NASA Podcasts

Mascots Among Shuttle Mementoes
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Mascots aren't just for sports teams anymore. The crew of space shuttle Discovery will head into orbit with a couple of stuffed furry creatures watching over them.

I'm George Diller and this is What's Going Up on STS-119.

A black and white checkered bear from the Victory Junction Gang Camp of Randleman, North Carolina is making the trip tucked inside Discovery's lockers.

The bear will not be alone. Also riding Discovery aloft will be a purple stuffed duck from Saitama, Japan.

Organizations that don't have mascots going up are also heavily represented on the flight. Flags and T-shirts from schools such as Florida's Melbourne High and Brookwood Elementary in Alabama, are making their presence known in space.

Astronauts choose many of the items that go into space largely because of personal connections. First-time flier Joe Acaba, for example, taught at Dunnellon Middle in Marion County Florida and included a postcard of students among the items that will accompany him on the mission.

Sometimes, the selection highlights a cause an astronaut is involved in. Steve Swanson, a mission specialist, requested eight chocolate bars from a company that gives part of its profits to conservation groups. Unlike the other objects that will largely remain inside individual lockers, the chocolate bars made by “Endangered Species Chocolate” will be dessert for the crews of the shuttle and International Space Station.

At least one item will gain a major audience on Earth after it returns from space.

Astronaut Tony Antonelli arranged to fly a green flag from the Andretti Green Flag Racing team. When STS-119 wraps up, Antonelli is expected to be an official starter at an IndyCar race.

That is some of what's going up on Discovery during STS-119. I'm George Diller.

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