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NASA’s SpaceX astronauts are bringing back a very special flag from the ISS

This flag will finally come home after flying the first and last shuttle mission.


It is a game of conquering the flag that cost 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 on the International Space Station.

Behnken and Hurley arrived on the ISS on Sunday after the successful launch of the SpaceX Demo 2 mission on Saturday. Perhaps the most important souvenir they will bring back to Earth is a small American flag that was on both the first space shuttle mission (STS-1

1981) and the last one (STS-135 2011).

SpaceX seemed to be telegraphing its intentions to claim the flag back in 2011 with a tweet: “SpaceX starts with the flag capture sequence …” SpaceX founder Elon Musk reappeared the tweet on Sunday with a simple statement: “Nine years later.”

SpaceX was involved in a race with Boeing, the other company involved in NASA Commercial crew programto reach the ISS first. Boeing is working on some technical problems with the Starliner crew capsuleSo SpaceX could claim the price.

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

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser / CNET

The flag has a special connection to Hurley, who was one of the last shuttle crew members to leave the artifact on the ISS in 2011.

In one Press conference from orbit on MondayHurley said the flag represents the hard work of thousands of NASA and SpaceX people who have helped bring human launches back to U.S. soil.

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

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

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

“The flag remains on the station until the next US-launched crew picks it up to return to Earth so that the first US-launched crew can carry it on an Earth orbit expedition,” NASA said in one 2011 STS-135 Declaration.

That means that the widely traveled flag could one day visit the moon or even Mars. If NASA ambitious moon plans for 2024 train, it doesn’t have to wait long.

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