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Buzz Lightyear and astronauts' mementos returning from space

September 9, 2009

— Space shuttle Discovery undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) Tuesday with six NASA astronauts, one European Space Agency (ESA) mission specialist and a Star Command Space Ranger for the trip back to Earth.

Yes, that's right, Buzz Lightyear is on his way home.

The animated astronaut has been on a real space mission in the form of a 12-inch tall action figure since launching last year aboard Discovery's STS-124 mission, as part of an educational partnership between NASA and the Walt Disney Company.

Buzz is returning with the STS-128 crew, including space station flight engineer Tim Kopra who spent 44 days living on the ISS. By comparison, Lightyear will have logged 467 days in space, assuming that the weather in Florida does not delay his scheduled landing on Thursday evening.

That is a record, says Disney, pointing out that Lightyear's stay surpasses the longest duration space mission set in 1995 by Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov by a month.

During his time on-board the station, with the help of his crewmates, Lightyear has been the star of recorded videos that are aimed at exciting children about spaceflight, while teaching them the basics of working in weightlessness.

A similar goal is shared for other items returning with the STS-128 astronauts. Although in space for less time than Buzz, just 13 days, the astronauts each packed items to thank those who supported them while helping promote the role space exploration plays back on Earth.

Toys and games

Buzz Lighyear is not the only toy aboard Discovery.

STS-128 pilot Kevin Ford, making his first flight, brought a seven-inch model of the space shuttle for his elementary school and as a Hoosier, a model car for the Indianopolis Motor Speedway in Indiana.

Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang, who coincidentally combined both of Ford's items in the form of candy he flew for his crewmates, chose among his mementos a chess piece for the Swedish Chess Academy.

The wood-carved knight, like the shuttle and car models, were stowed inside the STS-128 Official Flight Kit, a duffle bag-sized container of souvenirs flown at the request of the astronauts and the space agency. The items it carries remain out of reach of the crew for the length of the flight.

Which is why Fuglesang, who also flew a mini frisbee, was unable to best his own record on this mission. Once a Swedish national frisbee champion, Fuglesang on his first flight in 2006 set a record for "time aloft" by floating a spinning frisbee for 20 seconds aboard the ISS.

With his chess piece and frisbee out of reach, Fuglesang devised other means of sharing a game from space.

>Challenging the public to a chess match, Fuglesang built a board on the back page of mission checklist.

"I needed some kind of chess board and so I made it out of Velcro for myself," he explained in a pre-flight interview with collectSPACE. Using blue and yellow hook-and-latch squares, Fuglesang affixed paper pieces that he moved in response to e-mailed challenges.

As of Wednesday, the Swedish media was reporting that Fuglesang's rook, guarding his queen, might be in trouble.

"I am kind of a good amateur player," Fuglesang said of his own abilities. "When I was a teenager, I played for two years in a club and did a bit of competition, but I never raised above average."

Flying the flag

Fuglesang is not flying the white flag to surrender just yet, though the completion of his chess match, which began before he launched, may not come until after he lands. He is however, flying the Swedish flag.

The blue and yellow banner, which is also featured on the STS-128 crew's mission patch, is among a collection of flags inside the Official Flight Kit.

"I am flying a couple of flags," shared Jose Hernandez, whose family were Mexican migrant workers. "One is for a squadron from Mexico that participated in World World II. They asked me to fly their squadron's flag. I am flying a Mexican flag that I will present to President Calderon when I return."

Danny Olivas, who like Hernandez is a mission specialist of Mexican descent, chose to highlight another country's role in his youth.

"The country of Bhutan and my alma mater, University of Texas at El Paso, share an affiliation. The architecture at UTEP is all Bhutanese architecture and so the country, their government, and UT El Paso have a pretty close relationship and so in discussions with the folks at UTEP and with representatives of the country, we were able to get a flag."

Ford, in addition to packing models, brought a flag for one of his schools, the Air Force Institute of Technology.

"Although they have graduated many astronauts, I do not think they had ever had anything ever offered to them. So I am flying their flag and they are going to hang it back in their entry way and make a little note underneath about their contribution to the astronaut corps," said Ford.

For astronaut Pat Forrester the chance to fly a flag was even more personal.

"During the training for this flight, my father passed away. He was my biggest fan, loved space, loved NASA. So he was 30 years with the military, a West Pointer just like me and he was buried at Arlington [Cemetery] in September. And the honor guard that did his service, I am flying their guidon and will present that back to them when I get back, just a way of thanking them for the way that they honored him in his burial."

Homecomings

As Forrester mentioned, the crew members will embark on tours of the country, and to Sweden and other international destinations, to return the items they flew.

"Hopefully, [these items] will serve as motivation for kids and for people who are part of the organization that once presented to them, will say 'Hey, if they did it, why can't I do it?'" said Hernandez.

One such opportunity is set for early October when Disney plans a ticker-tape parade at the Magic Kingdom in Florida to welcome Buzz Lightyear back to Earth, together with several of his NASA space station crewmates.

 


Buzz Lightyear aboard space shuttle Discovery (Disney/NASA)




Astronaut Christer Fuglesang with his Velcro chess board. (ESA)



The STS-128 Official Flight Kit Manifest

The following is the STS-128 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.

 

  1. 625 STS-128 crew patches

  2. 75 Expedition 21 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

5.

 

  1. 20 Small Texas Flags

  2. 5 Small NASA Flags

  3. 5 Small POW/MIA Flags

  4. 5 NASA Patches

  5. 2 Texas Lapel Pins

  6. 1 Bronze NASA Seal Medallion

  7. 1 Silver Shuttle Pendant

 

Agency Presentation

6.

 

Small Flags of the Following States:

  1. 10 California

  2. 10 Texas

  3. 10 Indiana

  4. 10 Virginia

 

Agency Presentation

7.

 

Small Flags of the Following Countries:

  1. 20 Mexico

  2. 10 Isle of Man

  3. 5 Sweden

  4. 2 Bhutan

  5. 2 Norway

  6. 2 Denmark

  7. 2 Finland

 

Agency Presentation

8.

 

10 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

9.

 

  1. 10 Small United States Flags

  2. 10 Small Alabama State Flags

 

Marshall Space Flight Center Presentation

10.

 

  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

11.

 

  1. 2 Small United States Flags

  2. 2 Small Florida State Flags

 

Kennedy Space Center Presentation

12.

 

140 Silver Snoopy Pins

 

Space Flight Awareness Presentation

 

13.

 

25 EVA Patches

 

Agency Presentation

14.

 

  1. 10 STS-128 Crew Patches

  2. 10 Small U.S. flags

  3. 10 DoD Space Test Program Patches

  4. 10 Det 3 Human Spaceflight Support Office Commander Coins

  5. 100 HICO-RAIDS Payload Decals

 

DoD Presentation

15.

 

20 Constellation Pins

 

Constellation Program Office Presentation

 

16.

 

25 COD Patches

 

Center Operations Directorate Presentation

 

17.

 

25 Mission Operations Patches

 

Mission Operation Directorate Presentation

 

Items 18 through 64 are manifested at the request of the STS-128 crewmembers.

 

18.

 

35"x56" Gold and Navy Flag

 

Patriot Guard Riders, Houston, TX

 

19.

 

36"x60" State Flag

 

Indiana State Senate, Indianapolis, IN

 

20.

 

48"x72" Navy and Gold Flag

 

Air Force Institute of Technology, West Point, NY

 

21.

 

2.5" Green Ceramic Airplane

 

Nortre Dame Aerospace Engineering, Notre Dame, IN

 

22.

 

Gold "Class of 1978" Medallion with Ribbon

 

Blackford High School, Hartford City, IN

 

23.

 

South Bend Radio Control Patch

 

South Bend American Model Assoc., South Bend, IN

 

24.

 

7.5" White "B" Band Letter

 

Blackford Bands, Hartford City, IN

 

25.

 

2.5" Red Model Car

 

Indianopolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, IN

 

26.

 

7"x5" White Space Shuttle Model

 

Montpelier Elementary School, Montpelier, IN

 

27.

 

4"x5" Indiana State Flag

 

City of Montpelier, Montpelier, IN

 

28.

 

Gold Class of 1979 Medallion

 

U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY

 

29.

 

19.5"x29.5" Navy and White Pennant

 

The Old Guard, Arlington, VA

 

30.

 

6.5"x6.5" Metal Airplane Hardware

 

Mission Aviation Fellowship, Nampa, ID

 

31.

 

Gold Unit Medallion

 

4th Battallion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, Savannah, GA

 

32.

 

Blue and White Stripe Square Unit Patch

 

3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, GA

 

33.

 

6"x8" Orange Plastic Plaque

 

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

 

34.

 

Black, White and Red Team Jersey

 

The Durban Sharks, Durban, South Africa

 

35.

 

Gold Astros "Defending Freedom" Medallion

 

Houston Astros, Houston, TX

 

36.

 

36"x51" Maroon and White Flag

 

Wounded Warrior Foundation, Arlington, VA

 

37.

 

23"x26" Green, White and Red Flag

 

Survivors of Squadron 201, Mexico City, Mexico

 

38.

 

City Lapel Pin

 

City of Stockton, CA

 

39.

 

35"x57" Red, Black and White School Flag

 

University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA

 

40.

 

Red, White and Blue Ribbon

 

League of United Latin American Citizens, Stockton, CA

 

41.

 

37"x60" Orange, Gold and White Flag

 

Kingdom of Bhutan, Bhutan

 

42.

 

36"x60" Green and White School Banner

 

Dr. Walter Cooper Academy, Rochester, NY

 

43.

 

Congressional Medallion

 

16th Congressional District, Washington, DC

 

44.

 

13"x19" Green, Gold and Navy Pennant

 

U.S. Border Patrol Museum, El Paso, TX

 

45.

 

17.5"x22" Purple and White Chapter Pennant

 

Alzheimer's Association National Office, Chicago, IL

 

46.

 

9"x11" Purple and Silver Chapter Pennant

 

Alzheimer's Assoc., Houston and Southeast Chapter, TX

 

47.

 

13"x15" Maroon Centennial Seal Felt Piece

 

Drew School, San Francisco, CA

 

48.

 

36"x60" White and Blue Flag

 

National Renewable Energy Lab, Golden, CO

 

49.

 

36"x60" Green and White Banner

 

Oyster-Adams Bilingual School, Washington, DC

 

50.

 

36"x60" White and Blue Flag

 

HENAAC, Los Angeles, CA

 

51.

 

Silver Carved Spoon

 

Sametinget, Kiruna, Sweden

 

52.

 

9.5"x15" Black and Gold Pennant

 

Kungliga Operan, Stockholm, Sweden

 

53.

 

Nobel Peace Prize Medallion Replica

 

Norsk Romsenter, Oslo, Norway

 

54.

 

24"x36" Navy, Blue and Gold Team Flag

 

Djurgardens IF Football, Stockholm, Sweden

 

55.

 

4.5" Round Yellow Felt Piece

 

CERN, Geneva, Switzerland

 

56.

 

6"x9" White Swedish Olympic Pennant

 

Sveriges Olympiska Kommitte, Stockholm, Sweden

 

57.

 

Gold "Christoph Polhern" Medallion

 

Sveriges Ingenjorer, Stockholm, Sweden

 

58.

 

2"x5" Carved Wooden Knight Chess Piece

 

Svenska Schackakademien, Stockholm, Sweden

 

59.

 

"Wargentin" Medal

 

Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien, Stockholm, Sweden

 

60.

 

7"x9" Miniature Orange Life Jacket

 

Sjoraddningssallskapet, Gothenburgh, Sweden

 

61.

 

Gold Astronaut Pin

 

Agency Presentation

 

62.

 

Gold Astronaut Pin

 

Agency Presentation

 

63.

 

Gold Astronaut Pin

 

Agency Presentation

 

64.

 

Gold Astronaut Pin

 

Agency Presentation

 

Items 65 through 86 are manifested at the request of the Space Shuttle Program Office and Payload Customers.

 

65.

 

320 8.5"x11" Sheets of Bookmarks

 

Space Shuttle Program (SSP) Presentation

 

66.

 

50 TriDAR Patches

 

SSP Presentation

 

67.

 

75 TriDAR Labels

 

SSP Presentation

 

68.

 

150 17A Mission Patches

 

International Space Station Program (ISSP) Presentation

 

69.

 

150 17A Logo Pins

 

ISSP Presentation

 

70.

 

150 17A Logo Placards

 

ISSP Presentation

 

71.

 

30 Treadmill "T2" Patches

 

ISSP Presentation

 

72.

 

4 Colbert Treadmill Patches

 

ISSP Presentation

 

73.

 

30 Crew Quarters Patches

 

ISSP Presentation

 

74.

 

30 FPS Patches

 

ISSP Presentation

 

75.

 

30 TOCA Patches

 

ISSP Presentation

 

76.

 

200 4"x6" MSRR-1 Flags

 

ISSP Presentation

 

77.

 

30 FCF Patches

 

ISSP Presentation

 

78.

 

10 LMM Patches

 

ISSP Presentation

 

79.

 

37 LMM/CVB Labels

 

ISSP Presentation

 

80.

 

3 ROI Labels

 

ISSP Presentation

 

81.

 

12 EuTEF Pens w/o Ink

 

ISSP Presentation

 

82.

 

100 MPLM Logo Patches

 

ISSP Presentation

 

83.

 

105 MPLM ASI Patches

 

ISSP Presentation

 

84.

 

200 (4"x6") MPLM Flags

 

ISSP Presentation

 

85.

 

250 CMC Patches

 

ISSP Presentation

 

86.

 

250 CMC Pins

 

ISSP Presentation


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