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Klingon, cookies and class project fly with Discovery (STS-131 OFK)

April 7, 2010

— A "flat" paper doll, a freshly-baked batch of wedding cookies, a cartoon dog, and patches inscribed with a sci-fi alien language are packed among the 17,000 pounds of science experiments, equipment, and supplies that were delivered by shuttle Discovery early Wednesday to the International Space Station (ISS).

Lighting the predawn sky as it lifted off on Monday at 6:21 a.m. EDT (1021 GMT), Discovery launched the STS-131 crew on a 13-day mission to the orbiting laboratory, where they'll perform three spacewalks and move equipment into and out of a moving van module called Leonardo. Led by commander Alan Poindexter, Discovery's crew arrived at the station at 3:44 a.m. EDT (0744 GMT) Wednesday.

The seven astronauts — the shuttle's last full contingent as the fleet's remaining three planned missions are set to fly with one empty seat each — have packed on Discovery mementos and creature comforts to bring a bit of home to the station. They'll return to Earth with many of the same souvenirs to share space with those on the ground.

Sandtarts for the spaceman

One special care package, flown at the request of station resident T.J. Creamer, will be lucky if it lasts the full day let alone remain when Discovery departs for Earth.

Having just this past week marked his 100th day in space as a flight engineer for the station's 23rd expedition crew, it's understandable why Creamer might be eager a taste of home — and that is exactly what the STS-131 crew has for him.

Fulfilling a request Creamer made before he launched last December, Discovery is delivering cookies from an Italian restaurant he frequented while training at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The wedding-style cookies were specially prepared for spaceflight by Bessilyn Piazza, who continues to follow her late mother's recipe while baking the sandtarts at the Italian Cafe in Seabrook for more than 20 years.

"It will be the perfect tribute to my mother," Piazza said in a press release issued before Discovery's launch. "I know how proud she would be to see her sandtarts travel into space."

Contacted by NASA to provide samples for the standard pre-flight testing that all 'space food' undergoes, Piazza ended up making just one change to the cookies at the space agency's request: reducing the amount of powdered sugar that normally coats each sandtart.

Still, the half-dollar size pastries are bound to be a sweet treat for Creamer and his crewmates. The experience has been sweet for Piazza, too.

"My feet haven't touched the ground since I received the news," said Piazza. "This is something I never dreamed would happen. I'm still on cloud nine."

Flight's fifth female and first doggie

Not all of Discovery's "sweet" deliveries are edible.

Dorothy "Dottie" Metcalf-Lindenburger, who together with fellow STS-131 mission specialists Stephanie Wilson and Naoko Yamazaki as well as Expedition 23 flight engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson have established the record for the most women astronauts in space at one time, has tucked inside her notebook the crew's honorary fifth female.

Standing just seven inches tall and less than one-tenth of a millimeter thick, "Flat Marie" is the paper doll creation of 5-year-old Marie Plowman. A pre-school student at First Presbyterian Christian School in Spokane, Washington, the real Marie created her flat self as a part of her class's "Flat Stanley" project based on the 1964 children's book by the same title. In the book, author Jeff Brown shares the story of Stanley, who's flattened and then embarks on adventures by being mailed in an envelope.

Metcalf-Lindenburger, a teacher herself who was selected with NASA's 2004 educator-astronaut class, is connected with Marie through her friendship with the child's maternal grandfather, a retired history professor at Whitman College where Metcalf-Lindenburger graduated.

Marie's mother originally e-mailed Metcalf-Lindenburger to ask if she would share some of her training experiences.

"She e-mailed right back and said that she would not only be willing to do that but that she would be happy to take 'Flat Marie' along on the mission as well," said Stephanie Plowman in an interview with The Spokesman-Review.

"Flat Marie" is not the only two-dimensional character on the shuttle.

Clayton Anderson, a fellow STS-131 mission specialist, is flying "Dogie the Doggie," the childhood comic creation of cartoonist Jeff Koterba. Anderson reached out to Koterba after seeing an editorial cartoon Koterba drew about him for The Omaha World-Herald newspaper in Nebraska.

"Last fall [Anderson] invited me to draw two cartoons that he could take on the the shuttle," Koterba explained in an interview with the Political Cartoon Index, a website about editorial cartoons, adding that one would be given to the World-Herald and the other he would keep. "The cartoon for myself has to do with Dogie the Doggie."

The one-frame comic, which depicts the spacesuited dog "Dogie" thinking "I finally made it..." while spacewalking outside the shuttle, features Koterba's version of another famous comic strip dog.

"Dogie the Doggie was my childhood answer to Snoopy," Koterba told interviewer Rob Tornoe, "created in response to my father who didn't believe I should just be copying characters out of the comics pages."

Window cling-on Klingon

'Copying characters' is exactly what Tony Boatright did to design part of NASA's patch for the Window Observational Research Facility, a science equipment rack flying aboard Discovery that once installed on the station's Destiny lab science window will enable astronaut-tended and remote- controlled Earth-observation experiments.

Recognizing that the rack's acronym — WORF — was the name given to a character, Lt. Commander Worf, on the sci-fi television series "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Deep Space Nine," Boatright had the idea to use the fictional security officer's native alien language, Klingon, on the emblem.

He contacted Star Trek executive producer Rick Berman's office to make certain that he "wouldn't violate any Star Trek canon."

"We agreed on the Klingon Klinshai, or Mandel, script that had appeared in 'The U.S.S. Enterprise Officer's Manual'... to spell out the name W-O-R-F," Boatright explained in a discussion forum post he made on

Boatright, who was a member of the WORF development team when he designed the patch in 2001, is proud of the final result.

"[By] late next week, I'll have my art (via a WORF sticker on the front of the rack) on permanent display in a fairly exclusive orbital gallery," he wrote.

More of Boatright's WORF patches are stowed inside the STS-131 Official Flight Kit (OFK), a stash of souvenirs to be distributed to team members and other organizations after Discovery returns to Earth.

Among those other items in the OFK are hundreds of the STS-131 mission patch as designed by NASA artist Cindy Busch under the lead of Metcalf-Lindenburger, as well as the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) patch for crew member Yamazaki.

The latter, a tear-drop shape patch, features multi-colored four-leaf clovers and a rainbow stretching from the space station to Mars.

"For me it represents that space holds a lot of possibilities for the future. I hope we'll continue dreaming about space, and it is that hope that is [symbolized] in the patch," said Yamazaki in an interview with collectSPACE.


The space shuttle Discovery, as seen from the International Space Station, with the Leonardo module in its payload bay. (NASA)

To prepare her sandtarts for spaceflight, Bessilyn Piazza had to go lighter on the powdered sugar coating. (The Italian Cafe)

Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger poses with a "Flat Stanley" doll like the "Flat Marie" that launched with her into space. (NASA)

Cartoonist Jeff Koterba's "Dogie the Doggie" features in one of two, one-frame cartoons flying with Discovery. (Jeff Koterba)

Tony Boatright's WORF artwork is shown affixed to the front of the Window Operational Research Facility. (NASA/Boatright)

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) patch for STS-131 mission specialist Naoko Yamazaki. (JAXA)

The STS-131 Official Flight Kit Manifest

The following is the STS-131 Official Flight Kit manifest, as provided by NASA. Inventory numbers that are missing indicate items that were removed prior to launch.


  Description   Sponsor/Purpose




  1. 625 STS-131 crew patches

  2. 75 Expedition 23 patches

  3. 75 Expedition 24 patches


Agency Presentation



800 Small United States Flags


Agency Presentation



5 Sets U.S. States & Territories Flags


Agency Presentation



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. 2 Bronze NASA Seal Medallion

  7. 1 Silver Shuttle Pendant


Agency Presentation



5 Small (4"x6") State Flags:

  1. Maryland

  2. Florida

  3. California

  4. Oregon

  5. Washington

  6. Massachusetts

  7. South Carolina

  8. Georgia


Agency Presentation



10 Small (4"x6") State Flags:

  1. Nebraska

  2. Connecticut

  3. Colorado


Agency Presentation



2 Small Flags of the Following Countries:

  1. Slovenia

  2. Zambia

  3. United Kingdom

  4. Tunisia


Agency Presentation



  1. 25 Small (4"x6") Flags of Japan

  2. 5 Small (4"x6") JAXA Flags


Agency Presentation



Small (4"x6") Military Flags:

  1. 10 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



200 Silver Snoopy Pins


Space Flight Awareness Presentation




25 EVA Patches


Agency Presentation



  1. 10 STS-131 Crew Patches

  2. 14 Small U.S. flags

  3. 10 DoD Space Test Program Patches

  4. 10 Space Development & Test Wing Coins

  5. 16 Military Insignia

  6. 3 USAF Retired Lapel Pins

  7. 1 Master Space Operations Badge

  8. 1 160th Special Ops Aviation Regiment Patch


DoD Presentation





Johnson Space Center Presentation




25 COD Patches


Center Operations Directorate Presentation




25 Mission Operations Patches


Mission Operation Directorate Presentation




100 Small Metal Shuttle Tokens


Agency Presentation


Items 21 through 95 are manifested at the request of the STS-131 crewmembers.




Gold College Seal with Ribbons


Pensacola Junior College, Pensacola, FL




Navy, White and Gold Centennial Medallion


Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA




Gold, Navy and Yellow Squadron Medallion


Blue Angels, Pensacola, FL




Pewter Medallion on Blue Display Card


Wootten High School, Rockville, MD




5"x8" White and Green School Flag


Coronado High School, Coronado, CA




White T-Shirt


The Laura Ingraham Show, Washington, DC




10.5"x14.5" Car Pennant


Georgia Tech Aerospace and Engineering, Atlanta, GA




3'x5' White, Red and Black Flag


VFA-211 Navy Squadron, Virginia Beach, VA




Black T-Shirt


British Broadcasting Company, London, UK




Squadron Patch


493rd Fighter Squadron, RAF Lakenheath, UK




4.5"x6.5" Red, White and Blue Country Flag


Trencin Cultural Center, Trencin, Slovakia




3.5"x8" Wood Shingle


F-22nd Combined Test Force, Edwards, CA




Gold Ring


University of Oregon, Eugene, OR




2'x4' White Cloth Banner


Meadowlark Elementary School, Eugene, OR




Squadron Patch


114th Fighter Squadron, Klamath Falls, OR




Purple and Yellow Mascot Costume


411th Flight Test Squadron, Edwards, CA




Squadron Patch


40th Flight Test Squadron, Eglin, AFB, FL




Squadron Patch


Edwards AFB, CA




2'x4' White and Green Flag


Sheldon High School, Eugene, OR




2'x3' Black and White Fabric Banner


University of Connecticut School of Engineering, Storrs, CT




2'x3' Blue and White Banner


University of Connecticut Athletic Dept., Storrs, CT




1.5'x2' White and BLue Vinyl Banner


Tyrrell Middle School, Wolcott, CT




White and Orange T-Shirt


New Hartford School, New Hartford, CT




Blue and White T-Shirt


Noah Wallace Middle School, Farmington, CT




Red Bandana


EVA Group, Houston, TX




1'x5' White, Navy and Green Vinyl Banner


Bentley Group, Houston, TX




Black Metal Bracelet


336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB, NC




Squadron Patch


557th Flight Test Squadron, Edwards AFB, CA




Black Lapel Pin


Manned Rocket Project, Chiba, Japan




1'x2' Navy and Orange Pennant


Evanston Township High School, IL




Blue and White T-Shirt


Creekside Intermediate School, League City, TX




Gray School T-Shirt


Stansberry Elementary School, Loveland, CO




13"x19" Class Photo on Canvas


Armand Bayou Montesson School, Houston, TX




14"x14" Tan Cloth Quilting Square


Autism Research Institute, San Diego, CA




Black T-Shirt


Boltz Junior High School, Fort Collins, CO




2"x7" Wood "Peace Pole"


Bennett World School, Fort Collins, CO




Gray and Red T-Shirt


McLoughlin Middle School, Vancouver, WA




Blue and White T-Shirt


Shepardson Elementary School, Fort Collins, CO




9"x18" Gold and Black Pennant


Hudson's Bay High School, Vancouver, WA




1'x1.5' Black and Gold Cloth


Ambassadors Preparatory Academy, Galveston, TX




1.5'x2' White and Navy Flag


Shorter University, Rome, GA




Red, Black and Gold T-Shirt


Pietzsch-MacArthur Elementary, Beaumont, TX




Yellow and Navy T-Shirt


Missouri City Middle School, Missouri City, TX




White T-Shirt


Boys and Girls Club, Pittsfield, MA




3'x5' Navy and Gold Flag


Dearborn Middle School, Roxbury, MA




White and Purple T-Shirt


Paul Quinn College, Dallas, TX




8.5"x11" Blue Paper


Reedy Chapel AME Church, Houston, TX




2'x3' Blue Flag


All Nippon Kuutei Doushikai, Tokyo, Japan




Packet of Seeds


Matsudo City, Chiba, Japan




1'x1.5' Purple Flag


Ochanomizu University Senior High School, Tokyo, Japan




8"x8" White, Blue and Brown Cloth


The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan




Packet of Seeds


Young Astronauts Club, Kanagawa, Japan




2'x3' Beige and Black Flag


Kamakura City, Kanagawa, Japan




15" Blue, Gold and Black Patch


Tokai University, Tokyo, Japan




Packet of Seeds


Elementary School at Kamaura, Kanagawa, Japan




1'x5' Black Cloth


Montessori School of Downtown, Clear Lake, TX




1.5x2' White and Red Flag


Gender Equality Bureau, Cabinet Office, Tokyo, Japan




4"x6"x3" Deflated Blue Globe


Secretariat of Strategic Headquarters for Space Policy, Tokyo, Japan






U.S. Navy, Bangor, Washington




Red, White and Blue Tie


Nebraska Press Association, Lincoln, NE




Gold Ornament


Willow Point Museum, Ashland, NE




5"x7" Photo


Nebraska Education TV, Lincoln, NE




2'x3' Red and White Flag


Hastings College, Hastings, NE




Tan Baseball Cap


National Collegiate Athletic Assoc., Kansas City, MO




White T-Shirt


Children's Hospital, Omaha, NE




Gold, Red and White Medallion


Strategic Air and Space Museum, Ashland, NE




3'x5' Gold and Red State Flag


Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa




8.5"x11" Watercolor Cartoon


Omaha World Herald, Omaha, NE




Gold Astronaut Pin


Agency Presentation




Silver Astronaut Wings


Agency Presentation




Gold Astronaut Pin


Agency Presentation




Gold Astronaut Pin


Agency Presentation




Gold Astronaut Pin


Agency Presentation




Gold Astronaut Pin


Agency Presentation




Gold Astronaut Pin


Agency Presentation


Items 96 through 118 are manifested at the request of the Space Shuttle Program Office and Payload Customers.




366 Sheets of Bookmarks


Space Shuttle Program (SSP) Presentation




  1. 10 Space Test Program (STP) Pins

  2. 10 STP Patches DELETE

  3. 3 STP Patches

  4. 50 STP Space Tissue Loss (STL) Payload Patches

  5. 170 STP STL Payload Decals


DoD Presentation



4 Boy Scouts of America Centennial Patches


International Space Station Program Presentation




  1. 140 Small (4"x6") Flags of Japan

  2. 140 Small (4"x6") JAXA Flags

  3. 70 JAXA Expedition 22/23 Patches DELETE

  4. 70 JAXA STS-131 Mission Patches

  5. 70 JAXA Expedition 22/23 Pins DELETE


ISSP/JAXA Presentation



100 Multi-Purpose Logistics Mission Pins


ISSP Presentation




100 Launch Package Manager Patches


ISSP Presentation




50 Capillary Flow Experiments Patches


ISSP Presentation




25 LADA VPU Payload Patches DELETE


ISSP Presentation




100 STS-131 Mission Patches


ISSP Presentation




20 WORF Patches


ISS Presentation




7 Kentucky Flag Patches


ISS Presentation




30 Nanoracks Decals


ISS Presentation




24 MERLIN Patches


ISS Presentation




12 Cardiovascular Patches


ISS Presentation




50 Cardiovascular Decals


ISS Presentation




50 Capillary Flow Experiments Decals


ISS Presentation




50 POIC Decals


ISS Presentation




10 CSA Patches


ISS Presentation




30 Apex-Cambium Decals


ISS Presentation




16 CSA Pins


ISS Presentation




100 CUCU Patches


ISS Presentation




49 TriDAR Patches


ISS Presentation




  1. 1250 ISS Pins

  2. 682 ISS Flags


ISS Presentation

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