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Linda Singleton
Johnson Space Center, Houston

RELEASE : J05-035
Discovery Crew to Throw First Pitch at Astros' NASA Night
The astronauts who returned the Space Shuttle to flight aboard Discovery will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Houston Astros' game Sept. 13.

Opening ceremonies for the 7:05 p.m. CDT game against the Florida Marlins will include a video highlighting the relationship shared by NASA and the Houston Astros. NASA Johnson Space Center Director Jefferson D. Howell Jr. will join the seven Discovery astronauts on the field.

Howell will present Astros owner Drayton McLane with NASA’s Public Service Medal during pre-game ceremonies. The NASA Public Service Medal is the highest honor presented by NASA to a non-civil servant. It is presented in recognition of exceptional contributions to the mission of NASA.

In addition to presenting the medal, NASA will return Houston Astros memorabilia flown on Discovery's recent mission. The items, a baseball, cap and jersey, were presented to NASA during the Astros' 2003 Opening Day ceremony honoring the astronauts who lost their lives in the Columbia accident.

Throughout the 2003 season, the Astros paid tribute to the Columbia crew by wearing the STS-107 patch on their jerseys. Several astronauts were recognized in their hometowns and threw out ceremonial first pitches in remembrance of the Columbia crew. Astronauts threw out the first pitch at Astros' games in New York, Boston, Phoenix, Chicago, St. Louis and Pittsburgh.

The Astros club has been tied to NASA since the Colt .45s changed their name to Astros in 1965 and moved to the Astrodome. NASA and the Astros have participated together in community events and host NASA Nights each year. Past nights included ceremonial first pitches by Astronaut Dan Bursch as a tribute to the International Space Station in 2002; Astronaut David Leestma in a pre-game celebration of space exploration and NASA Explorer Schools in 2004; and, in 2005, by the astronauts who will fly the next Shuttle mission, STS-121.


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