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Lightsaber leads list of mission mementos
The STS-120 crew chooses contents of Official Flight Kit

Item 18 "Lightsaber movie prop" as packaged for STS-120's Official Flight Kit (Image: Lucasfilm)
October 26, 2007 — Item number 22 is for Pam Melroy's alma matter. Stephanie Wilson chose to fly number 52 in connection with her former summer job. Items 70 through 78 will be returned by Paolo Nespoli. And oh yes, item 18 is Luke Skywalker's lightsaber...

The contents of the STS-120 Official Flight Kit (OFK) are as varied as the mission's astronauts and for good reason: they selected most of the mementos to be packed inside. Along with the few personal souvenirs that they are flying for family and friends inside smaller preference kits, the 2 cubic feet alloted by the OFK are the crew's means to say thanks to the schools, companies, civic centers and other organizations that have supported them over the years.

This particular mission aboard space shuttle Discovery is especially busy, with five spacewalks scheduled to assist in preparing the International Space Station for the arrival of international science labs, but even were the astronauts to have an abundance of free time, the items in the OFK would remain stowed for the length of the 14-day mission, with only a few exceptions.

"Oh, I've got a lot of little things," explained commander Pam Melroy in a preflight interview with collectSPACE. "I have a banner from my brother's son's school district in upstate New York [item 28]. I have some mementos from several different schools that I have connections with [e.g. item 22].

"For me, what I have really been focusing on is actually the Expedition crew," continued Melroy, referring to the space station's residents. Together with ISS commander Peggy Whitson, Melroy is setting a record for the first females to lead space flights at the same time. "We have a few special flight data file slots, as we call them, where things you can actually take out and play with on orbit. So for me, I have been really focused on selecting some unique gifts, both for the station crew and also some little surprises for my own crew."

Melroy was coy about what those items were, as she did not want to spoil the surprise, but she did share a hint. "I will tell you that the stuff for the Expedition crew may have something to do with the fact that we're approaching the holiday season," she teased.

STS-120's commander wasn't the only crew member with the holidays on her/his mind. Dan Tani, who on Thursday transferred from Discovery's to the station's crew, is as of now scheduled to return home with the next space shuttle mission, before Christmas. So, has he packed gifts for his two young daughters?

"I am bringing some jewelry for my daughters and for my wife but I am not bringing anything specifically Christmas- wise," ISS Expedition 16's newest flight engineer replied. "In fact the worse thing sort of, in this situation that could happen is that we anticipate I will be home for Christmas and then something happens, and all of sudden I am not."

Instead, Tani is bringing pictures and movies of his family, as well as memorabilia related to his favorite sports team.

Speaking several weeks before his flight, Tani shared, "I have with me some Cubs memorabilia so if they choose to go all the way this year, I'll be proud to display that and help them celebrate. I've spent my whole life as a Cubs fan, maybe I had to leave the Earth to see them go all the way [to the World Series]." Sadly, that was not to be, as Tani acknowledged when he arrived in Florida last week in preparation for the launch.

"I was thinking about how thankful I am to my beloved Cubs who allowed me to fully concentrate on my mission this October by giving me the time to not have to worry about staying up late watching baseball games," he said with a wide smile.

STS-120 mission specialist Doug Wheelock also selected items related to baseball, though his focus was on specific former player, Bobby Murcer.

"He used to play for the New York Yankees, and when I grew up in upstate New York, he was my hero," Wheelock told collectSPACE. "Right around Christmas of last year, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and he came here to MD Anderson [Cancer Center] in Houston to get treatment. I reached out to him to try to share what he has meant to me over the years, giving me a sense of teamwork... just kind of a role model to me."

"We have met several times now and he's become a dear friend. I am carrying one of his jerseys to space with me, as well as one of his baseball cards, it's actually a [card] with him and Pete Rose on the baseball card, for him," he said.

Wheelock, who will perform his first spacewalk on Friday, has also packed in the OFK a banner from his high school [item number 59] and a crest from his 1983 class at West Point [item 60].

Stephanie Wilson, who will operate both the shuttle's and station's robotic arms, also had school spirit on her mind when choosing what to pack. During her first mission, she underscored her degree from the University of Texas in a show of good natured 'Longhorns' rivalry with another crew member, a Texas A&M 'Aggie'.

"On this flight," Wilson confessed, "the rivalry is between Harvard, MIT, and Wellesley since Pam [Melroy] is a Wellesley graduate, Dan [Tani] is an MIT graduate, and I am a Harvard graduate. So, I will expect there to be some memorabilia that will come out and some pictures will be taken with those items."

Wilson has also chosen to bring with her a page of sheet music from Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 "Ode to Joy" signed by Boston Symphony Orchestra maestro James Levine and members of the BSO [item 52]. Long before becoming an astronaut, Wilson worked in a music store in Tanglewood, Massachusetts, which is the summer home of the orchestra.

Pilot George Zamka's selections emphasize the harmony among classmates, rather than the rivalries that motivated some of his crewmates.

"I'm taking up a class flag from the Naval Academy, the class of 1984, and some patches. There are three of us from that class that ended up being here, so I am taking up the patches from those members, it's Bob Curbeam and Charlie Hobaugh and myself, and hopefully we'll be able to have a celebration with our class members. It's nice to be able to do that. I think I am more proud of my class members than I am of myself being able to take this up for them, so it is a nice thing for me to be able to do."

Zamka also added, "I am taking up a patch from a Polish squadron [item 46] that had some association with the United States and that goes back to 'Zamka', the Polish family name."

Spacewalker Scott Parazynski also looked to his family's heritage for inspiration.

"He's not exactly my great, great grandfather, he was the brother of my great, great grandfather I believe," explained Parazynski of David Gaillard, one of the chief engineers of the Panama Canal. "In its day, [the canal] was the space station of its era, or the moon shot of its era."

"The Gaillard cut, one of the most difficult to prepare sections of the canal, 8 miles long, is named after David Gaillard. So I established contact with the Panama Canal Museum and they have graciously provided a couple of these Roosevelt medals [item numbers 44, 45] that were presented to engineers or workers who spent at least two years working on the canal during its assembly, and so I will return one to the museum and one to Panama after the flight. So, it's kind of a neat connection to my roots and also just a salute to very challenging engineering feats of the eras," Parazynski said.

European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli is also planning to travel to deliver his OFK mementos.

"I try to fly little flags for each one of the organizations or even from towns, things I have dealt with over the last year, I am flying little flags with their insignia or logos or patch or whatever. So I have 20 of these flags that will fly and I am looking forward to go back after the flight and present them back to them, thanking them for essentially all they did to help me achieving this goal," said Nespoli.

Other than the astronauts, NASA, its contractors and its international partners are flying items to present post-flight to employees and their supporters, including item 18, one Lightsaber movie prop.

Packed on-board Discovery in recognition of the 30 year anniversary of the Star Wars film franchise, the lightsaber was wielded by actor Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi. George Lucas, who created Star Wars was there to watch STS-120, and the lightsaber, launch to space.

"We were all excited to get the call from NASA to be part of the launch of the shuttle Discovery," said Lucas in a statement e-mailed to collectSPACE. "Star Wars is set in an entirely made-up galaxy, so knowing that a small part of Star Wars is speeding through our own galaxy is pretty amazing."

Lucas added, "I did make sure to tell them not to turn the lightsaber on up there."

The STS-120 Official Flight Kit Manifest

The following is the STS-120 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.   650 STS-120 Crew 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. 4 Small POW/MIA Flags
  4. 1 Small Smithsonian Institution Flag
  5. 1 Bronze NASA Seal
  6. 3 Silver Shuttle Pendants
  7. 2 Small Florida Flags
  Agency Presentation
6.   10 Small Flags of the Following States:
  1. New York
  2. Michigan
  Agency Presentation
7.   5 Small Flags of the Following States:
  1. California
  2. Colorado
  3. Georgia
  4. South Carolina
  5. Alabama
  6. North Carolina
  7. Illinois
  Agency Presentation
8.   5 Small Flags of the Following Countries:
  1. Australia
  2. Ireland
  3. Japan
  4. New Zealand
  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
12.   200 Silver Snoopy Pins   Space Flight Awareness Presentation
13.   25 EVA Patches   Agency Presentation
14.   20 Center Operations Patches   Agency Presentation
  1. 10 STS-120 Crew Patches
  2. 20 Small U.S. Flags
  3. 5 DoD Space Test Program Patches
  4. 2 USAF Master Space Operations Badges
  5. 1 USAF Senior Space Operations Badge
  6. 4 Colonel 0-6 Insignia (Eagles)
  7. 4 Lt. Colonel (0-5) Insignia (Silver Leaf)
  8. 4 Major (0-4) Insignia (Gold Leafs)
  DoD Presentation
16.   15 STS-120 Crew Patches   United Space Alliance Presentation
17.   1 Women's Air and Space Museum Patch   Agency Presentation
18.   1 Lightsaber Movie Prop   Agency Presentation
19.   1 Small Mini-Disc   Agency Presentation
Items 20 through 96 are manifested at the request of the STS-120 crewmembers.
20.   Red, White and Blue Patch   Nova Aerospace, Edinburgh, Australia
21.   Gold and Burgundy Medallion   Monsignor Farrell High School, Staten Island, NY
22.   1'x2' White and Blue School Banner   Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA
23.   C-9 Patch   C-9 Microgravity Program, Houston, TX
24.   Bronze Medallion   Second Air Refueling Squadron, McGuire AFB, NJ
25.   White, Black and Aqua Cloth Banner   Coastal Studies for Girls, Freeport, ME
26.   5"x5" School Magnet   The Ellis School, Pittsburgh, PA
27.   3'x5' U.S. Flag   Redding Elementary, Pittsburgh, PA
28.   3'x5' School Banner   Canandaigua City School District, Canandaigua, NY
29.   Bronze Medallion   SS. Cyril & Methodius School, Lemont, IL
30.   3'x5' Marine Corps Flag   United States Marine Corps, NAS Oceania, VA
31.   3'x5' Columbian Flag   Columbian Government, Bogota, Columbia
32.   Michigan's Own Patch   Michigan's Own Inc., Frankenmuth, MI
33.   5"x5" Region of Roma Flag   Region of Roma, Rome, Italy
34.   4"x6" European Astronaut Centre Flag   European Astronaut Centre, Cologne, Germany
35.   4"x6" Thales Alenia Space Flag   Thales Alenia, Turino, Italy
36.   4"x6" Thales Alenia Flag   Thales Alenia PROEL, Florence, Italy
37.   4"x6" Altec Flag   Altec, Turino, Italy
38.   4"x6" Agenzia Spaziale Italiana Flag   Italian Space Agency, Rome, Italy
39.   3'x5' White Flag   Poe Elementary School, Houston, TX
40.   White T-Shirt   Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, TX
41.   White and Blue Patch   Young Brothers Tae Kwon Do, Houston, TX
42.   3'x5' White and Blue Flag   Autism Speaks! New York, NY
43.   Silver Olympic Luge Team Pin   United States Olympic Luge Team, Lake Placid, NY
44.   Bronze Medal with One Bar   Panama Canal Museum of Florida, St. Petersburg, FL
45.   Bronze Medal with Two Bars   Panama Canal Authority, Miraflores, Panama
46.   Kosciuszko Polish-American Emblem Patch   Polish Aerospace Society, Warsaw, Poland
47.   NBL Patch   Neutral Buoyancy Lab, Houston, TX
48.   Varsity Letter Patch   Dakar Academy, Dakar, Senegal
49.   5"x7" Photograph   Dr. Martin Luther King Center, Atlanta, GA
50.   12"x15" Poster   Berkshire Music School, Pittsfield, MA
51.   3'x1.5' Purple and Gold Banner   Williams College, Williamstown, MA
52.   1"x17" Sheet Music   Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston, MA
53.   12"x19" Canvas Photo   Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA
54.   8.5"x11" Photo Copy   Berkshire Historical Society, Pittsfield, MA
55.   8.5"x11" Paper Logo   Harvard University School of Engineering, Cambridge, MA
56.   Foam Hockey Puck   Boston Bruins, Boston, MA
57.   Gold Medallion   Jet Propulsion Lab, Pasadena, CA
58.   3'x5' Purple Cloth   Boys & Girls Club of Atlanta, Atlanta, GA
59.   3'x5' Black and Yellow Vinyl Flag   Windsor Central High School, Windsor, NY
60.   Burgundy Sash   United States Military Academy, West Point, NY
61.   15"x11" White and Red Flag   Troy State University, Troy, AL
62.   6"x5" Navy & Red Varsity Letter   John Paul II High School, Plano, TX
63.   Grey and Black Patch   West Point Preparatory, Fort Monmouth, NJ
64.   16"x10" Purple and White Pennant   Forestdale School, Bryant Pond, ME
65.   4"x6" Red, White and Blue Flag   State of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC
66.   White and Black Football Jersey   City of Windsor, Windsor, NY
67.   2'x20" Grey and Yellow Cloth Banner   Company 3 G, United States Corps of Cadets, West Point, NY
68.   Blue Flag with Crest   State of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
69.   4"x6" University Flag   Polytechnic University of New York, Brooklyn, NY
70.   4"x6" Organization Flag   Civico Planetario di Milano "Ulrico Hoepli", Milan, Italy
71.   4"x6" Organization Flag   Lega Italiana Per La Lotta Contro I Tumori, Siena, Italy
72.   4"x6" Institute Flag   Instituto Tecnico V. Fossombroni, Grosseto, Italy
73.   4"x6" Foundation Flag   European Foundation for Space, Strasbourg, France
74.   4"x6" Foundation Flag   National Italian Foundation, Washington, DC
75.   4"x6" Organization Flag   Order Sons of Italy in America, Brooklyn, NY
76.   4"x6" Ministry Flag   Ministero della Difesa, Rome, Italy
77.   3'x5' Ceremonial Flag   President of the Republic of Italy, Rome, Italy
78.   3'x5' Consulate Flag   European Space Agency, Paris, France
79.   3'x5' Blue, White and Pink Flag   Houston Museum of Natural Science Flag, Houston, TX
80.   2.5'x1.5' Junior Reserves Officers' Banner   League City Middle School, League City, TX
81.   Black and Blue Patch   Young Astronauts Program, Titusville, FL
82.   Military Wings   Headquarters Army, Rome, Italy
83.   Special Forces Wing Pin   Headquarters Special Forces, Livorno, Italy
84.   Paratrooper Wing Pin   Headquarters Paratrooper Brigate, Livorno, Italy
85.   4"x5" Consulate Flag   Italian Consulate, Houston, TX
86.   4"x6" Ambassador Flag   Italian Embassy, Washington, DC
87.   Silver Military Wings   Agency Presentation
88.   Silver Military Wings   Agency Presentation
89.   Gold Italian Military 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
96.   Gold Astronaut Pin   Agency Presentation
Items 97 through 102 are manifested at the request of the STS-120 payload customers.
  1. 75 ISS-10A Patches
  2. 25 ISS Increment Patches
  3. 25 ISS Research Payload Patches
  4. 50 Node 2 Patches
  5. 25 Node 2 Pins
  6. 25 JSC Engineering Patches
  7. 2 11"x17" TASI News Letters
  8. 14 5"x5" ESA/Node Project Team Pictures
  Space Shuttle Program Presentation
  1. 3 Sheets of Photo Paper Images of Castelli Romani (ESRIN Area)
  2. 1 CD
  3. 10 ESA Patches
  European Space Agency Presentation Items
  1. 10 ASI Patches
  2. 300 Small Flags of Italy
  3. 55 "Esperia" Mission Logo Patches
  4. 1 7"x5" Italian Constitution
  5. 100 Small Republic of Italy Flags
  6. 100 Small Italian Ministry of Social Solidarity Flags
  7. 100 Small Advanced Logistics Technology Center Flags
  8. 100 Small Thales Alenia Space Flags
  9. 15 Small Flags of Rome, Turin and Milan (5 Each)
  10. 5 Small Lazio Region of Italy Flags
  11. 1 Rubber Stamp with Mission Logo
  Italian Space Agency Presentation Items
100.   25 RAMBO Patches   Department of Defense Presentation Item
  1. 250 Sheets of Bookmarks
  2. 100 Sheets of Bookmarks
  Space Shuttle Program Office Presentation Items / SSP/Redbird - Fredericksburg High Aerospace Program
102.   7 STS-117 Pins   United Space Alliance Presentation Items
103.   20 Small ASI Banners   Italian Space Agency Presentation Items
104.   1 French Air Force Patch   Kennedy Space Center Presentation Item
102.   1 Grovestown DPS Patch   Agency Presentation

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