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Astronauts to give their thanks with shuttle stuff(ing) (STS-129 OFK)

November 25, 2009

— They may not have the traditional fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner, but the seven astronauts returning to Earth onboard space shuttle Atlantis are set to show their thanks with a memento-stuffed locker for those who made their mission a success.

The STS-129 crew hit the road for the holiday Wednesday, departing from the International Space Station (ISS) after six days delivering spare parts to extend the outpost's on-orbit lifespan. They will spend today and Thanksgiving day circling the planet as they prepare their ship for a return to Earth on Friday, weather permitting.

This isn't the first shuttle crew to spend Thanksgiving in space: Seven missions dating back to 1985 have spent "turkey day" in orbit, many complete with the turkey. The NASA food lab has, at the commander's request, prepared special meals with thermostabilized smoked turkey, freeze dried cornbread stuffing and spicy green beans, as well as condiment-size packs of cranberry sauce.

Atlantis' commander, Charles "Scorch" Hobaugh, however, decided he and his crew would forego the festive foods for whatever was on the regular menu.

"Whatever is in flight day [11] 'Meal B' that our wonderful food people packed for us, that's what we're eating. And actually, I guess it's 'Meal C,'" explained Hobaugh during a news conference held from space on Tuesday.

"Thanksgiving isn't all about what you eat, it's the people you spend it with. This has become my second family and of course, my main family is back home," he added.

There is a third "family" that Hobaugh and his crewmates have included as part of their mission, at least vicariously: the organizations, educational institutions and community societies that supported each of them individually and together as a crew. For them, the astronauts have packed small souvenirs in the mission's Official Flight Kit (OFK).

"Trying to find things you can pay back organizations and outfits that either have special meaning to me or just do something special for the community or the U.S. people in general can be hard," said Hobaugh in a preflight interview with collectSPACE.

Every shuttle mission carries the duffle-bag-size OFK, in which crew members can carry 20 small items alongside mementos packed by NASA. The package of space-flown souvenirs is not Thanksgiving-specific, but it does share the theme of the holiday: giving thanks.

For family, friends and fraternities

Hobaugh, a Marine Corps colonel, looked to his history in the military to chose some of the items he flew. In addition to carrying a banner for the U.S. Naval Academy, he also has an item with relevance to a fellow student.

"My roommate from the Academy of four years, a great friend of mine that I hardly get to see but when I do it is like long-lost brothers, he's the commanding officer of the USS Bonhomme Richard, so I am flying up a ship patch for them," said the shuttle commander.

Atlantis' pilot, Barry "Butch" Wilmore was similarly inspired to take mementos from his alma mater. Completing both his undergraduate and Master's degrees from Tennessee Technical University in Cookeville, Wilmore made sure the school was well represented in the STS-129 OFK.

In addition to a gold medallion for the school's College of Education and a purple-and-gold placard for the Electrical Engineering college, Wilmore packed a thumb flash drive and a plush eagle mascot for the university.

Wilmore's eagle is joined in the OFK by a stuffed-toy blue spider from University of Richmond alumnus and mission specialist Leland Melvin.

Melvin also stowed several pins and the front page of local newspapers for the Commonwealth of Virginia capital city. An amateur songwriter in his own right, Melvin also flew a family ancestry chart for musician Quincy Jones, a friend who provided a "wake-up call" song during Melvin's earlier shuttle flight.

Bobby Satcher, one of this mission's three spacewalkers, also became the first orthopedic surgeon in space. Though he left the tools of the trade at home -- "We're not taking any joint replacement equipment," he told collectSPACE -- he did represent his profession on Atlantis. In addition to "tweeting" from orbit with the screen name "Astro_Bones," he said he had a banner from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, "so they are definitely represented."

For fellow spacewalker Randy Bresnik, packing items was a family affair. His grandfather, Albert Bresnik, had been Amelia Earhart's personal photographer and so he flew a scarf that had belonged to the famed aviator, as well as a photograph taken of her by his grandfather.

Bresnik also recognized the next generation of his family, his daughter Abigail Mae who was born during the mission hours after he made his first spacewalk. The next day, he showed off a pink onesie decorated with the mission logo, a design he had a hand in creating.

"If you think about it, you are designing something that is part of a legacy," Bresnik said, referring to the long history of space shuttle mission patches. "I think we ended up with a pretty unique patch that people really appreciate for its originality."

More than 600 of the STS-129 patches were stowed in the flight kit for later presentation to NASA employees and the contractors who worked on the mission.

A sporting tradition

It wouldn't be a proper Thanksgiving without the toss of a pigskin, and thanks to Wilmore, a former college football outside linebacker, there's one aboard Atlantis, too.

"There's a Tennessee Tech football that I put forward to fly up," the shuttle pilot told collectSPACE.

Wilmore also took a football jersey from his high school in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. "They sent me my old number '54', that was very nice of them," he said.

Melvin, who was drafted in 1986 by the NFL's Detroit Lions before becoming an astronaut, also packed a jersey from his high school's football team in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Not that football is the only sport represented in the OFK.

Satcher, a long-time fan of the NBA, took along both an All-Star basketball jersey and one for the Boston Celtics.

Mike Foreman, the mission's lead spacewalker, stowed a baseball jersey, continuing a trend he started on his first spaceflight in 2008.

"I have the Houston Astros' Roy O's jersey this time," said Foreman, who on STS-123 flew a shirt for Astros' first baseman Lance Berkman. "When I went to the Astros' game to present the [flown] jersey to Lance, they allowed us to watch batting practice and Roy Oswalt was [there] and we started talking."

"I told him if I got to go into space again, I would take his jersey next time," Foreman told collectSPACE.

Rounding out the sporting goods onboard Atlantis, there's also a cycling jersey from Lance Armstrong's LiveStrong Foundation. While flying on the shuttle, it has traveled the same distance every seven minutes that Armstrong and the other cyclists took three weeks to ride during the Tour de France.


STS-129 crewmembers share a meal while aboard the International Space Station. The scene on Thanksgiving will be similar. (NASA)

Randy Bresnik's pink baby onesie and the mission patch that he helped design for the STS-129 crew. (NASA TV/collectSPACE)

Butch Wilmore, Nicole Stott and Leland Melvin participate in an educational event with Tennessee Tech. (NASA TV)

The STS-129 Official Flight Kit Manifest

The following is the STS-129 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-129 crew patches

  2. 75 Expedition 22 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. 6 JSC Medallions

  5. 1 Bronze NASA Seal Medallion

  6. 1 Silver Shuttle Pendant


Agency Presentation



10 Small Flags of the Following States:

  1. Ohio

  2. California

  3. Tennessee

  4. South Carolina

  5. Virginia

  6. Massachusetts

  7. Illinois


Agency Presentation



3 Small Flags of the Following Countries:

  1. Ukraine

  2. Scotland

  3. Slovenia

  4. Qatar


Agency Presentation



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



  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



120 Silver Snoopy Pins


Space Flight Awareness Presentation




25 EVA Patches


Agency Presentation



  1. 10 STS-129 Crew Patches

  2. 10 Small U.S. flags

  3. 10 DoD Space Test Program Patches

  4. 10 Space Development & Test Wing Coins

  5. 10 Crystal Park, CO, VFD Shoulder Patches


DoD Presentation



  1. 32 Miscellaneous Program/Project/Directorate Patches

  2. 25 ALTAIR Patches


Constellation Program Office Presentation



25 COD Patches


Center Operations Directorate Presentation




25 Mission Operations Patches


Mission Operation Directorate Presentation




1 Small Computer Disc


Agency Presentation




100 Small Metal Shuttle Tokens


Agency Presentation


Items 20 through 84 are manifested at the request of the STS-129 crewmembers.




Copper Medal on Lanyard


Arnold Fitness Expo, Columbus, OH




Black and Gold Jersey


LiveStrong Foundation, Austin, TX




Yellow T-Shirt


Houston Lynx, Houston, TX




Black T-Shirt


Victory Lakes Intermediate School, League City, TX




Green School Banner


Baylor University, Waco, TX




Grey "CC" Letter


Clear Creek High School, League City, TX




Blue and Yellow Patch


Clear Lake Shores Police Department, TX




Blue, Gold and White Patch


USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), FPO AP 96617-1656




Logo Patch on Black Fabric


British Petroleum, Houston, TX




Silver Plaque


Sullivan Measurement & Technologies, Houston, TX




Company Personnel Photograph


Ambassador Advertising Company, Irvine, CA




Thumb Drive


Tennessee Technical University, Cookeville, TN




Purple and Gold Placard


Tennessee Technical University College of Electrical Engineering, Cookeville, TN




Eagle Stuffed Toy


Tennessee Technical University Athletic Dept., Cookeville, TN




Gold Medallion


Tennessee Technical University College of Education, Cookeville, TN




Rustic Gold-Plated Cross


Providence Baptist Church, Deer Park, TX




Red, Gold and Blue Patch


Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA




Page of Signatures


2009 Virginia House of Delegates, Richmond, VA




Swim Cap


Premier Management Group, Cary, NC




Blue and Gold Medallion


Office of the Governor of California, Sacramento, CA




Football Jersey


Heritage High School, Lynchburg, VA




Black and Gold Pennant


Centre College, Danville, KY




White T-Shirt


Billionaire Boys Club, New York, NY




Gold and Black Pin


City of Richmond, Richmond, VA




Gold Pin


Richmond Chamber of Commerce, Richmond, VA




Newspaper Front Page


Richmond Free Press, Richmond, VA




Newspaper Front Page


Richmond Times Dispatch, Richmond, VA




Family Ancestry Chart


Quincy Jones Productions, Los Angeles, CA




Blue Spider Stuffed Toy


University of Richmond Chemistry Dept., Richmond, VA




Book Cover


Virginia State Library, Richmond, VA




Maroon and White Banner


Harvard-MIT Health, Sciences & Technology, Cambridge, MA




Red Flag


The Citadel, Charleston, SC




Quilted Banner


Jerusalem International YMCA, Jerusalem, Israel




Small White Flag


U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, MD




Black and Yellow Patch


Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Lancaster, CA




Commemorative Medallion


Marine Corps Heritage Society, Dumfries, VA




White, Green and Red Scarf


99s Museum of Women Pilots, Oklahoma City, OK




Black and White Photo


Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum, Atchison, KS




Historical Sands in Plastic Bottle


Headquarters Marine Corps, Arlington, VA




Medal on Lanyard


Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica, CA




Black and Red Patch


Rittman Police Department, Rittman, OH




Blue and Yellow Patch


Wadsworth Police Department, Wadsworth, OH




Red and Yellow Patch


Wadsworth Fire Department, Wadsworth, OH




Blue and White Pennant


Detroit Yacht Club, Detroit, MI




Black and Gold Medallion


New Bern High School, New Bern, SC




Red, White and Blue Texas Pin


Houston Expo 2020 Committee, Houston, TX




Maroon T-Shirt


Blattman Elementary, San Antonio, TX




Small Black Banner


The Fitness Center, League City, TX




Yellow Banner


U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Assoc., Annapolis, MD




Blue and White Banner


University of Connecticut, Farmington, CT




White Basketball Jersey


Boston Celtics, Boston, MA




Tan T-Shirt


Minority Medical Faculty Development Program, Boston, MA






City of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA




Book Cover


MD Anderson, Houston, TX




Copy of Charter


MIT, Cambridge, MA




Purple and White Pennant


Northwestern University, Evanston, IL




Blue and Yellow School Flag


Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA




White, Gray and Yellow School Banner


University of Maryland, College Park, MD




White State of Illinois Flag


Office of the Governor of Illinois, Chicago, IL




Black and White Flag


City of Chicago, IL




Military Wings


Agency Presentation




Gold Astronaut Pin


Agency Presentation




Military Wings


Agency Presentation




Gold Astronaut Pin


Agency Presentation




Gold Astronaut Pin


Agency Presentation


Items 85 through 106 are manifested at the request of the Space Shuttle Program Office and Payload Customers.




300 Sheets of Bookmarks


Space Shuttle Program (SSP) Presentation




150 ULF3 Mission Patches


International Space Station (ISS) Presentation




10 ULF3 Mission Pins


ISS Presentation




100 ESA AIS Patches


ISS Presentation




40 ESA AIS Decals


ISS Presentation




30 ESA AIS Decals


ISS Presentation




3 Amateur Radio Society Buttons


ISS Presentation




100 MISSE Decals


ISS Presentation




20 NASA/Lada-VPU Patches


ISS Presentation




9 NASA Patches


ISS Presentation




36 NASA Decals


ISS Presentation




50 Small (4"x6") United States Flags


ISS Presentation




2 CSA/APEX-Cambium Looping Tool Devices


ISS Presentation




4 UNB Patches


ISS Presentation




4 Small Packages of Seeds


ISS Presentation




50 Each CSA/APEX Decals/Patches/Pins


ISS Presentation




50 CUCU Decals


ISS Presentation




40 Vehicle Patches


ISS Presentation




50 ISS S&MA Patches


ISS Presentation




50 COTS Decals


ISS Presentation




7 Shuttle (Stacked) Pins


SSP Presentation




  1. 3 Small (4"x6") CSA Flags

  2. 21 University of Waterloo Patches

  3. 10 CSA Patches

  4. 25 CSA Decals

  5. 1 CSA Pin


SSP Presentation



Small Medallion and Shoulder Patch


Agency Presentation






Agency Presentation

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