Just a week before the first crew took up residency on the International Space Station 20 years ago, NASA's 100th space shuttle mission landed back on Earth. To celebrate that milestone, the space agency's employee morale organization distributed a special Snoopy doll, clad in a spacesuit, that recognized the "Peanuts pooch ... as a symbol of excellence for the human space flight program."
Two decades later, the comic strip beagle is back at work at NASA, promoting crew safety on a new series of posters that commemorate 20 years of humans on the space station.
"The Snoopy character continues to support [the] themes of safety and mission success for the SFA program," Alotta Taylor, manager of NASA's Space Flight Awareness (SFA) program, said for an article about the new posters in Johnson Space Center's (JSC) employee newsletter.
The four SFA posters feature illustrations of Snoopy at the International Space Station (ISS), each with a different message for employees. On one, for example, Snoopy is depicted floating inside the Cupola as the Earth below fills the view through the module's many windows. Underneath the scene is written, "Happiness is: Keeping our crews safe — from launch to landing."
Another of the posters shows Snoopy inside the orbital laboratory, with a view looking down the length of the station. The message to workers reads, "One team, one mission: Leading discovery, improving life on Earth."
A third design has the Charles Schulz character set against a simplified backdrop with the words, "For the benefit of all."
Lastly, the fourth poster features a spacesuited Snoopy performing a spacewalk outside of the ISS and reads, "Mission success is in your hands."
"We looked at our basic message pillars for the ISS and pulled from that," said Dylan Mathis, a communications manager for the space station program. "The main pillar I'm referring to is Benefits to Humanity (Space Laboratory). The others are really a throwback to the shuttle era of safety and teamwork."
All four posters include the Space Flight Awareness logo and the commemorative insignia designed for 20 years on the International Space Station.
The station's first crew, called Expedition 1, launched on Oct. 31, 2000, and began living on the ISS two days later. NASA astronaut Bill Shepherd and cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko of Russia's space agency Roscosmos spent 141 days in orbit before handing off the space station to its next crew. Since then, 241 people have served on 64 expedition crews as residents aboard the complex.
Snoopy has served as a mascot at NASA since 1968. During the Apollo, Skylab and space shuttle programs, similar posters were displayed at NASA facilities across the U.S. to remind employees that the astronauts' lives were their collective responsibility. The Silver Snoopy Award was created to recognize team members who made exceptional contributions to flight safety and mission success.
In 2018, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang gained an additional role at NASA, helping to promote NASA's deep space exploration missions and its on-going efforts to engage students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities. The new partnership led to the characters highlighting NASA's programs in the form of a McDonald's Happy Meal, a giant balloon in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and in a new animated series, "Snoopy in Space," on the Apple TV+ streaming service.
Concurrently, Snoopy continues to be a symbol for safety at NASA's centers, as demonstrated by the ISS posters. The products that NASA develops in partnership with Peanuts are generally confined to in-person releases to make sure they reach the NASA workforce.
The "ISS 20 Years" Snoopy posters (and smaller size lithographs) were given out to Johnson employees and alumni on Thursday (Oct. 29), through a drive-through distribution at the Houston center.
"Virtually or in person, the team hopes that this series will remind the workforce of the wonders of space and the human achievement of 20 years on the International Space Station," the Space Flight Awareness program said.
Click through to collectSPACE to see all four Space Flight Awareness Snoopy posters.
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