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Space shuttle to return pallet full of history


The cargo carrier that brought a new robot to the space station has a 28 year history that includes three earlier flights. (NASA)
March 18, 2008 — Its purpose now served, the shipping pallet used to launch and then configure a Canadian two- armed robot for the International Space Station (ISS) will be reinstalled into space shuttle Endeavour's payload bay on Tuesday, in preparation for returning it to Earth.

Modified to support the Canadian Space Agency's Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM), or Dextre robot, this Spacelab Logistics Pallet (SLP) was making its fourth and final flight to space, concluding a long history that can be traced back before the first shuttle left the launch pad.

The pallet is not the only item making the roundtrip from the Earth to the space station and back. Stowed on-board Endeavour's middeck is a collection of soon-to-be space artifacts, ranging from a few hundred mission patches to a celebrity's playbill title page.

A pallet with a past

"Sadly, this is its last flight," wrote Scott Higginbotham, mission manager in the International Space Station and Spacecraft Processing Directorate at the Kennedy Space Center, in an e-mail to collectSPACE.


Spacelab Logistics Pallet MD002 during its preparation for the STS-123 mission, before the installation of Dextre.
More than 10 such Spacelab carriers were built in Europe for the United States' shuttle program. This pallet, noted by the serial number MD002, was delivered to ERNO, the predecessor to the European Space Agency, on January 21, 1980, more than a year before the first shuttle launch.

Its own first flight came five and a half years later aboard shuttle Challenger's eight day STS-51F mission. Flying as the forward pallet in a three pallet "train", it helped support scientific instruments.

The pallet next flew in Atlantis' payload bay as part of the 1992 STS-45 Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science (ATLAS-1) mission. Again dedicated to science equipment, the SLP held equipment from the US, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Japan.

MD002's third and current fourth flight shared similarities. Both launched on Endeavour and both were destined for the ISS. On the earlier flight, STS-100 in 2001, the pallet supported the launch and deployment of Canadarm2, the station's robotic arm. The Dextre robot flown on STS-123 connects to the arm and is used together when servicing the outpost.

When Endeavour lands next week, MD002 will have been in space for more than 45 days over the course of its four flights.

Mission mementos

To mark their own milestones in space and to thank those who, like the pallet, lent support to their flight, the seven crew members who launched on Endeavour had their own small 'pallet' of mission mementos packed on the shuttle.

The astronauts have items for individuals in their personal preference kits and items for organizations in their Official Flight Kit (OFK).

"I think different individuals have some school mementos and flags and banners that are always great to take," said STS-123 commander Dom Gorie in a pre-flight interview. He and his crew spoke with collectSPACE.com about the items they chose to fly for others.

"I like astronomy and I have a good friend who manages the Keck Telescope. I asked her if there was anything I could fly for the Keck and she came up with a drive lock," shared mission specialist Rick Linnehan about one of his mementos. The eight- by one-inch silver drive motor is a spare from the Hawaiian observatory.

Linnehan, who led the mission's first three spacewalks, is also carrying a lapel pin with pictures of the first American astronaut Alan Shepard. "That was from the Alan Shepard museum in New Hampshire in Concord, where I grew up. They asked me to fly that as they are opening up an Alan Shepard Center [at] the Christa McAuliffe planetarium," he said.

Bob Behnken, who made his first spacewalk with Linnehan on Monday night, is carrying wedding rings.

"I have some other people's wedding rings that are not mine. I think in one case we have to get them back before the actual wedding. They have to come back on our flight, they can't stay with the station crew," said Behnken, who is also flying a pair for his fiancée and him.

Another first time spacewalker during this mission, Mike Foreman has a "green and blue polka dot stuffed giraffe" on behalf of the Memorial Hermann Children's Hospital in Houston, Texas. "My wife actually works with the hospital and they had asked her about whether I was agreeable to take an item."

Pilot Greg "Box" Johnson is flying an item for a friend who once fought for Earth's independence from aliens. "We've corresponded and become pretty decent friends," Johnson said of actor Bill Pullman, whose roles included portraying the President of the United States in the 1996 blockbuster "Independence Day."

"I am flying the front page of the playbill of his 'Expedition 6' play that he wrote," said Johnson, referring to Pullman's theatrical adaptation of an earlier mission aboard the ISS. "I tried to fly the whole book but they didn't let me take it."

For Pullman, who spoke to collectSPACE at the launch of Endeavour in Florida, one page was more than enough.

"When he first said 'Is there something you'd want me to fly?' I thought, 'Wow, I didn't want to take up any space at all. I mean there's got to be more important things than anything I'd want to do," explained Pullman. "And then I thought the fact that the play represented a kind of a door for so many people that were working on the play that never really knew much about the space program or all the stories and the people and the culture, so I thought well, if I could get the title page there, maybe I will," he recalled.

Boomerangs, boxers and baseball


A selection of Japanese foods are on-board Endeavour. (NASA)
Not all the items the crew took with them are for others. Some they chose to share amongst themselves.

"I am carrying chopsticks, of course, for everyone," said Japanese astronaut Takao Doi, whose role on this flight includes configuring the new Japanese-built module that Endeavour brought to the station. "I am carrying 10 sets of chopsticks for everyone to try Japanese food in space."

His menu includes three types of Japanese noodles, a salmon dish and steamed rice.

"Rice is perfect for space food," remarked Doi. "Steamed rice is kind of sticky to each other so it just stays, its perfect for space. Its perfect really, I put curry on top of it and it just stays."

Doi also brought with him a paper boomerang designed by Japanese world boomerang champion Yasuhiro Togai. It is not known if gravity is required for boomerangs to fly their trademark roundtrip.

"I hope it'll come back to me, but it depends on how well you can fly," explained Doi. "I'd like to find out if gravity will be helping or not helping for the boomerang to come back. That's kind of an interesting kind of thing," he said.


The "Dream Shuttle" paper boomerangs designed for JAXA's astronaut Takao Doi. (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency)
Doi plans to throw the boomerang in the new Kibo logistics module, but he needs the permission of Peggy Whitson, the commander of the station, first. "She will tell me when and where I can do that."

While eating rice and throwing boomerangs, Doi will also be modeling the latest in space wardrobes. In an effort to improve such factors as "odor elimination" and "water absorbtion" while still being "soft and comfortable to the skin" Japan's "Near-Future Space-Living Unit" developed new clothing for Doi to test by wearing.

"I am carrying about 10 different items that have a special coating and a special way of making clothes so that it is more comfortable to wear them," said Doi. "Also, even if I wear [them for a] couple of days, three days, or five days, they should still kept clean. So it's kind of super clothing for the space program. I don't need to change," he stated.

Not to be outdone, Foreman also brought a special shirt to wear in space.

"I have a Houston Astros jersey that we'll have access to [on-orbit], so we'll all get a chance to try that on. It's a Lance Berkman jersey, so we're looking forward to giving it back to him when we get back."

Take me out to the space station

Another baseball fan, though for a different team, won't be there when Foreman and his fellow crewmates depart for home. Garrett Reisman joined the station's crew soon after arriving with Endeavour. He is replacing French astronaut Leopold Eyharts, who will fill his seat on the shuttle for the return to Earth.

In addition to flying a library card good for borrowing digital books from his New Jersey-hometown's public library ("I did not have the heart to tell them we do not have internet access on the station."), Reisman has a small sample of dirt from the pitcher mound of his favorite team's stadium.

"They had a really wonderful ceremony just before the game where they brought me out on the field," Reisman recalled. "I had very low expectations. New Yorkers and Yankee fans in particular are kind of hard to please, so I expected basically apathy."

"It was before the game. I didn't expect that the stands would be full, but they were, maybe because it was a Sunday game in the afternoon and it was a beautiful day. But, boy, the place was 70 to 80 percent full, so on the order of 40,000 people or so were out there. I expected that nobody would really pay attention and I expected just a few sentences over the public address and they would give me the dirt from the pitcher's mound and a banner and that was going to be it," Reisman continued. "But Bob Sheppard, the announcer there at Yankee Stadium, went on and on and when he said 'NASA Astronaut Garrett Reisman', the crowd gave out this big roar and I couldn't believe it! It was the most surreal moment to date of my life."

"And then when they mentioned I was from New Jersey, that got another big roar from the crowd, and then actually, the dirt and the banner were presented to me by Roger Clemmons. Roger came out of the dugout and gave me both of those items and we got to talk a little bit. That was amazing."



The STS-123 Official Flight Kit Manifest

The following is the STS-123 Official Flight Kit manifest, as provided by NASA. Inventory numbers that are missing indicate items that were removed prior to launch.

No.   Description   Sponsor/Purpose
 
1.   650 STS-122 Crew Patches   Agency Presentation
2.   600 Small United States Flags   Agency Presentation
3.   4 Sets U.S. States & Territories Flags   Agency Presentation
4.   4 Sets United Nations Members Flags   Agency Presentation
5.  
  1. 20 Small Texas Flags
  2. 5 Small NASA Flags
  3. 4 Small POW/MIA Flags
  4. 5 NASA Patches
  5. 5 Texas Lapel Pins
  6. 5 U.S./Japan Lapel Pins
  7. 2 Bronze NASA Seal Medallions
  8. 1 Silver Shuttle Pendant
  9. 6 Small JSC Medallions
  Agency Presentation
6.   Small Flags of the Following States:
  1. 15 Ohio
  2. 10 Texas
  Agency Presentation
7.   5 Small Flags of the Following States:
  1. Florida
  2. Colorado
  3. Arizona
  4. Michigan
  5. New Hampshire
  6. California
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Missouri
  9. New Jersey
  10. New York
  11. Pennsylvania
  Agency Presentation
8.   Small Flags of the Following Countries:
  1. 50 Japan
  2. 50 France
  3. 5 United Kingdom
  Agency Presentation
9.   20 Each Small Military Flags:
  1. U.S. Air Force
  2. U.S. Army
  3. U.S. Coast Guard
  4. U.S. Marine Corps
  5. U.S. Navy
  Agency Presentation
10.  
  1. 10 Small United States Flags
  2. 10 Small Alabama State Flags
  Marshall Space Flight Center Presentation
11.  
  1. 10 Small Louisiana State Flags
  2. 10 Small Mississippi State Flags
  3. 5 Small NASA Flags
  4. 5 Small United States Flags
  Stennis Space Center Presentation
12.  
  1. 2 Small United States Flags
  2. 2 Small Florida State Flags
  Kennedy Space Center Presentation
13.   100 Silver Snoopy Pins   Space Flight Awareness Presentation
 
14.   25 EVA Patches   Agency Presentation
15.  
  1. 10 STS-123 Crew Patches
  2. 30 Small U.S. flags
  3. 10 DoD Space Test Program Patches
  4. 25 DoD (DDMS) Coins
  5. 12 DoD Space Test Program 40th Anniversary Coins
  6. 20 Small Florida Flags
  7. 1 Small Japan Flag
  8. 1 Kibo JEM ELM Mission Patch
  9. 1 0-6 (Eagle) Grade Insignia
  10. 1 AFROTC Det 775 Unit Coin
  11. 1 Florida ANG Adjutants Coin
  12. 3 ANG Command Chief Master Sergeant Coins
  DoD Presentation
16.   15 STS-123 Crew Patches   United Space Alliance Presentation
 
17.  
  1. 20 Constellation Pins
  2. 10 Orion Pins
  Constellation Program Office Presentation
18.   1 Small (1"x4".5") Marble Paperweight   Agency Presentation
19.   1 Small LRDAA Coin   Long Range Detection Alumni Association, Patrick AFB, Florida
 
Items 20 through 93 are manifested at the request of the STS-123 crewmembers.
 
20.   White Flag with Hand Lettering (3'x4.5')   Sakai City, Osaka, Japan
 
23.   Rainbow Striped Pen with White Letters   Pentucket Lake Elementary School, Haverhill, MA
 
24.   Silver Star Collar Insignia   Naval Operations Center, Washington, DC
 
25.   Silver Star Collar Insignia   Chief of Navy Training, Washington, DC
 
27.   Red Plastic Mesa View Token   Mesa View County, Mesa, AZ
 
28.   Blue Cloth (6.5"x6.5")   Beaver State Company, Tacoma, WA
 
29.   Blue, Yellow and White Pennant   123 Rotary Club, Traverse City, MI
 
30.   Blue Polo Shirt with Brown Letters   Boon's Inn, Traverse City, MI
 
31.   Black T-Shirt with Red and White Letters   League City Intermediate School Band, TX
 
32.   Blue School Banner (19"x12")   Hyde Elementary School, League City, TX
 
33.   White and Purple Ace of Spades Card   American Contract Bridge League, Memphis, TN
 
34.   U.S Flag (18"x12")   Clear Creek High School, League City, TX
 
35.   Texas Flag (18"x11")   Symphonic Band, Houston, TX
 
36.   Blue, White and Gold Pin   City of Fairborn, Fairborn, OH
 
37.   Green and Silver Pin with Star   Texas Forest Service, College Station, TX
 
38.   Gold Pin with Stars   Pattonville High School, Maryland Heights, MO
 
39.   Brown, Green and White Patch   Joshua Tree National Park, Twentynine Palms, CA
 
40.   Brown, Green and White Patch   National Park Service Headquarters, Washington, DC
 
41.   White Handkerchief with Flag Border   Westwood Elementary School, Friendswood, TX
 
42.   Brown, Green and White Patch   National Park Services Craters of the Moon, Arco, ID
 
43.   Blue Patch with Red Lettering   St. Ann Police Department, St. Ann, MO
 
44.   STS-123 Silver Medallion   Washington University Administration, St. Louis, MO
 
45.   STS-123 Silver Medallion   Washington University Engineering School, St. Louis, MO
 
46.   STS-123 Silver Medallion   California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
 
47.   U.S. Flag (3'x5')   United States Navy AEDO Community, Patuxent River, MD
 
48.   Blue T-Shirt with White Lettering   Universal United Methodist Church, Houston, TX
 
49.   Black/Gold/White/Red Patch   United States Marine Corps, Washington, DC
 
50.   White T-Shirt with Maroon Lettering   Trinity Swim Team, Webster, TX
 
51.   Green and Gold Patch   Palm Beach City Sheriff's Department, FL
 
52.   Blue, White and Yellow Patch   Akron Police Department, Akron, OH
 
53.   Red Plastic Heart Case with Black Lettering   Sacred Heart Parish School, Wadsworth, OH
 
54.   Red Lanyard with White Lettering   Wadsworth High School, Wadsworth, OH
 
55.   Black Hat with Silver Lettering   Kingdom Builders Center, Houston, TX
 
56.   Green and Blue Polka Dot Stuffed Giraffe   Mememorial Hermann Children's Hospital, Houston, TX
 
57.   Blue and White Flag (3'x4.4')   Ibaraki Prefecture, Ibaraki-ken, Japan
 
58.   White T-Shirt with Lithographs   Fukushima Elementary School, Fukushima-ken, Japan
 
59.   DVD of Takao Doi and Students   Hiakari Elementary School, Fukuoka, Japan
 
60.   Black Cap with White Lettering   Mikado Elementary School, Okayama, Japan
 
61.   Silver Medallion with Gold Japanese Lettering   Astronomical Society of Japan, Tokyo, Japan
 
62.   White and Navy Flag (3'x4.5')   Kofu City, Kofu, Japan
 
63.   White Cloth Litho of Orion Nebula   Rice University, Houston, TX
 
64.   Navy Jacket Jumper   JAXA Exploration Module Ops Team, Japan
 
65.   Violet Flag with White Lettering   Taiki High School, Hokkaido, Japan
 
66.   White Patch with Dolphin Logo   Harbor Branch Rescue, Fort Pierce, FL
 
67.   Maroon Bowtie with Silver Octagon Design   Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
 
68.   Ohio State Veterinarian Gold Medallion   OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Columbus, OH
 
69.   Poster of Marine Mammals (6"x18")   Johns Hopkins Dept. of Pathology, Baltimore, MD
 
70.   Silver Drive Rotor from Keck Telescope   W.M. Keck Observatory, Kamuela, HI
 
71.   Navy Pin with Alan Shepard Pictures   Christa McAuliffe Planetarium-Alan Shepard Discovery Center, Concord, NH
 
72.   Maroon Banner with White Letters   John F. Kennedy School of Govt., Cambridge, MA
 
73.   White Mat with Channel Islands Drawing   Channel Island Marine & Wildlife Institutes, Santa Barbara, CA
 
74.   Blue Banner with White Lettering   University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
 
75.   Nylon Flag with Red Letters   Santa Barbara Los Ranchos Pobres, Santa Barbara, CA
 
76.   Orange Library Card   Par Troy Library System, Parsippany Troy, NJ
 
77.   Gold Pin with Blue Letters and Red Star   Parsippany Troy High School, NJ
 
78.   Blue Patch with Shield   Office of the Mayor, Parsippany, NJ
 
79.   Photo of People in Hangar (4"x6")   Aero Association of Cal Tech, Pasadena, CA
 
80.   White Patch with Gold NSF Design   National Science Foundation, Washington, DC
 
81.   Planetary Map (26"x36")   Rocky Mountain Map Society, Denver, CO
 
82.   Planetary Map (26"x36")   Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Denver, CO
 
83.   Flag Patch with Blue Letters   Northrop Grumman, Redondo Beach, CA
 
84.   White Cloth with Gold Letters   US Naval Aviation, Redondo Beach, CA
 
85.   Gold Key   Flying Cal Teachers, Pasadena, CA
 
86.   Silver Military Wings   Agency Presentation
 
87.   Silver Military Wings   Agency Presentation
 
88.   Gold Military Wings   Agency Presentation
 
89.   Gold Astronaut Pin   Agency Presentation
 
90.   Gold Astronaut Pin   Agency Presentation
 
91.   Gold Astronaut Pin   Agency Presentation
 
92.   Gold Astronaut Pin   Agency Presentation
 
93.   Gold Astronaut Pin   Agency Presentation
 
Items 94 through 99 are manifested at the request of the STS-123 payload customers.
 
94.  
  1. 300 Sheets Bookmarks (8.5"x11")
  2. 20 SSP Patches
  3. 2 SSP Pins
  Space Shuttle Program Office Presentation
95.  
  1. 150 1J/A Mission Patches
  2. 20 1J/A Mission Pins
  International Space Station Presentation
96.  
  1. 100 JAXA 1J/A Patches
  2. 100 1/JA/Kibo Pins w/o Needle
  3. 100 Small Flags of Japan
  4. 100 Small Kibo Flags
  5. 100 Small JAXA Flags
  6. 100 Kibo Decals
  Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency Items
97.  
  1. 70 Small flags of Canada
  2. 100 Dextre Patches
  3. 50 Sheets of Certificates (8.5"x11")
  Canadian Space Agency Presentation
98.  
  1. 10 MAUI Patches
  2. 40 MISSE Decals
  DoD Presentation
99.  
  1. 25 ISS Utilization Patches
  2. 61 MER Patches
  ISS Payloads & Vehicle Office Presentation

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