June 5, 2008

Shuttle Astronauts Share Space Through Souvenirs

and Buzz are in space again, though they aren't the Apollo astronauts who made
history walking on the Moon.

cyclist Lance Armstrong and 'space ranger' Buzz Lightyear are sharing space
aboard shuttle Discovery, now docked to the International Space Station. And
they are not alone; joining them for the 14-day mission are retired Houston
Astros' player Craig Biggio and New York Giants' quarterback Eli Manning.

Of course,
none of the individuals (and fictional character) are themselves in space, but
the crew of STS-124 chose to take items representing each of them aboard the

he's this super human" said astronaut Karen Nyberg of Lance Armstrong during
an interview with collectSPACE.com before she launched.
"I just love his athletic abilities. I am taking one of his [Tour de
France] yellow jerseys."

Manning's back-up Super Bowl XLII jersey and Biggio's last game-worn jersey
have places in the orbiting locker room. Four of the crew members hail from the
New York/New Jersey area, home to Manning's Giants, and all live, train and
take instruction while in space from mission control in Houston, south of the
Astros' Minute Maid Park.

or a 12-inch action
of the Disney and Pixar "Toy Story" spaceman, will
"fly" from Discovery to the space station for a six month stay,
kicking off an educational partnership between NASA and the house that Walt

stowaways are part of the crew's "personal preference kits" (PPKs),
small pouches that hold mementos — not just for celebrities. A majority of
the souvenirs are for their friends and family.

he has this little bullet that he used to carry around since he was a little
kid. I know that sounds terrible but it's a spent rifle bullet and it just
means something to him. I don't know why. So, we're flying that," pilot
Ken Ham told collectSPACE.com about one of his two son's items. "And then
Randy, he's a big Green Bay Packers fan, so he's got this Brett Farve

Mike Fossum also took items for his boys.

second son John is 17, and he's finishing up his [Boy Scouts'] Eagle and I
brought up on my first flight his Eagle badge but [on this flight, I have his]
pin that will be pinned onto him during his Eagle ceremony. I flew my older
son's [pin] on my first flight, he's already earned his. This time I am flying
him a larger Eagle patch that he can have made properly framed and display in
his office some day," said Fossum, who serves as a Scoutmaster of a
Houston local Boy Scouts troop.

Chamitoff, who joined the ISS's
Expedition 17 crew
after docking, is the second crewmen of Jewish descent
to live aboard the station (the first, Garrett Reisman, will return to Earth
with Discovery). He brought with him a pair of mezuzot as gifts for a former
teacher and a friend. The encased, prayer-inscribed parchment customarily
placed on the door frames of Jewish homes were designed by an Israeli artist
who was inspired by space exploration. "I will install them [on the door
of my sleep area], take pictures and then put them away," said Chamitoff.

The PPKs
can also include small items for the astronauts themselves.

brought a few pieces of fabric with her to knit into a quilt after the flight.
"My mom taught me to sew when I was six. So I grew [up] sewing, making my own
clothes," she said.

their personal kits, the astronauts could also pack items for organizations in
their mission's Official Flight
(OFK), a larger stash of official presentation items. In the STS-124
OFK there is a patch for Jet Blue Airlines; World Series pins for both the
White Sox and Astros teams; and ocean water for the U.S. Merchant Marine
Booster Club in Kings Point, NY.

Ham has a
microphone stand for ESPN. Spacewalker Ron Garan has a silver coin for the
Manna Energy Foundation, which he founded to combat poverty. Fossum flew a flag
for his alma mater, Texas A&M University, continuing his display of Aggie
pride that he started during his first flight.

Nyberg, as
the University of North Dakota's first alumna to fly in space, took a flag and
a certificate for the school, as well as a compact disc. "The School of Engineering has sent a disc that has the names of all the students, faculty and
staff since I think 1897, whenever the school started."

mission's primary payload, the Japanese pressurized module, the primary
component of the three-part
Kibo lab
and the longest component to be added to the outpost, is
represented on the crew by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission
specialist Aki Hoshide. He chose items for several schools in Japan as well as a package of Zelkova Serrata tree seeds for the government of Tokyo.

are [flying] a Japanese flag, but the Kibo itself is the commemorative item, I
think," said Hoshide.

Click here to
read the full manifest of the STS-124 Official Flight Kit.

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