Space collectibles dealer offers to fly flags, tags to space station
March 3, 2020
— You can now plant a flag or add your tag to the outside of the International Space Station (ISS) thanks to a partnership between the operator of a commercial science facility and a space collectibles company.
The Space Collective, a UK-based space memorabilia dealer with operations in the United States, is now taking reservations to launch small flags or personalized name tags to the space station. The cloth collectibles will be packed with science samples in a MISSE-FF (Materials International Space Station Experiment-Flight Facility) carrier that will be mounted to the exterior of the orbiting laboratory for half a year before returning to Earth.
"Send your name to space and back!" The Space Collective announced on its website. "You can have your name embroidered onto one of our patches, have it launched into space where it will orbit outside of the ISS for six months before returning to Earth and making its way to your front door!"
The tags, which are modeled after the badges worn by astronauts, feature a pair of golden or silver wings extending from a depiction of the space station, set against a blue background. For $300 each, buyers can personalize the tag with a name of their choice, up to 14 characters long. Only 75 name tags will be flown.
Or, for the same $300, buyers can instead opt for one of four styles of 4-by-6-inch (10-by-15 centimeter) nylon flags. The Space Collective is offering a choice of country or U.S. state flags, a flag featuring the NASA insignia or one displaying NASA's "ISS 20" logo celebrating two decades of continuous crewed operations on board the International Space Station as of this November.
"Your flag will orbit outside of the ISS for six months, where it will be exposed to the harsh environment of space," the listings for the flags describes.
The name tags and flags, which need to be reserved by March 31, are slated to launch on Northrop Grumman's 14th Cygnus resupply spacecraft atop an Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The space station's Expedition 63 crew will unpack the MISSE carrier from the Cygnus, pass it through an airlock and use a robotic arm to transfer it to its flight facility's mount on the station's exterior backbone truss.
After the material investigations have been exposed to the vacuum of space for half a year, the carrier will be brought back inside the station and packed aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for its return to Earth in the first quarter of 2021.
"When all of the final return checks and procedures are completed, we send it straight to your door," The Space Collective explained, referring to the purchased flags and tags.
Each collectible will ship with flight documentation and photographs, as well as a certificate of authenticity suitable for display.
The name tags and flags follow an earlier payload flight organized by The Space Collective, which included embroidered patches and lapel pins for NASA's 60th anniversary. The last of that souvenir stash returned from the space station on a SpaceX Dragon in January.
MISSE payloads were the first science platforms mounted to the exterior of the International Space Station, dating back to 2001. The MISSE-FF continues that legacy as a cooperative endeavor between a commercial operator and the ISS program.
The MISSE-FF carrier flights are organized under an agreement with NASA and the ISS National Lab as part of the scientific and commercial use of the station.
The Space Collective is offering to fly embroidered name tags and small nylon flags to the International Space Station in fall 2020. The collectibles will fly with science samples and be mounted outside of the orbiting lab for six months before returning to Earth. Example of name tag and certificate pictured. (The Space Collective)
An example of the type of certificate that will accompany the flags flown to the International Space Station by The Space Collective. In addition to the NASA "ISS 20" flag pictured, the company is also offering country, state and NASA logo flags. (The Space Collective)
The Space Collective's flags and name tags will be exposed to the vacuum of space on the MISSE-FF science sample platform mounted to the outside of the International Space Station (NASA)