Feature

Model Car, Airplane Highlight Discovery Crew
08.26.09
 
The STS-128 patch Mission patches are always popular items to fly on a shuttle. This one is particularly valuable because it is part of the flight suit that Jose Hernandez will wear during launch and landing. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

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The real space shuttle will carry a model of itself into space during the STS-128 mission. It is just one part of the cargo manifest assembled by the seven astronauts of Discovery to help mark their personal achievements and community ties.

The model shuttle is 7 inches long and represents the Montpelier Elementary School of Montpelier, Ind., the hometown of Discovery Pilot Kevin Ford, who is making his first flight. The shuttle model has plenty of company, including an Indiana flag and a red model car from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500.

There’s also a green ceramic airplane representing Notre Dame's Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, and a 6 1/2-inch metal airplane piece from the Mission Aviation Fellowship of Nampa, Idaho. .

Discovery’s lockers also will take an assortment of medallions on its flight to the International Space Station. The crew members have included commemoratives from various organizations, including the U.S. Army's 3rd Aviation Regiment and 3rd Infantry Division, the 16th Congressional District and the Houston Astros. A replica of the Nobel Peace Prize also is making the trip into space.

Astronauts are allowed to take small items into space with them to celebrate their achievements and connections. Some of the items remain in personal collections after they return to Earth, while many find public homes around the world as mementos of exploration and inspiration.

Veteran astronaut Patrick Forrester’s class of 1979 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point is highlighted in the commemoratives by a gold medallion.

First-time flier Jose Hernandez’ hometown of Stockton, Calif., has a small place in Discovery in the form of a lapel pin.

One of the flags aboard Discovery comes from the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference, which named veteran astronaut Danny Olivas its most promising engineer.

Sweden’s Christer Fuglesang has included numerous items from his native country, including a wooden chess piece.

There also are scores of items that NASA and other organizations included in the shuttle lockers. Like the items carried by the astronauts, the agency items will be prized upon their return.

 
 
Steven Siceloff
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center