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Space Shuttle flags (U.S.)

Last modified: 2006-01-21 by
Keywords: space shuttle | united states | columbia | challenger | discovery | atlantis | endeavour |
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The space shuttles have their own flags. They traditionally accompany the OV (orbital vehicle) into the VAB, then onto the launch pad. There are several hanging in the restricted areas of Cape Canaveral; the VAB, the personnel training centers and headquarters buildings among others. A flag of the particular orbiter to be launched is raised while that particular ship in on the pad prior to launch.

Naming of the Shuttles

A search of reveals:

Discovery, the third orbiter to become operational at Kennedy Space Center, was named after one of two ships that were used by the British explorer James Cook in the 1770s during voyages in the South Pacific that led to the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. Another of his ships was the Endeavour, the namesake of NASA's newest orbiter....

Columbia, the oldest orbiter in the Shuttle fleet, is named after the Boston, Massachusetts based sloop captained by American Robert Gray. On May 11, 1792, Gray and his crew maneuvered the Columbia past the dangerous sandbar at the mouth of a river extending more than 1,000 miles through what is today south-eastern British Columbia, Canada, and the Washington-Oregon border. The river was later named after the ship....

Atlantis, the fourth orbiter to become operational at Kennedy Space Center, was named after the primary research vessel for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts from 1930 to 1966. The two-masted, 460-ton ketch was the first U.S. vessel to be used for oceanographic research....

Challenger, the second orbiter to become operational at Kennedy Space Center, was named after the British Naval research vessel HMS Challenger that sailed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans during the 1870's....

Endeavour, the newest addition to the four-orbiter fleet, is named after the first ship commanded by James Cook, the 18th century British explorer, navigator and astronomer. On Endeavour's maiden voyage in August 1768, Cook sailed to the South Pacific (to observe and record the infrequent event of the planet Venus passing between the Earth and the sun). Determining the transit of Venus enabled early astronomers to find the distance of the sun from the Earth, which then could be used as a unit of measurement in calculating the parameters of the universe....
submitted by: Phil Nelson, 28 February 2002

Flag of the Space Shuttle Columbia

Flag of the Space Shuttle Discovery

[Flag of Space Shuttle Discovery] by Jorge Candeias, 8 October 1998

At least the shuttle Discovery has its own flag. About two weeks ago, I was watching a TV program on the last mission of American shuttles to the Russian space station Mir. The interesting part is that some shots were taken in Cape Kennedy of the shuttle being taken (slowly) to the place of the take off, and suddenly appears before my eyes a blue-white-red flag diagonally divided with a small slope and "DISCOVERY" in blue letters, centered. Inside the "O", a silhouette of a shuttle.
Jorge Candeias, 8 October 1998

Flag of the Space Shuttle Atlantis

The space shuttle Atlantis went up to the International Space Station yesterday. Flying at the launch site (at a safe distance, of course) was a U.S. flag, and below it on the same pole, a smaller Atlantis flag-same as the Discovery flag, but with "Atlantis" instead, also in sans serif capitals. The second "A" is replaced by the sillouhette of the shuttle.
Nathan Lamm, 9 April 2002

Flag of the Space Shuttle Endeavour

[Flag of Space Shuttle Endeavour] by Rick Wyatt

NASA shows the Endeavour flag, with the shuttle image (open doors) replacing the "A." I'm not sure why the "Manned Flight Awareness- NASA" logo appears- maybe it was under that program that the flag was created.
Nathan Lamm, 28 February 2002