STS-131 -- Mission Patch Explorer Game
Read below to learn about the STS-131 mission patch.
Astronaut Office Symbol and Earth
When astronauts are first selected, they are given a pin of the Astronaut Office symbol. The symbol is a star with three rays and an orbit around the rays. Astronauts wear a silver symbol until they make their first flight. Then they are given a gold Astronaut Office pin. The Astronaut Office symbol is blended into the STS-131 mission patch. The star is used as the sun spreading its light across Earth.
Space Shuttle, 131, 19A
The space shuttle Discovery carries the STS-131 crew to the International Space Station. This is the 131st space shuttle flight. It is the 33rd flight to the space station. The shuttle carries the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module in the cargo bay. This module is named Leonardo. The module is pressurized, which means the crew can work in it. Leonardo carries science racks for experiments in microgravity.
Commander Alan Poindexter leads the 13-day space shuttle mission to the International Space Station. Poindexter will manage the mission. He will also control the shuttle as it docks to the station. He and his crew are taking science experiments to the station. These experiments are studying mice in space, how plants grow in different light and gravity, and the ways Earth is changing.
James Dutton is the pilot for STS-131. This is his first space shuttle mission. He will assist the commander and sit next to him on the shuttle's flight deck. When the shuttle undocks from the station, Dutton will fly the shuttle around the space station. He will operate the shuttle and station robotic arms and help the spacewalkers put on their spacesuits.
Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger is a mission specialist for the STS-131 space shuttle mission. This is her first mission. Before she was an astronaut, Dottie was a science teacher in Washington state. On this mission, one of her tasks is to operate the space shuttle robotic arm. She will help inspect the shuttle for damage when it reaches space. She also will ensure the spacewalkers do each of their tasks on time.
Mission Specialist Clayton Anderson is visiting his former home, the International Space Station. He spent five months there in 2007. On the day the shuttle docks to the station, he will watch the shuttle computers to be sure everything is going correctly. On this mission, he will perform three spacewalks with astronaut Mastracchio.
Rick Mastracchio is a mission specialist. He flew on STS-106 and on STS-118. On this mission, he will perform three spacewalks. During the spacewalks, Mastracchio and astronaut Clayton Anderson have several tasks. One is to replace a 1,800-pound ammonia tank system that keeps the station cool. They will also replace a gyroscope. Gyros help the station stay in the correct position in space.
The STS-131 flight is Mission Specialist Stephanie Wilson's third shuttle mission and third trip on Discovery. She has spent more than 28 days in space. On docking day, Wilson will use a handheld laser to check the distance of the shuttle to the station as they move closer. Wilson also will set up the shuttle's computer network and manage the work of the shuttle and station robotic arms.
Naoko Yamazaki is an astronaut from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA. STS-131 is her first space shuttle mission. She is the "Load Master." She will oversee the transfer of 13,000 pounds of cargo from Leonardo to the station. The shuttle crew will return 5,000 pounds to Earth. The return cargo includes the SpaceSeed experiment. It has been on the Japanese Kibo module. JAXA wants to learn how crops would grow in space.
The International Space Station
The International Space Station is a large orbiting laboratory. Space agencies from the United States, Canada, Russia, Europe and Japan work in the laboratory. Construction began on the space station in 1998. It is scheduled to be completed in 2010. NASA plans to continue to use the station until 2020. NASA and its partners will continue research, such as how to make better medicines, to improve life on Earth.
The seven stars represent the seven crew members of the STS-131 mission. This is the last shuttle mission to have seven astronauts. The remainder of the space shuttle missions will have only six crew members each. The STS-131 mission also carries the last crew to include astronauts who have never flown before. After STS-131, only three more space shuttle missions remain. Then the space shuttle will be retired.
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