HBCU flags and ‘Rosie’ coins under Boeing Starliner OFT-2 cargo
Flags, patches and pins representing the diverse history of the United States and its space exploration efforts will be on board the next time Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft launches, the aerospace company announced.
The brightly colored banners of 14 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) were packed alongside Rosie the Riveter medallions and Silver Snoopy Pins aboard the Starliner capsule, which is set to make a second attempt to reach the International Space Station on Boeing’s unmanned orbital flight Test (OFT-2).
“By representing HBCUs on our Starliner mission, we are demonstrating our commitment to work with these institutions to promote equity and inclusion and ensure a bright future for their students,” said David Calhoun, Boeing President and CEO, in an am Statement published Thursday (June 17). “Closing representation gaps in our company and our industry is a priority for Boeing, and getting diverse students excited about careers in aerospace is an important part of that effort.”
The OFT-2 launch on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida is scheduled for July 30th.
The HBCU flags and other memorabilia will be part of the approximately 760 pounds (345 kg) cargo and supplies that fly on the Starliner. NASA’s cargo division, weighing approximately 440 pounds (200 pounds), includes groceries and other items for the astronauts who are now on the space station.
Starliner will also deliver clothing, sleeping bags and other supplies for Crew Flight Test (CFT) astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore, Nicole Mann and Mike Fincke pending their follow-up mission to the space station. The OFT-2 and CFT missions are critical milestones on Boeing’s journey toward aircrew for NASA as they meet and exceed the goals missed on the program-plagued OFT-1 flight in 2019.
To commemorate the move from unmanned to astronaut missions, Boeing will hoist a US flag on OFT-2 that will remain on the station until it is returned to Earth by the CFT crew.
Other American flags will fly alongside those of the HBCUs and will remain on the Starliner for the entire OFT-2 flight. The universities represented are: Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Spelman College, part of the Atlanta University Center Consortium; Alabama A&M University; Florida A&M University; Howard University in Washington, DC; Morgan State University in Maryland; North Carolina A&T; Prairie View A&M University in Texas; Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana; State University of South Carolina; Tennessee State University and Tuskegee University in Alabama.
Several other schools that Boeing has recruiting partnerships with will also be on the mission, including Allen University in South Carolina, where the company is establishing the Boeing Institute on Civility. The institute will be a national teaching and programming center aimed at advancing civil discourse in America and around the world.
Additional mementos on OFT-2 will be silver Snoopy Pins given by NASA astronauts to those who directly contribute to the success of manned spaceflight, and an identity card signed and used by Boeing founder Bill Boeing for the trip through the United States belong to air. The same card previously flew aboard OFT-1.
“When I looked at the card, I wondered if [Bill Boeing] would have thought that we would go so far and build our own spaceship and he would be proud of us, “said Melanie Weber, subsystem manager for crew and cargo accommodation.” I hope he is.
Rosie the Riveter commemorative coins will also travel into space on OFT-2.
The coins were created to celebrate the passing of the Rosie the Riveter Congressional Gold Medal Act last year, which honors nearly 19 million American women who stood up and filled a critical void in the aerospace industry as men fought in World War II . Designed to recognize the impact of Rosie Riveters and inspire future generations, the coins will be used after the flight to celebrate the accomplishments of students and Boeing employees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
The coins and other memorabilia from a successful flight hoped for by Boeing will also serve as ballast and replace the bulk of a crew of four.
“The cargo is extremely important when you consider the weight and center of gravity of the vehicle. Every part matters, ”Dee Dobson, a Boeing systems engineer who helped pack and weigh the cargo as part of the Starliner’s crew and cargo accommodations, said.
The practice of carrying souvenirs on US spaceships goes back to the first satellites and vehicles that were sent into space. Similar memorabilia have been launched on many unmanned and manned missions into orbit, to the moon, and to the International Space Station.