was working in mission control the day after being assigned to Endeavour's crew.

"I'd seen that first photograph of the Earth from the Moon, taken in 1966 and I'm one of those guys who remembers 1966 and being excited about things made by humans going to the Moon and maybe people would someday go there," he recalled. "So that was an exciting photograph to me."

Robinson used software from his seat in mission control to simulate the view looking out from the Cupola, took a screenshot, printed and then cut it out.

STS-130 mission patch set against the Lunar Orbiter I photo of Earth from the Moon that inspired it. (NASA/LOIRP)

"All on console I am doing this... I have this idea burning in my head! So I cut out the Cupola from the screenshot printout and cut the little windows out -- and I'm talking to the [station] crew between doing all of this stuff -- and laid it on top of a printout of that picture of the Earth."

"I showed it to the flight director and said, 'That will be our patch,'" recounted Robinson.

And so it was; in addition to the patches that the crew will wear, the mission's OFK is packed with nearly 700 of the four-inch embroidered badges.

Closer to home

Of course, most of the mementos stowed in the OFK are not moon-related. Each member of the crew was able to offer organizations who they support, or who've supported them, a chance to fly an item.

"The OFK, a lot of it has to do with my association with the Marine Corps," said STS-130 commander and USMC Colonel George Zamka. "I am going to be flying up some patches and some other unit memorabilia, not only for the flying units but also the ground units in the Marine Corps."

He is also flying some flags.

"America will be represented, of course, but also for my association with Colombia, I'll also have some Colombian flags along as well as some flags from Poland, which is my father's side [of the family]."

Spacewalker Nick Patrick has a couple of items "that are of great significance" to him. In addition to flying a rugby shirt for his school in London, England and a Boy Scouts' neck scarf in recognition of his son who's a Cub Scout, he also has a replica flag from the ship that gave Endeavour its name.

"I'm flying a reproduction of the red ensign that flew on the HM Bark Endeavour, which was Captain Cook's ship of discovery that he took to the Pacific. The ship he sailed when he discovered Hawaii," said Patrick.

STS-130 is space shuttle Endeavour's penultimate flight.

Bob Behnken, who with Patrick will conduct the STS-130 mission's three spacewalks, used some of his OFK slots to recognize an organization he thought was important.

"I contacted the National Park Service in Washington, DC, the headquarters and they put me in contact with several National Parks that I visited over the years and really had a good experience with," said Behnken.

Flying aboard Endeavour are patches for Yellowstone, Big Bend, Arches and Zion National Parks.

"I am going to try to take photos of those parks while I am in low Earth orbit," shared Benhken.

For mission specialist Kay Hire, the OFK provided her the chance to tell a story from her past, even though it wasn't planned out that way.

A captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve, Hire was friends and graduated the Naval Academy with Wendy Lawrence, who also went on to become an astronaut. Lawrence's father, Vice Admiral William P. Lawrence is being posthumously honored with a guided missile destroyer in his name, so Hire is flying a patch from the USS William P. Lawrence.

Hire also has a patch from the USS George H.W. Bush in recognition of another friend from the Naval Academy who is now the commanding officer of that aircraft carrier.

"Once I had gotten these items and I got them into the Official Flight Kit, all of sudden it occurred to me that both of these men were on the stage and shook my hand as I graduated from the Naval Academy. At the time in 1981, George H.W. Bush was the Vice President of the United States and he was our commencement speaker and Vice Admiral William P. Lawrence was the Superintendent of the Naval Academy," said Hire.

"It's just kind of a coincidence but I think it is pretty neat."

The STS-130 Official Flight Kit Manifest

The following is the STS-130 Official Flight Kit manifest, as provided by NASA. Inventory numbers that are missing indicate items that were removed prior to launch.

No.   Description   Sponsor/Purpose
  1. 625 STS-130 crew patches
  2. 75 Expedition 23 patches
  Agency Presentation
2.   800 Small United States Flags   Agency Presentation
3.   5 Sets U.S. States & Territories Flags   Agency Presentation
4.   5 Sets United Nations Members Flags   Agency Presentation
  1. 20 Small Texas Flags
  2. 5 Small NASA Flags
  3. 5 NASA Patches
  4. 1 Large (3") JSC Medallion
  5. 6 Small (2") JSC Medallions
  6. 3 Bronze NASA Seal Medallion
  7. 1 Silver Shuttle Pendant
  Agency Presentation
6.   5 Small Flags of the Following States:
  1. Colorado
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Maryland
  4. California
  5. Alabama
  6. Florida
  7. Mississippi
  8. Louisiana
  9. Georgia
  10. Utah
  11. Alaska
  12. Missouri
  13. Texas
  Agency Presentation
7.   10 Small Flags of the Following Countries:
  1. Italy
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Russia
  Agency Presentation
8.   5 Small Flags of the Following Countries/Province:
  1. Colombia
  2. Poland
  3. France
  4. Israel
  5. Finland
  6. Germany
  7. British Columbia
  8. England
  9. Ireland
  10. Scotland
  11. Peru
  Agency Presentation
9.   Small Military Flags:
  1. 20 U.S. Air Force
  2. 10 U.S. Army
  3. 10 U.S. Coast Guard
  4. 10 U.S. Marine Corps
  5. 10 U.S. Navy
  Agency Presentation
  1. 10 Small United States Flags
  2. 10 Small Alabama State Flags
  Marshall Space Flight Center Presentation
  1. 10 Small Louisiana State Flags
  2. 10 Small Mississippi State Flags
  3. 5 Small NASA Flags
  4. 5 Small United States Flags
  Stennis Space Center Presentation
  1. 5 Small United States Flags
  2. 5 Small Florida State Flags
  Kennedy Space Center Presentation
13.   200 Silver Snoopy Pins   Space Flight Awareness Presentation
14.   25 EVA Patches   Agency Presentation
  1. 10 STS-130 Crew Patches
  2. 10 Small U.S. flags
  3. 10 DoD Space Test Program Patches
  4. 10 Space Development & Test Wing Coins
  5. 6 0-6 (Eagles) Grade Insignia
  6. 6 0-7 (Stars) Grade Insignia
  7. 1 U.S. Navy Memorial Dedication Coin
  8. 1 25th Space Range Squadron Unit Coin
  DoD Presentation
16.   25 Constellation Program Pins   Constellation Office Presentation
17.   25 COD Patches   Center Operations Directorate Presentation
18.   25 Mission Operations Patches   Mission Operation Directorate Presentation
19.   12 Space Shuttle Program Patches   Agency Presentation
20.   100 Small Metal Shuttle Tokens   Agency Presentation
21.   School Photograph   Agency Presentation
22.   Small (7.25"x9.5"x1.5") Acrylic Plaque   Agency Presentation
23.   Florida Park Service Patch   Agency Presentation
Items 24 through 77 are manifested at the request of the STS-130 crewmembers.
24.   20"x14" Red, White and Blue Coast Guard Ensign   U.S. Coast Guard, Beaumont, TX
25.   Blue, Red and Yellow Patch   26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Camp Lejeune, NC
26.   Green and White Patch   Marine Training Squadron, San Diego, CA
27.   Brown, Green and Black Patch   Green Knights, San Diego, CA
28.   30"x22" Red Flag   Third Marine Aircraft Wing, San Diego, CA
29.   5"x9" Sheet Music   Polish American Freedom Foundation, Warsaw, Poland
30.   White Jersey   Air Force Baseball Team, Colorado Springs, CO
31.   8"x12" Poster   Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO
32.   Blue Patch   94th Flying Training Squadron, Colorado Springs, CO
33.   Red, White and Blue Patch   22nd Flying Training Squadron, Fairchild AFB, WA
34.   16"x20" Embroidered Cloth   Bay Area Christian School, League City, TX
35.   White Jersey   Florida Marlins, Miami, FL
36.   White Patch   Southwest Little League, Waco, TX
37.   Orange Pennant   Oakland Hills High School, Oakland, CA
38.   Black, Blue and Yellow Patch   416th Flight Test Squadron, Edwards AFB, CA
39.   White Jersey   Aberdeen IronBirds, Aberdeen, MD
40.   White T-Shirt   American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA
41.   White, Blue and Red Patch   USS Lawrence, Norfolk, VA
42.   Blue and Gold Burgee   Robert Crown Sailing Center, Annapolis, MD
43.   Gold Medallion   Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC
44.   Gold and Navy Medallion   Office of Naval Research, Arlington, VA
45.   Multi-Color Patch   USS George H.W. Bush CVN 77, Norfolk, VA
46.   11"x11" Navy Cloth with Crest   U.S. Naval Academy Class of '81, Annapolis, MD
47.   Yellow, Navy and Blue Patch   USN Centennial of Naval Aviation, San Diego, CA
48.   Red and Gold Patch   National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL
49.   Bronze Medallion   Office of the Chief of Navy Reserve, Washington, DC
50.   Pewter Medallion   Thailand-Laos-Cambodia Brotherhood, Fairfax, VA
51.   12.5"x2" Slide Rule   Towell, Inc., Concord, CA
52.   Silver Crest Pin   Canadian Merchant Navy, Vancouver, BC
53.   Blue Shirt   Harrow International School, London, England
54.   Gold Scarf   Cub Scout Pack 704, Houston, TX
55.   3'x5' Red, White and Blue Ensign   The County of North Yorkshire, England
56.   3'x5' United States Flag with 16 Stars   Stonington Historical Society, Stonington, CT
57.   Blue Cloth   Harrow International School, Bangkok, Thailand
58.   Small Stuffed Ram Mascot   Awty Interational School, Houston, TX
59.   23"x9" Blue Pennant   Colegio Roosevelt School, Lima, Peru
60.   8"x12" Silk Batik Fabric   Harrow International School, Beijing, China
61.   Stainless Steel Bolt   Imperial War Museum Duxford, Cambridge, UK
62.   Red and Blue Patch   Boeing Company, Seattle, WA
63.   12"x29" Green and Red Banner   Washington Univ. School of Engineering, St. Louis, MO
64.   6"x2" Slide Rule   University of Memphis, Memphis, TN
65.   8.5"x11" Photo   Washington Univ. School of Physics, St. Louis, MO
66.   7"x26" Beige Banner   Yellowstone National Park, WY
67.   Multi-Color Patch   Big Bend National Park, TX
68.   Multi-Color Patch   Arches National Park, Moab, UT
69.   Multi-Color Patch   Neutral Buoyancy Lab, Houston, TX
70.   3.5" Blue, Silver and Gold Pocket Knife   Laborers Training Unit, St. Louis, MO
71.   3'x5' United States Flag   Air Force Space Command, Peterson AFB, CO
72.   Bronze Medallion   Zion National Park, Springdale, UT
73.   Gold Astronaut Pin   Agency Presentation
74.   Gold Astronaut Pin   Agency Presentation
75.   Gold Astronaut Pin   Agency Presentation
76.   Gold Astronaut Pin   Agency Presentation
77.   Silver Military Wings   Agency Presentation
Items 78 through 94 are manifested at the request of the Space Shuttle Program Office and Payload Customers.
78.   300 Sheets of Bookmarks   Space Shuttle Program (SSP) Presentation
79.   146 20A Mission Patches   International Space Station (ISS) Presentation
80.   100 Nodes Project Patches   Marshall Space Flight Center Presentation
81.   20 APEX-TAGES Patches   ISS Presentation
82.   6 APEX-TAGES Pins   ISS Presentation
83.   1 Envelopes Seeds   ISS Presentation
84.   111 4"x6" National Lab Team & Misc. Flags   ISS Presentation
85.   101 20A Mission Pins   ISS Presentation
86.   2 CSA APEX-Cambium Patches   ISS Presentation
87.   10 CSA APEX-Cambium Patches - Round   ISS Presentation
88.   50 CSA APEX-Cambium Decals   ISS Presentation
89.   10 CSA APEX-Cambium Pins   ISS Presentation
90.   10 CSA APEX-Cambium Printed Pictures   ISS Presentation
91.   1 JAXA Payload Team Wooden Memorial Printing Block   ISS Presentation
92.   50 GLACIER Payload Team Patches   ISS Presentation
93.   586 NASA/HRP Team Decals   ISS Presentation
94.   50 OZ Payload Team ISS Research Patches   ISS Presentation

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