Jump to content

Lagniappe for February 2024


NASA

Recommended Posts

  • Publishers
5 Min Read

Lagniappe for February 2024

This view of NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was generated using data collected by the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard the agency's Perseverance Mars rover on Aug. 2, 2023.
Explore the February 2024 issue, highlighted by NASA reaching the halfway point for the Artemis Moon Rocket Engine Certification Series, NASA’s Day of Remembrance, and what fuels a NASA Stennis Test Operations Leader.

Explore the February 2024 edition featuring:

  • RS-25 Test on Jan. 27
  • Day of Remembrance
  • NASA Spinoff

Gator Speaks

Gator, a cartoon drawing of an alligator wearing a red shirt and blue pants, sits with crossed-legs staring into space.
Gator Speaks
NASA Stennis

There are two reasons why the last Thursday in January and the month of February are important at NASA moving ahead as the Artemis Generation.

Having been around for decades as the NASA Stennis mascot, it is easy to forget important things if you are not intentional about remembering. For newer folks, whether new employees at NASA Stennis or new fans of NASA in general, it is easy not to know something if you are never told about it.

NASA intentionally carves out time each January for a Day of Remembrance to honor members of the NASA family who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery, including the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia.

This current moment in space history is a tribute to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. One of the best ways NASA honors the sacrifice made by the previous crew members is by embracing safety as one of the core values at NASA.

This is the cornerstone for mission success as NASA prepares to send the first Artemis astronauts to the Moon. The four astronauts will venture around the Moon on Artemis II as part of NASA’s path to creating a long-term presence on the lunar surface for science and exploration.

The NASA safety culture benefits astronauts, employees, and even surrounding communities where employees participate in daily life. This is a reminder every day at NASA, and especially on the final Thursday in January.

Going forward, the annual Day of Remembrance leads into Black History Month (observed each February), which brings the opportunity to recognize Black Americans who have made contributions to America and NASA’s space program. 

One such person is the late NASA astronaut Ronald McNair, who was honored during the Day of Remembrance. McNair, the second Black astronaut to fly to space, was a member of the Challenger crew. He is one of many African Americans whose contributions helped pave the way for NASA to take giant leaps in space exploration for the Artemis Generation.

May we never forget that it is through the sacrifice and contributions of all that NASA explores for the benefit of all. May we never fail to honor those who have come before us, and may we always remember there is space for everybody – in NASA and all of life.

NASA Stennis Top News

NASA Day of Remembrance Honors Fallen Heroes

A man stands behind a lectern. A memorial wreath is displayed next to him.
NASA’s Stennis Space Center and NASA Shared Services Center leaders commemorate NASA Day of Remembrance on Jan. 25 with a ceremony at the south Mississippi site. Rodney McKellip, NASA Stennis associate director (right), and Ken Newton, NASA Shared Services Center acting executive director, observe a moment of silence as employees honor members of the NASA family who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery, including the crews of Apollo 1, and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia.
NASA/Danny Nowlin

NASA Marks Halfway Point for Artemis Moon Rocket Engine Certification Series

NASA completed the sixth of 12 scheduled RS-25 engine certification tests in a critical series for future flights of the agency’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket as engineers conducted a full-duration hot fire Jan. 27 at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

NASA Continues Artemis Moon Rocket Engine Tests with 1st Hot Fire of 2024

NASA continued a critical test series for future flights of NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket in support of the Artemis campaign on Jan. 17 with a full-duration hot fire of the RS-25 engine on the Fred Haise Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

NASA Spinoffs Feature NASA Stennis Developed Technologies

As NASA innovates for the benefit of all, what the agency develops for exploration has the potential to evolve into other technologies with broader use here on Earth. Many of those examples are highlighted in NASA’s annual Spinoff book including dozens of NASA-enabled medical innovations, as well other advancements in 3D printing, robots, and brake designs.

Center Activities

Leadership Class Visits NASA Stennis

The Pearl River County Leadership Class stands in front of the Thad Cochran Test Stand
The Pearl River County Leadership Class stands in front of the Thad Cochran Test Stand during a NASA Stennis site tour on Jan. 18. The group learned about the RS-25 engine certification test series underway for future flights of NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket and preparations for Green Run testing at the Thad Cochran Test Stand (B-2) for NASA’s Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) in support of the Artemis program. EUS is expected to fly on the Artemis IV mission. Prior to that time, it will undergo a series of integrated systems tests to demonstrate it is ready to fly. Through Artemis, NASA will send the first woman and first person of color to the Moon. The agency will use what is learned on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.
NASA Stennis

Employees View RS-25 Engine Test

employees gather at the viewing site to witness
Sitewide employees at NASA’s Stennis Space Center watch the RS-25 test conducted on Jan. 23 as NASA continued a critical test series for future Artemis flights of NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket. The full-duration hot fire on the Fred Haise Test Stand is part of a 12-test series to certify production of new RS-25 engines by lead contractor Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3Harris Technologies company. The new engines will help power SLS rocket on Artemis missions to the Moon and beyond, beginning with Artemis V.
NASA/Danny Nowlin

NASA Joins Students for Space Day Event

elementary students assemble to hear presentation
NASA Visitor Relations Specialist Nick Middleton shares a presentation with Woodley Elementary students on Jan. 26 in Hattiesburg. As part of the Artemis Generation, the more than 100 students from five pre-K and kindergarten classes learned about the Moon and space exploration. Through Artemis, NASA will send the first woman and first person of color to the Moon. As NASA explores the secrets of the universe for the benefit of all, the agency will use what is learned on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap of sending astronauts to Mars.
NASA/Samone Wilson

NASA in the News

Employee Profile

Maury Vander, wearing a navy-colored jacket, smiles at the camera. He is standing in the foreground with the Thad Cochran Test Stand in the background.
Maury Vander stands at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, where he has worked more than 30 years supporting NASA’s mission of space exploration.
NASA/Danny Nowlin

One thing has remained constant throughout Maury Vander’s career with NASA – the satisfaction of being part of a team working to innovate and benefit the agency and the aerospace industry at large.

Looking Back: NASA Stennis Meets Testing Needs

Aerial view of the E-2 Test Facility
In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan unveiled plans for a National Aerospace Plane (NASP). In May 1992, NASA’s Stennis Space Center was selected to initially test new materials for the NASP that would be able to withstand the extreme change in temperature the plane would endure when it flew into Earth’s orbit and then landed in destinations across the globe. In January 1993, foundations for the various tanks needed for the new High Heat Flux Facility at NASA Stennis were poured. Even though the facility was designed to support the NASP project, NASA Stennis leaders and engineers are always thinking towards the future. To that end, they not only equipped the facility to handle testing of NASP components but designed it with the ability to evolve into a versatile test complex able to handle a range of test projects. Thus, even after the NASP program was cancelled, the leadership at NASA Stennis continued to evolve the test facility to meet the needs of the future. What began as the High Heat Flux Facility is now cell 1 on the E-2 Test Stand at the south Mississippi site.
NASA Stennis

Additional Resources

Subscription Info

Lagniappe is published monthly by the Office of Communications at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. The NASA Stennis office may be contacted by at 228-688-3333 (phone); ssc-office-of-communications@mail.nasa.gov (email); or NASA OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS, Attn: LAGNIAPPE, Mail code IA00, Building 1111 Room 173, Stennis Space Center, MS 39529 (mail).

The Lagniappe staff includes: Managing Editor Lacy Thompson, Editor Bo Black, and photographer Danny Nowlin.

To subscribe to the monthly publication, please email the following to ssc-office-of-communications@mail.nasa.gov – name, location (city/state), email address.

View the full article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Topics

    • By NASA
      4 min read
      Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
      High school and collegiate student teams gathered just north of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to participate in the agency’s annual Student Launch competition April 13. Credits: NASA/Charles Beason Over 1,000 students from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico launched high-powered, amateur rockets on April 13, just north of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, as part of the agency’s annual Student Launch competition.
      Teams of middle school, high school, college, and university students were tasked to design, build, and launch a rocket and scientific payload to an altitude between 4,000 and 6,000 feet, while making a successful landing and executing a scientific or engineering payload mission.
      “These bright students rise to a nine-month challenge that tests their skills in engineering, design, and teamwork,” said Kevin McGhaw, director of NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement Southeast Region. “They are the Artemis Generation, the future scientists, engineers, and innovators who will lead us into the future of space exploration.”
      NASA announced the University of Notre Dame is the overall winner of the agency’s 2024 Student Launch challenge, followed by Iowa State University, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. A complete list challenge winners can be found on the agency’s student launch web page.
      Each year NASA implements a new payload challenge to reflect relevant missions. This year’s payload challenge is inspired by the Artemis missions, which seek to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon.
      The complete list of award winners are as follows:
      2024 Overall Winners
      First place: University of Notre Dame, Indiana Second place: Iowa State University, Ames Third place: University of North Carolina at Charlotte 3D Printing Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Tennessee Chattanooga Middle/High School Level:
      First place: First Baptist Church of Manchester, Manchester, Connecticut Altitude Award
      College Level:
      First place: Iowa State University, Ames Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Morris County 4-H, Califon, New Jersey Best-Looking Rocket Award:
      College Level:
      First place: New York University, Brooklyn, New York Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Notre Dame Academy High School, Los Angeles American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Reusable Launch Vehicle Innovative Payload Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Colorado Boulder Second place: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee Third place: Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Judge’s Choice Award:
      Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Cedar Falls High School, Cedar Falls, Iowa Second place: Young Engineers in Action, LaPalma, California Third place: First Baptist Church of Manchester, Manchester, Connecticut Project Review Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Florida, Gainesville AIAA Reusable Launch Vehicle Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Florida, Gainesville Second place: University of North Carolina at Charlotte Third place: University of Notre Dame, Indiana AIAA Rookie Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Colorado Boulder Safety Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Notre Dame, Indiana Second place: University of Florida, Gainesville Third place: University of North Carolina at Charlotte Social Media Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Colorado Boulder Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Newark Memorial High School, Newark, California STEM Engagement Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Notre Dame, Indiana Second place: University of North Carolina at Charlotte Third place: New York University, Brooklyn, New York Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Notre Dame Academy High School, Los Angeles, California Second place: Cedar Falls High School, Cedar Falls, Iowa Third place: Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia Service Academy Award:
      First place: United States Air Force Academy, USAF Academy, Colorado
      Vehicle Design Award:
      Middle/High School Level:
      First place: First Baptist Church of Manchester, Manchester, Connecticut Second place: Explorer Post 1010, Rockville, Maryland Third place: Plantation High School, Plantation, Florida Payload Design Award:
      Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Young Engineers in Action, LaPalma, California Second place: Cedar Falls High School, Cedar Falls, Iowa Third place: Spring Grove Area High School, Spring Grove, Pennsylvania Student Launch is one of NASA’s nine Artemis Student Challenges, activities which connect student ingenuity with NASA’s work returning to the Moon under Artemis in preparation for human exploration of Mars.
      The competition is managed by Marshall’s Office of STEM Engagement (OSTEM). Additional funding and support are provided by NASA’s OSTEM via the Next Gen STEM project, NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate, Northrup Grumman, National Space Club Huntsville, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, National Association of Rocketry, Relativity Space, and Bastion Technologies.
      To watch the full virtual awards ceremony, please visit NASA Marshall’s YouTube channel.
      For more information about Student Launch, visit:
      https://www.nasa.gov/stem/studentlaunch/home/index.html
      For more information about other NASA challenges, please visit:
      https://stem.nasa.gov/artemis/
      Taylor Goodwin
      Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
      256.544.0034 
      taylor.goodwin@nasa.gov
      Share
      Details
      Last Updated Jun 14, 2024 Related Terms
      Marshall Space Flight Center Explore More
      4 min read NASA Announces New System to Aid Disaster Response
      In early May, widespread flooding and landslides occurred in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande…
      Article 1 day ago 4 min read California Teams Win $1.5 Million in NASA’s Break the Ice Lunar Challenge
      Article 1 day ago 25 min read The Marshall Star for June 12, 2024
      Article 2 days ago Keep Exploring Discover Related Topics
      Missions
      Humans in Space
      Climate Change
      Solar System
      View the full article
    • By European Space Agency
      Week in images: 10-14 June 2024
      Discover our week through the lens
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      3 min read
      Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
      NSTGRO Homepage
      Claire Lessler
      University of Chicago
      Precision Spectroscopic Calibration and Next-Generation Millimeter-Wave Spectrometers
      Miron Liu
      University of Michigan
      Development of a Magnetically Shielded Hall Thruster without Pole Erosion
      Ashley Maldonado
      Otero University of Southern California
      Optimizing heterogeneous nanostructured materials for space applications
      Camille McDonnell
      University of Maryland, College Park
      Low-SWaP Nanophotonic Quantum Enhanced Sensors with Highly Squeezed Light
      Daniel Miliate
      University of California, Merced
      Dry Film Lubricants for Heaterless Actuators
      Andrew Morell
      University of Colorado, Boulder
      Rapid Modular Simulation Methods for Capture and Post-Capture Spacecraft Dynamics
      Daniel Morton
      Stanford University
      Combining Optimal and Learning-Based Control Methods for the Manipulation of Spaceborne Objects
      Abhay Negi
      University of Southern California
      Autonomous Fault Detection, Recovery, and Avoidance during Robotic In-Space Assembly
      Devin Nielsen
      Utah State University
      Multi-scale Analysis of Pyrolytic Graphite Sheet Laminates for Space Radiator Applications Using NASMAT
      Jennifer Nolan
      Georgia Institute of Technology
      Application of Neural Radiance Fields for Autonomous Spacecraft Navigation and Planetary Characterization
      Henry Noyes
      Northeastern University
      Autonomous Navigation and Multi-Modal Path Planning in Lunar Craters Using a Modular Snake-like Robot
      Lorin Nugent
      Purdue University
      Spacecraft Rendezvous Techniques for Multi-Body Gravitational Environments
      Jake Olkin
      Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      Long-Duration, Risk-Aware, Goal-Directed Adaptive Sampling for Autonomous Vehicle Exploration
      Nathaniel Osikowicz
      Penn State University
      Tendon-actuated Structural Modules for Enhanced Segmented Aperture Reflectors
      Rebecca Palmer
      Georgia Institute of Technology
      Debris to Infrastructure: Salvage Characterization and Recovered Metals Processing in Lunar Gravity
      Austin Patridge
      University of Texas at San Antonio
      Apollo Regolith Thermally Constrained Landing Pad Bricks (ARTC Bricks)
      Cutler Phillippe
      University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
      Imaging and Analysis Framework for Parachute Micro-structural Basis
      Minyoung Ra
      Purdue University
      Robust Optimal Control of Spacecraft Translational-Rotational Coupled Motion under Uncertainty
      Clayton Ramsey
      William Marsh Rice University
      Low-Power Real-Time Planning for Robots in Uncertain Environments
      Tomaz Remec
      University of Colorado, Boulder
      Experimental Characterization of Magnetohydrodynamic Effects in Planetary Entry Plasmas
      Kate Rhoads
      University of Kentucky
      Investigation of Spallation in Low Permeability TPS Materials
      Anton Samoylov
      University of Arizona
      Multifunctional Nanofiber Reinforcement of Perovskite Solar Cells for Resilience in Space
      Tressa Smalley
      University of California, Davis
      Technology Development of Lemna japonica (Duckweed) for Human Therapeutic Production in Space
      Amanda Smith
      Worcester Polytechnic Institute
      Development of a Novel Process for Refractory Metal Powder Production
      Nicholas Stegmeier
      University of Texas at San Antonio
      Experimental Characterization of Jet Interaction Effects for EDL Vehicle Configurations
      Austin Stover
      University of Chicago
      A Densely Sampled Integral Field Spectrometer to Enable Space-Based Millimeter-Wave Line Intensity Mapping Surveys
      Ashley Tirado
      Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
      Designing Passive Doped-YSZ Ceramic Coatings For Impact and Wear Resistance Against Lunar Dust
      Lydia Ellen Tonani-Penha
      Worcester Polytechnic Institute
      Project Tethys: Extracting Water from the Martian Environment
      Margaret Wang
      Stanford University
      Adaptive World Models for Space Robotics: Implicit Representations Grounded in Semantics and Physics
      Ian Wells
      Washington State University
      Understanding Liquid Hydrogen Critical Heat Flux via Optical Imaging
      Ray Westenberg
      Georgia Institute of Technology
      Engineering Cyanobacteria for Chemical Bioproduction on Mars
      Karol Woloszyn
      New York University
      Functionalization of 3D DNA Nanomaterials and Nanoarchitectures for Space-Based Technology
      Amber Young
      University of California, Berkeley
      Increasing scientific access and technology reliability through multi-modal surface and subsurface legged mobility
      Grace Zoppi
      University of Michigan
      Development of an Electrodeless Magnetoplasmadynamic Thruster
      Facebook logo @NASATechnology @NASA_Technology Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA
      Space Technology Mission Directorate
      Space Technology Research Grants
      NASA Space Technology Graduate Research Opportunities (NSTGRO)
      Technology
      Share
      Details
      Last Updated Jun 13, 2024 EditorLoura Hall Related Terms
      Space Technology Research Grants NASA Space Technology Graduate Research Opportunities (NSTGRO) View the full article
    • By NASA
      The Virginia Tech team, winners of first place overall in the RASC-AL 2024 competition.NASA Out of 14 finalist teams that encompassed collegiate and university representation from across the globe, the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University team with their concept, “Project Draupnir,” in the AI-Powered Self-Replicating Probe theme, took home top prize in NASA’s Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts – Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) competition.  
      The University of Maryland took second place overall for their concept, “SITIS: Subsurface Ice and Terrain In-situ Surveyor,” while South Dakota State University took third place overall with “POSEID-N: Prospecting Observation System for Exploration, Investigation, Discovery, and Navigation,” both in the Large-Scale Lunar Crater Prospector theme.  
      The first and second place overall winning teams will receive a travel stipend to present their work at the 2024 AIAA Accelerating Space Commerce, Exploration, and New Discovery (ASCEND) Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in July. 
      The University of Maryland team, winners of second place overall in the RASC-AL 2024 competition.NASA In its 23rd year, RASC-AL is one of NASA’s longest running higher education competitions.  
      “It’s an engaging engineering design challenge that fosters collaboration, innovation, and hard work. Finalist teams also enjoy the comradery and networking opportunities at our annual forum in Cocoa Beach, Florida,” said Pat Troutman, program assistant, technical for NASA’s Strategy and Architecture Office. “Each year, the competition grows as more and more students want to contribute to NASA’s mission of improving humanity’s ability to operate on the Moon, Mars and beyond.”  
      The forum is attended by NASA and industry subject matter experts who judge the presentations and offer valuable feedback. New this year, RASC-AL teams based in the United States were encouraged to work with universities from countries that have signed The Artemis Accords – a set of principles designed to guide civil space exploration and use in the 21st century. 
      Finalist teams responded to one of four themes, ranging from developing large-scale lunar surface architectures enabling long-term off-world habitation, to designing new systems that leverage in-situ resources for in-space travel and exploration. 
      The South Dakota State team, winners of third place overall in the RASC-AL 2024 competition.NASA Additional 2024 Forum awards include: 
      Best in Theme: 
      AI-Powered Self-Replicating Probes – an Evolutionary Approach:   Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, “Project Draupnir”  Large-Scale Lunar Crater Prospector:  University of Maryland, “SITIS: Subsurface Ice and Terrain In-situ Surveyor”  Sustained Lunar Evolution: University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, “Permanent Outpost Lunar Architecture for Research and Innovative Services (POLARIS)”  Long Duration Mars Simulation at the Moon: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the National Higher French Institute of Aeronautics and Space (ISAE-SUPAERO), “MARTEMIS: Mars Architecture Research using Taguchi Experiments on the Moon with International Solidarity”  Other Awards: 
      Best Prototype: South Dakota State University, “POSEID-N: Prospecting Observation System for Exploration, Investigation, Discovery, and Navigation”  RASC-AL is open to undergraduate and graduate students studying disciplines related to human exploration, including aerospace, bio-medical, electrical, and mechanical engineering, and life, physical, and computer sciences. RASC-AL projects allow students to incorporate their coursework into space exploration objectives in a team environment and help bridge strategic knowledge gaps associated with NASA’s vision. Students have the opportunity to interact with NASA officials and industry experts and develop relationships that could lead to participation in other NASA student research programs.  
      RASC-AL is sponsored by the Strategies and Architectures Office within the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, and by the Space Mission Analysis Branch within the Systems Analysis and Concepts Directorate at NASA Langley. It is administered by the National Institute of Aerospace.  
      For more information about the RASC-AL competition, including complete theme and submission guidelines, visit: http://rascal.nianet.org. 
      Facebook logo @NASA@nasalarc @NASA@NASA_Langley Instagram logo @NASA@NASA_Langley Linkedin logo @NASA@company/nasa-langley-research-center Share
      Details
      Last Updated Jun 13, 2024 Related Terms
      Langley Research Center Space Technology Mission Directorate Explore More
      4 min read California Teams Win $1.5 Million in NASA’s Break the Ice Lunar Challenge
      Article 2 hours ago 2 min read Food Safety Program for Space Has Taken Over on Earth
      System created for Apollo astronaut food has become the global standard for hazard prevention
      Article 3 days ago 5 min read NASA’s Laser Relay System Sends Pet Imagery to, from Space Station
      Article 7 days ago View the full article
    • By NASA
      This article tells the story of one small American flag fortunate enough to be singled out from a group of one thousand flags just like it and embark on an incredible journey. The other 999 flags likely ended up as gifts, but this one flag had a loftier fate. It wasn’t the first American flag to ride on a crewed spacecraft into space, that one flew aboard Freedom 7 with Alan B. Shepard on May 5, 1961. Or the most famous flag that went into space, the Stars and Stripes planted on the Moon by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin on July 20, 1969, holds that honor. Other American flags have even flown on spacecraft not just to other planets but out of the solar system entirely. And tens of thousands of other small flags have thundered into space aboard space shuttles and returned to Earth for distribution around the world. So what makes this one small flag, known as the Legacy Flag, so special?

      Left: Launch of space shuttle Columbia on the STS-1 mission, April 12, 1981. Right: Landing of Columbia, April 14, 1981.
      Space shuttle Columbia first lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on April 12, 1981, to usher in a new era of reusable crewed space transportation. It carried not only its two pilots, John W. Young and Robert L. Crippen, but also the Official Flight Kit (OFK), stowed away in the lockers in the shuttle’s middeck, along with food, clothing and other supplies. Many of the OFK items, including 1,000 8-by-12-inch American flags, were destined for distribution after the mission to commemorate its historic significance. Once they returned to Earth and workers removed them from the shuttle’s middeck, NASA distributed many of the flags to various people and organizations. But some remained and ended up in storage at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. As the shuttle program progressed over the next 30 years, the number of flags in storage dwindled as additional recipients were identified. Finally, in 2011 it was time for the last shuttle mission, STS-135, and NASA felt it a fitting tribute to refly one of the flags from STS-1 on the final flight. Since STS-135 delivered supplies to the International Space Station, the flag would remain on board until the next time an American spacecraft carrying American astronauts launched from American soil arrived at the station. At the time, no one knew exactly how long that would take.

      Left: Launch of STS-135, July 8, 2011. Right: The crew of STS-135 pose with the Legacy Flag on the flight deck of Atlantis.
      On July 8, 2011, space shuttle Atlantis lifted off to begin STS-135, the final mission of the program with Christopher J. Ferguson, Douglas G. Hurley, Sandra H. Magnus, and Rex J. Walheim aboard, and two days later they docked with the station. The six international crewmembers of Expedition 28 welcomed them aboard. The long-term plan for the little flag was publicly revealed during a live TV session between the crew and President Barack H. Obama. “I also understand that Atlantis brought a unique American flag up to the station,” said President Obama. Shuttle Commander Ferguson explained that before their departure they would present the flag to the crew aboard the station, where “it will hopefully maintain a position of honor until the next vehicle launched from U.S. soil brings U.S. astronauts up to dock with the space station.”

      Left: The crews of STS-135 and Expedition 28 pose with the Legacy Flag. Right: The crews of STS-135 and Expedition 28 place the Legacy Flag on the hatch of the Harmony module.
      On July 18, near the end of the docked phase of STS-135, during a televised ceremony the crews placed the flag, flanked by the patches of the first and last space shuttle missions, on the forward hatch of the Harmony module, from where Atlantis would soon depart and where the next American crewed spacecraft would dock. After the shuttle and its crew left, the flag remained on the hatch for a while, but as time passed, onboard crews needed to use that area for stowage and so they moved it to a nearby wall for safekeeping. In 2015, to further safeguard the flag against damage or loss, Mission Control asked the onboard crew to place it in a stowage bag. As sometimes happens with stowage bags, this one moved around and ended up in a different module of the station. Three years later, during a general inventory of stowage bags, the crew found the flag and placed in a Ziploc bag with the words “Flown on STS-1 & STS-135. Only to be removed by crew launching from KSC” attached.

      Left: The Legacy Flag, placed between the STS-1 and STS-135 patches on the Harmony module’s forward hatch as Atlantis prepared to depart. Middle: In May 2014, during Expedition 40, astronauts mounted the flag on a wall near the Harmony module’s hatch to allow that area to be used for stowage. Right: The Legacy Flag in July 2018 during Expedition 56, placed in a Ziploc bag for safety.
      On May 30, 2020, a Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from KSC’s Launch Pad 39A, the same pad used for STS-1 and STS-135, carrying SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule on its Demo 2 mission. Aboard were Doug Hurley, who flew aboard the last shuttle mission, and Robert L. Behnken, the first American astronauts launched aboard an American spacecraft from American soil since STS-135. Once in orbit, Hurley and Behnken announced that they had christened their spacecraft Endeavour. The next day, Endeavour docked with the station, and Hurley and Behnken came aboard, welcomed by Expedition 63 Commander NASA astronaut Christopher J. Cassidy and Flight Engineers Anatoli A. Ivanishin and Ivan V.  Vagner representing Roscosmos. Mounted on the open hatch as they floated aboard the station was our intrepid little flag, in space for nine years, and 39 years after making its first trip into space. After their arrival, Cassidy, Hurley and Behnken held a press conference and proudly displayed the flag and how it stood as a symbol of the return of American launch capability. The flag’s nine-year journey came to end when Hurley and Behnken brought it back to Earth on Aug. 2, 2020. The flag first went on display at SpaceX’s facility in Hawthorne, California, then toured the country for a few months, making its final public appearance at the World Petroleum Congress in Houston in December 2021. Currently in storage at JSC, the Legacy Flag will fly again, possibly on even more distant journeys.

      Left: The Harmony module’s forward hatch bearing the Legacy Flag, opened to welcome the SpaceX Demo 2 crew. Middle: NASA astronauts Robert L. Behnken, left, Douglas G. Hurley (holding the Legacy Flag), and Christopher J. Cassidy during a press conference. Right: The Legacy Flag in its display case after its return to Earth.
      During its time on the space station, the Legacy Flag saw 100 visitors from many nationalities come and go, some of them more than once. Most stayed six months, some stayed longer, up to almost one year. A few made short visits of about a week. During all that time, the space station remained a busy beehive of activity, with hundreds of experiments conducted by the international crews. Many astronauts ventured outside, to repair equipment, place new experiments out, or bring older ones back inside. And in that time, the flag traveled more than 1.3 billion miles. 
      Explore More
      10 min read 55 Years Ago: Manned Orbiting Laboratory Cancellation
      Article 2 days ago 15 min read 55 Years Ago: Star Trek Final Episode Airs, Relationship with NASA Endures
      Article 1 week ago 6 min read 25 Years Ago: STS-96 Resupplies the Space Station
      Article 2 weeks ago View the full article
  • Check out these Videos

×
×
  • Create New...