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  STS-132: The first last crew's secret sign off

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Author Topic:   STS-132: The first last crew's secret sign off
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-10-2010 12:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Prior to the STS-132 crew launching, in response to a question that collectSPACE asked about the mission being the final planned flight for space shuttle Atlantis, commander Ken Ham replied:
We figured that question was coming and we've come up with a tag line for you, 'This is the first last flight of Atlantis.'
Now back on Earth, their mission a success, it appears that that same tag line will forever be a part of Atlantis.

Central Florida News 13 reports that an STS-132 mission decal was found during a post-flight inspection of the orbiter accompanied by an inscription, "The first, last flight of Atlantis left Earth on 14 May 2010 from Pad 39A" together with the crew's signatures.

NASA confirms it was found by a United Space Alliance inspector going over the orbiter in standard post flight operations after the shuttle landed.


Credit: United Space Alliance/Central Florida News 13

News 13 spoke to the worker who took the picture, who wants to remain anonymous.

He told News 13 he found it tucked away on the upper side of Locker A-16 while scanning the area with a mirror.

He said the note must have been written on orbit. Otherwise, the astronauts would have had to stand on their heads.

The crew's secret sign-off evokes another spacecraft inscription from 40 years ago. From the Smithsonian Books' After Sputnik:
Following splashdown, while en route to Hawaii on the USS Hornet, Michael Collins crawled back into the command module (it was connected to the mobile quarantine facility by an air-tight tunnel) and wrote a short note on one of the equipment bay panels.


Credit: Smithsonian

"Spacecraft 107 - alias Apollo 11 alias 'Columbia' The Best Ship to Come Down the Line. God Bless Her."

Fezman92
Member

Posts: 1030
From: New Jersey, USA
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 06-10-2010 05:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fezman92   Click Here to Email Fezman92     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very cool. I wonder if the same thing is going to be done to Discovery and Endeavour.

alanh_7
Member

Posts: 889
From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 06-10-2010 06:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Last summer I wrote in to the Ask and Expert program at the National Air and Space Museum regarding this very question and they assured me the inscription was still there on Columbia.

I am glad the crew of Atlantis kept the tradition. Both were great ships with great crews and deserve the attention.

gleopold
Member

Posts: 30
From: Reston, VA, USA
Registered: Jun 2010

posted 06-10-2010 07:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for gleopold   Click Here to Email gleopold     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
More proof that Mike Collins is the most articulate and historical-minded of all the astronauts.

tegwilym
Member

Posts: 2284
From: Renton, WA USA
Registered: Jan 2000

posted 06-11-2010 05:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Where is that locker located? I'm guessing they wrote that on the ceiling of one of the bottom lockers. I'm sure someone here would have an idea and probably a drawing where it's located!

alanh_7
Member

Posts: 889
From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 06-11-2010 08:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Below is a copy of the e-mail I received last summer when I asked about the Mike Collins' inscription after reading about it in his book "Carrying the Fire."
Yes, the Michael Collins inscription has been preserved in the lower equipment bay of the Apollo 11 Command Module "Columbia," as he signed it.

-- Roger Launius, Senior Curator, Space History Division, National Air and Space Museum

All times are CT (US)

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