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Klingon, cookies and class project arrive at space station with shuttle Discovery

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

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

"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.

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

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."

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

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.

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

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.

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

"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 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.

No.   Description   Sponsor/Purpose
  1. 625 STS-131 crew patches
  2. 75 Expedition 23 patches
  3. 75 Expedition 24 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. 2 Bronze NASA Seal Medallion
  7. 1 Silver Shuttle Pendant
  Agency Presentation
6.   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
7.   10 Small (4"x6") State Flags:
  1. Nebraska
  2. Connecticut
  3. Colorado
  Agency Presentation
8.   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
10.   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
14.   200 Silver Snoopy Pins   Space Flight Awareness Presentation
15.   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
17.   Hold   Johnson Space Center Presentation
18.   25 COD Patches   Center Operations Directorate Presentation
19.   25 Mission Operations Patches   Mission Operation Directorate Presentation
20.   100 Small Metal Shuttle Tokens   Agency Presentation
Items 21 through 95 are manifested at the request of the STS-131 crewmembers.
21.   Gold College Seal with Ribbons   Pensacola Junior College, Pensacola, FL
22.   Navy, White and Gold Centennial Medallion   Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA
23.   Gold, Navy and Yellow Squadron Medallion   Blue Angels, Pensacola, FL
24.   Pewter Medallion on Blue Display Card   Wootten High School, Rockville, MD
25.   5"x8" White and Green School Flag   Coronado High School, Coronado, CA
26.   White T-Shirt   The Laura Ingraham Show, Washington, DC
27.   10.5"x14.5" Car Pennant   Georgia Tech Aerospace and Engineering, Atlanta, GA
28.   3'x5' White, Red and Black Flag   VFA-211 Navy Squadron, Virginia Beach, VA
29.   Black T-Shirt   British Broadcasting Company, London, UK
30.   Squadron Patch   493rd Fighter Squadron, RAF Lakenheath, UK
31.   4.5"x6.5" Red, White and Blue Country Flag   Trencin Cultural Center, Trencin, Slovakia
32.   3.5"x8" Wood Shingle   F-22nd Combined Test Force, Edwards, CA
33.   Gold Ring   University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
34.   2'x4' White Cloth Banner   Meadowlark Elementary School, Eugene, OR
35.   Squadron Patch   114th Fighter Squadron, Klamath Falls, OR
36.   Purple and Yellow Mascot Costume   411th Flight Test Squadron, Edwards, CA
37.   Squadron Patch   40th Flight Test Squadron, Eglin, AFB, FL
38.   Squadron Patch   Edwards AFB, CA
39.   2'x4' White and Green Flag   Sheldon High School, Eugene, OR
40.   2'x3' Black and White Fabric Banner   University of Connecticut School of Engineering, Storrs, CT
41.   2'x3' Blue and White Banner   University of Connecticut Athletic Dept., Storrs, CT
42.   1.5'x2' White and BLue Vinyl Banner   Tyrrell Middle School, Wolcott, CT
43.   White and Orange T-Shirt   New Hartford School, New Hartford, CT
44.   Blue and White T-Shirt   Noah Wallace Middle School, Farmington, CT
45.   Red Bandana   EVA Group, Houston, TX
46.   1'x5' White, Navy and Green Vinyl Banner   Bentley Group, Houston, TX
47.   Black Metal Bracelet   336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB, NC
48.   Squadron Patch   557th Flight Test Squadron, Edwards AFB, CA
49.   Black Lapel Pin   Manned Rocket Project, Chiba, Japan
50.   1'x2' Navy and Orange Pennant   Evanston Township High School, IL
51.   Blue and White T-Shirt   Creekside Intermediate School, League City, TX
52.   Gray School T-Shirt   Stansberry Elementary School, Loveland, CO
53.   13"x19" Class Photo on Canvas   Armand Bayou Montesson School, Houston, TX
54.   14"x14" Tan Cloth Quilting Square   Autism Research Institute, San Diego, CA
55.   Black T-Shirt   Boltz Junior High School, Fort Collins, CO
56.   2"x7" Wood "Peace Pole"   Bennett World School, Fort Collins, CO
57.   Gray and Red T-Shirt   McLoughlin Middle School, Vancouver, WA
58.   Blue and White T-Shirt   Shepardson Elementary School, Fort Collins, CO
59.   9"x18" Gold and Black Pennant   Hudson's Bay High School, Vancouver, WA
60.   1'x1.5' Black and Gold Cloth   Ambassadors Preparatory Academy, Galveston, TX
61.   1.5'x2' White and Navy Flag   Shorter University, Rome, GA
62.   Red, Black and Gold T-Shirt   Pietzsch-MacArthur Elementary, Beaumont, TX
63.   Yellow and Navy T-Shirt   Missouri City Middle School, Missouri City, TX
64.   White T-Shirt   Boys and Girls Club, Pittsfield, MA
65.   3'x5' Navy and Gold Flag   Dearborn Middle School, Roxbury, MA
66.   White and Purple T-Shirt   Paul Quinn College, Dallas, TX
67.   8.5"x11" Blue Paper   Reedy Chapel AME Church, Houston, TX
68.   2'x3' Blue Flag   All Nippon Kuutei Doushikai, Tokyo, Japan
69.   Packet of Seeds   Matsudo City, Chiba, Japan
70.   1'x1.5' Purple Flag   Ochanomizu University Senior High School, Tokyo, Japan
71.   8"x8" White, Blue and Brown Cloth   The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
72.   Packet of Seeds   Young Astronauts Club, Kanagawa, Japan
73.   2'x3' Beige and Black Flag   Kamakura City, Kanagawa, Japan
74.   15" Blue, Gold and Black Patch   Tokai University, Tokyo, Japan
75.   Packet of Seeds   Elementary School at Kamaura, Kanagawa, Japan
76.   1'x5' Black Cloth   Montessori School of Downtown, Clear Lake, TX
77.   1.5x2' White and Red Flag   Gender Equality Bureau, Cabinet Office, Tokyo, Japan
78.   4"x6"x3" Deflated Blue Globe   Secretariat of Strategic Headquarters for Space Policy, Tokyo, Japan
79.   Patch   U.S. Navy, Bangor, Washington
80.   Red, White and Blue Tie   Nebraska Press Association, Lincoln, NE
81.   Gold Ornament   Willow Point Museum, Ashland, NE
82.   5"x7" Photo   Nebraska Education TV, Lincoln, NE
83.   2'x3' Red and White Flag   Hastings College, Hastings, NE
84.   Tan Baseball Cap   National Collegiate Athletic Assoc., Kansas City, MO
85.   White T-Shirt   Children's Hospital, Omaha, NE
86.   Gold, Red and White Medallion   Strategic Air and Space Museum, Ashland, NE
87.   3'x5' Gold and Red State Flag   Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
88.   8.5"x11" Watercolor Cartoon   Omaha World Herald, Omaha, NE
89.   Gold Astronaut Pin   Agency Presentation
90.   Silver Astronaut Wings   Agency Presentation
91.   Gold Astronaut Pin   Agency Presentation
92.   Gold Astronaut Pin   Agency Presentation
93.   Gold Astronaut Pin   Agency Presentation
94.   Gold Astronaut Pin   Agency Presentation
95.   Gold Astronaut Pin   Agency Presentation
Items 96 through 118 are manifested at the request of the Space Shuttle Program Office and Payload Customers.
96.   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
98.   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.   100 Multi-Purpose Logistics Mission Pins   ISSP Presentation
101.   100 Launch Package Manager Patches   ISSP Presentation
102.   50 Capillary Flow Experiments Patches   ISSP Presentation
103.   25 LADA VPU Payload Patches DELETE   ISSP Presentation
104.   100 STS-131 Mission Patches   ISSP Presentation
105.   20 WORF Patches   ISS Presentation
106.   7 Kentucky Flag Patches   ISS Presentation
107.   30 Nanoracks Decals   ISS Presentation
108.   24 MERLIN Patches   ISS Presentation
109.   12 Cardiovascular Patches   ISS Presentation
110.   50 Cardiovascular Decals   ISS Presentation
111.   50 Capillary Flow Experiments Decals   ISS Presentation
112.   50 POIC Decals   ISS Presentation
113.   10 CSA Patches   ISS Presentation
114.   30 Apex-Cambium Decals   ISS Presentation
115.   16 CSA Pins   ISS Presentation
116.   100 CUCU Patches   ISS Presentation
117.   49 TriDAR Patches   ISS Presentation
  1. 1250 ISS Pins
  2. 682 ISS Flags
  ISS Presentation

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