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Astronaut Returns Yellowstone Items Flown Aboard Space Shuttle

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Date: June 25, 2010
Contact: Al Nash, 307-344-2013

National Park Service

U.S. Department of the Interior

Yellowstone National Park

P.O. Box 168

Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190



June 25, 2010               10-051

Al Nash (307) 344-2015




Astronaut Returns Yellowstone Items Flown Aboard Space Shuttle

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A little piece of the world’s first national park has returned home after a trip into space.

Prior to a February’s flight to the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Robert Behnken offered to take some small items representing Yellowstone National Park with him aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Yellowstone staff members prepared a small banner with patches featuring various aspects of park operations for Behnken to take into space. The banner included two Junior Ranger patches and a patch representing the park’s Young Scientist program. The banner circled the earth 217 times, traveling 5.7 million miles.

The shuttle astronaut returned the banner to Yellowstone Superintendent Suzanne Lewis during a visit to the park Thursday. The banner, along with a plaque containing a mission patch and American flag which also were aboard the shuttle, will become part of the park’s museum collection.

“The mission the national parks and NASA share is outreach to kids about the importance of science, technology, and history,” said Behnken. 

“We do share a common goal of engaging children,” said Lewis. “Parks are great places to learn. Everything you can take in school you can learn in a national park.”

Behnken and his wife Megan McArthur, an astronaut who flew aboard a shuttle mission last year to the Hubble Space Telescope, share a deep love of the national parks. “National parks offer us a place to getaway – a place to recharge,” Behnken noted. “You do a wonderful job of keeping parks accessible to everyone without letting the impacts of visitors affect the resources.”

This was the second trip into space for Behnken, a Lt. Colonel in the U.S Air Force. Both Behnken and McArthur were selected by NASA to become astronauts in 2000.

- www.nps.gov/yell -

Did You Know?

Yellowstone Wolf.

There were no wolves in Yellowstone in 1994. The wolves that were reintroduced in 1995 and 1996 thrived and there are now over 300 of their descendents living in the Greater Yellowstone Area.