My suborbital life, part 5: Hi Five!
by Alan Stern
|VG permits us to each have two small Ziploc bags with personal mementos of our choosing to fly in our flight suit pockets.|
But another thing you’ll see on flight day are our various flight patches. Just below are the ones by VG, our flight provider, and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). SwRI, my employer, is sponsoring my flight as a research and space training exercise designed to gain experience for future suborbital flights we will fly on.
I love VG’s patch design, which contains a lot of symbolism in a really smart way. VG described the many cool aspects of the patch design in the post below. I know my fellow suborbital G05 researcher, Kellie Gerardi also has a mission patch, but I’ll leave it to her to reveal and discuss her patch her own way.
What's in a patch? For the #Galactic05 mission, it’s all about the science!— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) October 23, 2023
The design features the universal symbol of science at the apex, a horizontal line that symbolizes the infinite possibilities of suborbital research exploration, 4 blue pillars representing STEM, and a… pic.twitter.com/SDlaTkP9fE
But what I most want to tell you about here is our SwRI G05 mission patch. It includes a legacy company logo from the time that we began this project more than a decade ago, five stars for G05, a stylized VG Unity spacecraft (the one we’re flying on), and the names of myself as principal investigator and my colleague Dr. Dan Durda, also of SwRI, who is the mission co-investigator. The rocket icon by my name indicates I am the SwRI space flyer on this mission. The blue arch represents the flight profile of our mission. Finally, the US flag represents the country where I and SwRI are based; the only country, I note, to have commercial suborbital space lines!
The Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) mission patch for the Galactic 05 research mission. (credit: SwRI)
Before I wrap up this essay, I also want to say a little about some of the personal mementos we are able to fly. VG permits us to each have two small Ziploc bags with personal mementos of our choosing (of course, each item has to pass VG safety and other inspections) to fly in our flight suit pockets.
Among the items I’m flying are pictures of immediate family, some mission patches and decals from this mission and for NASA’s New Horizons mission, which I also serve as principal investigator on. I’m also flying a ring my late father made in his metal shop that was a gift to me, which I took down to the wreck of the Titanic in the summer of 2022, and a ground down pencil that symbolizes the perseverance that many of my spaceflight projects have require to succeed, this one included! And in addition, I’m also flying a few mementos for close friends and relatives, and a small model of the SwRI company mascot, a roadrunner, which is common to south Texas where the company has been headquartered since its inception over 75 years ago. Each of these items is personally meaningful to me, and I know I’ll enjoy having them after the flight as “space flown items” that accompanied me on my first spaceflight.
One of the items I plan to bring on the flight is a montage of members of my immediate family; another is a ring my dad made which I wore in this picture more than 3,960 meters (13,000 feet) below the North Atlantic on our dive to the Titanic last summer. (credit: Alan Stern)
I’ll close now by asking, what would you bring in your pocket for your first spaceflight?
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