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NASA’s SpaceX astronauts to bring back a very special flag from the ISS



This flag finally comes home after moving on the first and last bus missions.

NASA

It is a game of catching the flag that has been taken for nine years and billions of dollars. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will claim a unique patriotic symbol that has been waiting for them at the International Space Station.

Behnken and Hurley arrived on the ISS on Sunday following Saturday̵

7;s successful launch of the SpaceX Demo-2 mission. Perhaps the most important souvenir they return to Earth is a small American flag that traveled on both the first space shuttle (STS-1 1981) and the last (STS-135 2011).

SpaceX seemed to telegraph its intentions to claim the flag way back in 2011 with a tweet: “SpaceX begins capture sequence …” SpaceX founder Elon Musk resumed the tweet on Sunday with a simple statement: “Nine years later.”

SpaceX was locked in a race with Boeing, the other company involved in NASA’s Commercial crew program, to reach the ISS first. Boeing works through some technical problems with its Starliner crew capsule, so SpaceX could claim the price.

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley and Chris Cassidy during a press conference on June 1. Hurley shows off the shuttle flag.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser / CNET

The flag has a special connection to Hurley, who was one of the final bus members who left the artifact at ISS 2011.

In a press conference from runway on monday, Hurley said the flag represents the hard work of thousands of NASA and SpaceX people who helped bring human launches back to US soil.

Hurley showed the flag. It now carries a note from NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, who was already on the ISS: “Don’t forget to bring the Crew Dragon.”

“We are lucky enough to be able to take it home,” Hurley said.

The flag’s journey is not supposed to end when it returns to our planet with the Crew Dragon.

“The flag will remain on board the station until the next crew launched from the United States fetches it to return to Earth so that it can be carried by the first crew launched from the United States on an exploration trip beyond the orbit,” NASA said in a 2011 statement on STS-135th

This means that the well-off flag can end up on the moon or even Mars one day. About NASA’s ambitious 2024 lunar plans exercise, it may not have to wait long.




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