NASA Missions and the American Flag (Photos)

History Made


Retrieved after splashdown, SpaceX's Dragon capsule rests on a barge in the Pacific Ocean following the first resupply mission to the ISS by a commercial company. The U.S. flag flies proudly in the background.

Important Moments


On July 20, 1969, during the first lunar landing mission, astronaut and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. (known as Buzz Aldrin) poses for a photo by the deployed U.S. flag.

For the Heroes


As a memorial to victims of September 11, 2001, a piece of aluminum from the World Trade Center towers was incorporated into NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit as a cable guard for the rock abrasion tool. The piece is embellished with an American flag.

Honoring Sacrifices


To honor heroes, victims and families of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center towers, 6,000 small U.S. flags, including one recovered from the debris of the World Trade Center, a Marine Corps flag retrieved from the Pentagon and an American flag from the State of Pennsylvania as well as a large New York Fire Department flag, 23 replica New York Police Department shields and 91 New York Police Department patches flew on the Space Shuttle Endeavor with astronauts Mark E. Kelly (left), STS-108 pilot, and Daniel M. Tani, mission specialist.

A Welcome Sign


The flag seen here flew on the first space shuttle mission, STS-1, and flew again on STS-135 to be given to the Expedition 28 space station crew.

Stepping Out


Astronaut John Glenn's trip to orbit on February 20, 1962, in the Friendship 7 spacecraft adorned with the United States flag, marked the first time an American orbited the Earth. Here Glenn enters the Friendship 7 with help from technicians.

Showing Respect


With a salute to the flag at the Descartes landing site, astronaut Charles M. Duke. poses for a picture during the Apollo 16 lunar landing mission.

A Touching Moment


On December 12, 1972, Harrison J. "Jack" Schmitt captured this photo of Apollo 17 Commander Eugene A. Cernan holding the corner of the American flag while on the first EVA of the mission.

Momentous Occasions


Astronaut and Mission Commander Alan B. Shepard, Jr., captured this image of Lunar Module Pilot Edgar D. Mitchel near the U.S. flag in the early moments of the first Apollo 14 spacewalk.

Sharing the Vision


The Phoenix Mars Lander carried an American flag and a mini-DVD from the Planetary Society to the Red Planet.

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Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.