What do a colonial shipping tag, a sci-fi series on DVD, a couple of referee's whistles and a board game's playing pieces have in common? They are all part of the cargo aboard space shuttle Atlantis, now docked at the International Space Station.
Launched on June 8 along with the heaviest payload that is destined for the ISS, the 17.5 ton S3/S4 truss segment now installed on the right side of the station, Atlantis and the STS-117 crew also have with them about 1000 pounds of equipment and supplies, including small mementos and personal items for themselves, their families, the crew on the space station and for organizations that have exhibited support for them and for NASA.
The items, stowed in either their personal preference kits (PPKs) or in the STS-117 Official Flight Kit (OFK) are for the most part to make the round trip with Atlantis and will be presented to their owners post-flight. Some however, will be transferred onto the ISS along with 117's seventh crew member Clay Anderson, who serves as flight engineer for the station's fifteenth expedition. Anderson is replacing Suni Williams, who is scheduled to return with Atlantis on June 21, having set the women's world record for longest mission duration of more than 188 days, previously set by Shannon Lucid in 1996.
Anderson's stay won't be quite as long, he's scheduled to come back to Earth with the STS-120 crew in October but until then, he's packed a few items to remind him of home.
"I'll have photos of my kids and wife, there will be some Nebraska and Iowa State and some Hastings College paraphernalia floating around, which are the places that are near and dear to my heart," Anderson shared during a pre-flight interview with collectSPACE.
"I have some baseball caps and a referee shirt or two. I was a big college basketball referee I say 'big', I was big into it," continued Anderson, who also packed for his trip a couple of NBA-regulation referee whistles. Fox 40, which produces the whistles, was reported to have given Anderson four mini-whistles to fly. At least one of those, per the OFK manifest (reprinted below) will be returned to the company when Anderson is back on the ground.
STS-117 mission specialist Steve Swanson also brought something for Anderson and his ISS crew mates to enjoy during their off-hours. As reported by the fan created site breakingatmo.com, "Browncoat Astronaut" Swanson has with him a complete library of DVDs containing the Joss Whedon television series Firefly and its theatrical spinoff Serenity. The discs will be added to the station's growing collection of movies and multimedia.
As for items for himself, Swanson hasn't brought much. "Besides taking my wedding ring and a picture of the family-type stuff, that's probably it that I am taking up for me," Swanson told collectSPACE.
Patrick Forrester, who with Swanson will make the flight's second and newly-added fourth spacewalks, has items for each of his sons and wife, as well as "some things for the military units that I have been involved with and some of the church organizations that I have been affiliated with," he said.
Forrester is also credited with creating an item that each of his crew mates has with them, and for which more than 650 are stowed on-board.
"[Our patch] was done by Pat Forrester," explained Rick "CJ" Sturckow, STS-117 mission commander, during an interview with collectSPACE. The insignia, which went through several name revisions as crew members were added and removed, shows the ISS above the Earth with the components to be added by STS-117 colored in gold.
"He sketched that out right after we were assigned, before we even moved into an office together. He brought it over and showed it to me and said, 'Hey, what do you think of this?' and I go, 'Boy, that looks good to me!' and he's like, 'Would you recommend any changes to it?' and I was like, 'Nope, that looks really good," and he showed it to the rest of the crew. We got that patch done in record time and I figure he got a lot of compliments on it. Pat did a good job with that," said Sturckow.
Pilot Lee "BRU" Archambault, whose seat is to the right of Sturckow's on Atlantis' flight deck, chose "small items for my kids and some relatives, and I am also bringing some banners for the hometown I grew up in and the high school I went to, a college banner from the University of Illinois, as well as a couple of Air Force organizations," he said in a pre-flight interview.
Like Archambault, James "JR" Reilly also selected to fly a banner with symbolic ties to his past.
"I have a flag from the country of Ireland, which is where my grandparents on my dad's side came from that was given to me prior to [my last flight on] STS-104, so it flew on that flight and it will fly on this flight as well," described Reilly. "I hope to take that back to the little village that is down in southwestern Ireland where my family came from.
"We of course have other items that we carry. I am taking up a banner for the Scottish Space School. Their charter is to foster studies in math, science and engineering with students there in Scotland and I've worked with those guys for a couple of years now and really like what they do so we're carrying a pennant up for them and bringing that back," he told collectSPACE.
Reilly's spacewalking partner Danny Olivas also has flags aboard for "universities that I have attended, schools that I have attended," but it was his choice of mementos for his five children that he hopes gains a special importance by having been flown in space.
"I have a St. Christopher's medallion that I have had with me for years, I got it as an infant. And I am going to take up a handful of St. Christopher medals for my kids, each one different and hopefully when I come back it will have an extra special meaning for them," Olivas revealed during an interview with collectSPACE.
Though not directly connected to any of the crew members another medal on-board Atlantis has special meaning as a result of its history to the nation from where they all hail.
A nearly 400-year-old metal cargo tag bearing the words "Yames Towne" and some commemorative medallions are packed with the OFK inside Atlantis' middeck floor space for the roundtrip flight to the International Space Station. Their flight is in honor of this year's 400th anniversary of Jamestown, Va., the first permanent English settlement in North America.
Stowed nearby are metal tokens of a different type, which also celebrate American history in the form of one of its popular pastimes. Hasbro, Inc., makers of the board game Monopoly announced last week that playing pieces from the "Here & Now" Edition are along for the flight. Two sets of miniature icons, including a Toyota Prius, New Balance Shoe, Labradoodle, Motorola cell phone, and McDonald's French Fries, are on Atlantis. The "Here & Now" edition of Monopoly includes a property square for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
- SPACE.com Video Interplayer: Space Station Power Up with STS-117
- STS-117 Power Play: Atlantis Shuttle Crew to Deliver ISS Solar Wings
- Complete Shuttle Mission Coverage
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