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Astronauts share space through souvenirs

Examples of patches, pins and more onboard shuttle Discovery.
June 4, 2008 — Armstrong and Buzz are in space again, though they aren't the Apollo astronauts who made history walking on the Moon.

Rather, cyclist Lance Armstrong and 'space ranger' Buzz Lightyear are sharing space aboard shuttle Discovery, now docked to the International Space Station. And they are not alone; joining them for the 14-day mission are retired Houston Astros' player Craig Biggio and New York Giants' quarterback Eli Manning.

Of course, none of the individuals (and fictional character) are themselves in space, but the crew of STS-124 chose to take items representing each of them aboard the orbiter.

"Well, he's this super human" said astronaut Karen Nyberg of Lance Armstrong during an interview with collectSPACE before she launched. "I just love his athletic abilities. I am taking one of his [Tour de France] yellow jerseys."

Similarly, Manning's back-up Super Bowl XLII jersey and Biggio's last game-worn jersey have places in the orbiting locker room. Four of the crew members hail from the New York/New Jersey area, home to Manning's Giants, and all live, train and take instruction while in space from mission control in Houston, south of the Astros' Minute Maid Park.

Lightyear, or a 12-inch action figure-version of the Disney and Pixar "Toy Story" spaceman, will "fly" from Discovery to the space station for a six month stay, kicking off an educational partnership between NASA and the house that Walt built.

The stowaways are part of the crew's "personal preference kits" (PPKs), small pouches that hold mementos and not just for celebrities. A majority of the souvenirs are for their friends and family.

"Ryan, he has this little bullet that he used to carry around since he was a little kid. I know that sounds terrible but it's a spent rifle bullet and it just means something to him. I don't know why. So, we're flying that," pilot Ken Ham told collectSPACE about one of his two son's items. "And then Randy, he's a big Green Bay Packers fan, so he's got this Brett Favre thing."

Spacewalker Mike Fossum also took items for his boys.

"My second son John is 17, and he's finishing up his [Boy Scouts'] Eagle and I brought up on my first flight his Eagle badge but [on this flight, I have his] pin that will be pinned onto him during his Eagle ceremony. I flew my older son's [pin] on my first flight, he's already earned his. This time I am flying him a larger Eagle patch that he can have made properly framed and display in his office some day," said Fossum, who serves as a Scoutmaster of a Houston local Boy Scouts troop.

Greg Chamitoff, who joined the ISS's Expedition 17 crew after docking, is the second crewmen of Jewish descent to live aboard the station (the first, Garrett Reisman, will return to Earth with Discovery). He brought with him a pair of mezuzot as gifts for a former teacher and a friend. The encased, prayer-inscribed parchment customarily placed on the door frames of Jewish homes were designed by an Israeli artist who was inspired by space exploration. "I will install them [on the door of my sleep area], take pictures and then put them away," said Chamitoff.

The PPKs can also include small items for the astronauts themselves.

Nyberg brought a few pieces of fabric with her to knit into a quilt after the flight. "My mom taught me to sew when I was six. So I grew sewing, making my own clothes," she said.

Beyond their personal kits, the astronauts could also pack items for organizations in their mission's Official Flight Kit (OFK), a larger stash of official presentation items. In the STS-124 OFK there is a patch for Jet Blue Airlines; World Series pins for both the White Sox and Astros teams; and ocean water for the U.S. Merchant Marine Booster Club in Kings Point, NY.

Ham has a microphone stand for ESPN. Spacewalker Ron Garan has a silver coin for the Manna Energy Foundation, which he founded to combat poverty. Fossum flew a flag for his alma mater, Texas A&M University, continuing his display of Aggie pride that he started during his first flight.

Nyberg, as the University of North Dakota's first alumna to fly in space, took a flag and a certificate for the school, as well as a compact disc. "The School of Engineering has sent a disc that has the names of all the students, faculty and staff since I think 1897, whenever the school started."

The mission's primary payload, the Japanese pressurized module, the primary component of the three-part Kibo lab and the longest component to be added to the outpost, is represented on the crew by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission specialist Aki Hoshide. He chose items for several schools in Japan as well as a package of Zelkova Serrata tree seeds for the government of Tokyo.

"We are [flying] a Japanese flag, but the Kibo itself is the commemorative item, I think," said Hoshide.

The STS-124 Official Flight Kit Manifest

The following is the STS-124 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-124 crew patches
  2. 75 Expedition 16 patches
  Agency Presentation
2.   600 Small United States Flags   Agency Presentation
3.   4 Sets U.S. States & Territories Flags   Agency Presentation
4.   4 Sets United Nations Members Flags   Agency Presentation
  1. 20 Small Texas Flags
  2. 5 Small NASA Flags
  3. 5 Small POW/MIA Flags
  4. 5 NASA Patches
  5. 5 Texas Lapel Pins
  6. 5 U.S./Japan Lapel Pins
  7. 1 Bronze NASA Seal Medallion
  8. 1 Silver Shuttle Pendant
  9. 6 Small JSC Medallions
  Agency Presentation
6.   10 Small Flags of the Following States:
  1. Arizona
  2. South Dakota
  3. Minnesota
  4. Massachusetts
  Agency Presentation
7.   5 Small Flags of the Following States:
  1. New Jersey
  2. Maine
  3. Idaho
  4. Wyoming
  5. California
  6. Texas
  7. New York
  8. Nevada
  9. North Dakota
  Agency Presentation
8.   Small International Flags:
  1. 30 Japan
  2. 10 Russia
  3. 5 Australia
  4. 5 Canada
  5. 3 Vatican
  6. 3 Singapore
  Agency Presentation
9.   20 Each Small Military Flags:
  1. U.S. Air Force
  2. U.S. Army
  3. U.S. Coast Guard
  4. U.S. Marine Corps
  5. 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. 2 Small United States Flags
  2. 2 Small Florida State Flags
  3. 10 Small KSC Coins
  Kennedy Space Center Presentation
13.   100 Silver Snoopy Pins   Space Flight Awareness Presentation
14.   25 EVA Patches   Agency Presentation
  1. 10 STS-124 Crew Patches
  2. 20 Small U.S. flags
  3. 10 DoD Space Test Program Patches
  4. 2 USAF E-7 Chevrons
  5. 1 STS-124 Kibo JEM PM & JEM RMS Patch
  6. 10 Space Development & Test Wing Coins
  DoD Presentation
16.   15 STS-124 Crew Patches   United Space Alliance Presentation
17.   5 3" 2007 Constellation Ornaments   Constellation Program Office Presentation
18.   50 Small SPACE CAMP Flags   U.S. Space & Rocket Center Presentation
  1. 3" Metal National Science Foundation Marker
  2. 3" U.S. Antarctic Program Patch
  Agency Presentation
20.   H.M.S. Hood Cloth Badge   Agency Presentation
21.   4"x5" Portrait Photocopy   Agency Presentation
Items 22 through 95 are manifested at the request of the STS-124 crewmembers.
22.   2"x1" Plain Gold Bar   U.S. Merchant Marine Alumni Assoc., Kings Point, NY
23.   2"x1" Plain Gold Bar   United States Merchant Marine Regiment, Kings Point, NY
24.   4"x1.5" Clear Container of Ocean Water   United States Merchant Marine Booster Club, Kings Point, NY
25.   Embroidered Patch   USS Midway, San Diego, CA
26.   Embroidered Patch   A-6 Intruder Ready Room Association, Washington, DC
27.   5"x5" Mounted Solar Cells   University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
28.   Small Dark Brown Wooden Turtle   University of Maryland, College Park, MD
29.   Small Light Brown Wooden Turtle   University of Maryland Alumni Association, College Park, MD
30.   Black School T-Shirt   Empire High School, Tucson, AZ
31.   Thin Metal Plate   Rede, Inc., New Orleans, LA
32.   4.5"x1.5" Microphone Stand   ESPN, New York, NY
33.   World Series Astros Pin   Houston Astros Baseball Team, Houston, TX
34.   Pink Ribbon Patch   Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, Houston, TX
35.   Lapel Pin   Susan G. Kormen Foundation, Houston, TX
36.   Miniature Compass in Circular Container   Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL
37.   Blue Patch   Jet Blue Airways, New York, NY
38.   Chicago White Sox World Series Pin   Chicago White Sox Baseball Team, Chicago, IL
39.   Beach Sand in Clear Vile   Matangi Island, Matangi, Fiji
40.   3'x5' Blue Banner   Arthur L. Johnson High School, Clark NJ
41.   3'x22" Yellow Banner   United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD
42.   8.5"x11" Certificate   University of North Dakota Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Grand Forks, ND
43.   Compact Disc   University of North Dakota School of Engineering, Grand Forks, ND
44.   3'x5' White Flag   University of North Dakota Alumni Association, Grand Forks, ND
45.   9"x4" Felt Pennant   University of Texas Department of Biomedical Engineering, Austin, TX
46.   3'x5' U.S. Flag   City of Vining, Vining, MN
47.   9"x5.5" Rwandan Flag   Engineers Without Borders, Longmont, CO
48.   10"x4" Multi-Colored Felt Pennant   Arizona Project Challenge, Queen Creek, AZ
49.   9"x4" Felt Pennant   State University of New York, Oneonta, NY
50.   4"x6" Ireland Flag with Signatures   Glencastle National School, Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland
51.   5"x7" Canvas Flag   Mount Carmel High School, Houston, TX
52.   8"x5.5" Decal   Roosevelt High School, Houston, TX
53.   Black and Grey Patch   United States Air Force Weapons School, Las Vegas, NV
54.   Black and White Patch   City of Yonkers, Yonkers, NY
55.   STS-124 Silver Medallion   St. Paul's Catholic Church, Nassau Bay, TX
56.   STS-124 Silver Medallion   Manna Energy Foundation, Houston, TX
57.   3'x5' University Flag   Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
58.   6"x2.5" Sash   Colonneh Lodge, Houston, TX
59.   Gold Medallion   312th Aeronautical Systems Group, Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, OH
60.   Slide Ruler   Texas A&M University College of Engineering, College Station, TX
61.   Boy Scouts of America Patch   BSA Order of the Arrow National Lodge, Houston, TX
62.   Boy Scouts of America Patch   National Eagle Scout Association, Houston, TX
63.   Silver Air Force Wings   Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, TX
64.   3'x5' U.S. Flag   Creech Air Force Base, Indian Springs, NV
65.   21" Bolo Tie   Lakota Native American Indian Tribe, Sioux Falls, SD
66.   3'x2' Texas Flag   City of McAllen, McAllen, TX
67.   27"x15" Japanese Painting   Keio University, Tokyo, Japan
68.   7.5"x4" Abacus   Keio University Department of Engineering, Tokyo, Japan
69.   21"x14" Blue and Red Flag   Keio University Alumni Association, Tokyo, Japan
70.   8.5"x11" Laminated Picture   Futakotamagawa Elementary School, Tokyo, Japan
71.   4.5"x11" White Flag   Maeikei Gakuen Junior High School and High School, Tsukuba, Japan
72.   White Polo Shirt   United World College of South East Asia, Singapore
73.   34"x14" White Banner   Japan National Committee on United World Colleges, Tokyo, Japan
74.   Red Rugby Jersey   Japan Rugby Football Union, Tokyo, Japan
75.   Package of Zelkova Serrata Seeds   Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo, Japan
76.   Kibo Patch   Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Tsukuba, Japan
77.   1.5"x1.5" Mounted Tuning Fork   Draper Laboratory, Cambridge, MA
78.   3'x5' Brown and Navy Banner   California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
79.   Blue T-Shirt   Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, TX
80.   3'x5' Boy Scout Troop #1190 Flag   Scout Troup #1190, Houston, TX
81.   35.5"x34" Tropical Print Scarf   Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia
82.   University Patch   The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
83.   Expedition 17 Silver Medallion   University of Houston Clear Lake Space Science Department, Houston, TX
84.   Expedition 17 Medallion   California Polytechnic State University Math Department, San Luis Obispo, CA
85.   Expedition 17 Medallion   Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
86.   Expedition 17 Medallion   United Space Alliance, Houston, TX
87.   Gold Navy Wings   Agency Presentation
88.   Gold Navy Wings   Agency Presentation
89.   Silver Air Force Wings   Agency Presentation
90.   Gold Astronaut Pin   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 101 are manifested at the request of the STS-124 payload customers.
  1. 100 JAXA STS-124/IJ Patches
  2. 100 JAXA STS-124/IJ Pins w/o needle
  3. 100 Japan Flags
  4. 100 Kibo Logo Flags
  5. 100 JAXA Flags
  6. 100 Kibo Character Decals
  JAXA Presentation
97.   40 BCAT Stickers   International Space Station Presentation
98.   50 OZ Payload Office Patches   International Space Station Presentation
99.   50 Increment 17 Pins   International Space Station Presentation
  1. 75 STS-124 Crew Patches
  2. 300 Sheets SSP Bookmarks
  3. 20 STS-124 Pins
  SSP Presentation

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