Giving Thanks For a Safe Return from Thanksgiving in Space
By: Denise Lineberry

Each year, Silver Snoopy awardees are recognized for their contributions to flight safety and mission success. These are contributions that astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper can truly appreciate after 27 days in space, and 33 hours, 42 minutes of five space walks in two missions.

Astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper speaking at the Silver Snoopy Awards Ceremony.

Astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper visited NASA Langley to present the annual Silver Snoopy awards. Credit: NASA/George Homich

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She was at the Pearl Young Theatre to present the awards to six NASA Langley employees: Charles Antill, Keith Bird, Wayne Geouge, Tom Hall, Ken Jones and Mike Squire.

Stefanyshyn-Piper also shared some of her most recent space flight experiences on STS-126. "Pictures say more than I can," she explained. She shared a photograph taken after the launch on Nov. 14, 2008, of the full moon that night. She also showed video footage of the launch taken by cameras mounted on the solid rocket boosters of the shuttle.

"It is always neat when you get into orbit and out of your seat and you can begin floating around," she said. "But it is time to work and not time to play." In delivering a bathroom, kitchenette, two bedrooms, an exercise machine and a water recycling system to the International Space Station, Stefanyshyn-Piper shared some playful moments the crew had, such as learning to juggle in zero gravity and doing science experiments with a drop of water and Alka-seltzer. "This is why we don't drink diet soda," she said.

Also for fun, she just looked out of the windows. "You realize geography is a lot harder without the lines on a map," Stefanyshyn-Piper said.

2009 Silver Snoopy Awardees with Astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper.

Astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper with the six NASA Langley Silver Snoopy awardees. Credit: NASA/George Homich

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The International Space Station orbits the Earth every 90 minutes. "We see the sunrise every 90 minutes, and then the sun goes away and it is night time. We are outside for six hours, so we just keep working day in and day out," she said, pun intended.

During the mission, Stefanyshyn-Piper performed three spacewalks. STS-126 also delivered a new resident to the station, replacing Greg Chamitoff with Sandy Magnus.

Stefanyshyn-Piper and the STS-126 crew had Thanksgiving dinner onboard the shuttle. And 16 days after the launch, with another safe return to Earth after completing 250 orbits in over six million miles, she had plenty to be thankful for.

The 2009 Silver Snoopy Awards were presented to employees for the following contributions:

Charles Antill -- For support of the EVA infrared camera project, in recognition of exemplary expertise in the area of remote sensing systems exhibited during the development of a handheld camera system to be used by astronauts to inspect surface and sub-surface damage of the orbiter.

Keith Bird -- For technical contributions to the development and delivery of the Shuttle RCC Leading Edge Large Area Repair components.

Ken Jones -- For contributions as the NASA Langley Aerothermodynamic Branch Level 4 interface to the Space Shuttle Program Orbiter Project Office.

Mike Squire -- For support as a key member of the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) Shuttle Reinforced Carbon-Carbon (RCC) Coating Liberation Assessment Team and the shuttle program's follow-on Silicon Carbide (SiC) Liberation Tiger Team.

Wayne Geouge -- For fabrication and instrumentation support of shuttle thermal protection system research.

Tom Hall -- For excellence toward research model instrumentation supporting the shuttle thermal protection system.

NASA Langley Research Center
Managing Editor: Jim Hodges
Executive Editor and Responsible NASA Official: H. Keith Henry
Editor and Curator: Denise Lineberry