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Superintendent Jock Whitworth has announced that a Zion National Park Centennial coin is onboard space shuttle Endeavor on its flight to the International Space Station. The commemorative coin was carried onboard by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Behnken, a mission specialist on the STS-130 mission to the International Space Station. The coin’s space journey marks the final official event in celebration of 100 years of Zion National Park since its initial establishment as Mukuntuweap National Monument on July 31, 1909.
Lt. Col. Behnken requested an item symbolizing Zion National Park to carry with him on the mission. Lt. Col. Behnken and his wife Megan McArthur, also an astronaut, have enjoyed camping and hiking in the park and he wanted to show his appreciation by including an item from the park. The Zion Centennial commemorative coin will be returned to the park at the conclusion of the mission and will become a permanent addition to the park’s museum collection. While in space, Lt. Col. Behnken will also photograph Zion Canyon.
Space shuttle Endeavor lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday, February 7. During the 13 day flight, the STS-130 mission will deliver a third connecting module and a seven windowed cupola to the space station. A series of three space walks, led by Lt. Col. Behnken, will attach the new additions to the space station. If viewing images from the space walks, Lt. Col. Behnken can be identified by the solid red stripes on his spacesuit. The mission’s progress and additional information can be obtained by accessing www.nasa.gov.