NASA’s Orion lunar shipin the Pacific Ocean this weekend after a through space. And while the 25-day journey around the moon was important in its own right, a few secrets hidden beneath the spacecraft’s surface help convey the message of what the mission is all about.
On Saturday, NASA unveiled that Orion had five hidden “easter eggs” on board as nods to the agency’s history of lunar exploration. These secret items are part of a NASA tradition, with past flights including one’s mementos, such as theon Voyager 1 and 2.
Here are the items that accompanied Orionaround the moon and back.
A hidden animal
To the right of Orion’s pilot’s seat, unoccupied during this unmanned test flight, a picture of a cardinal was nestled above the window. The image carried a somewhat double, albeit intertwined, meaning during the journey.
The bird, often seen as a symbolic tribute to loved ones who have passed away, is also the mascot of the St. Louis Cardinals, a baseball team beloved of former Orion program manager and Johnson Space Center director Mark Geyer.
Geyer died in December 2021, in Houston, at the age of 63, after battling pancreatic cancer, NASA said, adding that he was the spacecraft’s first program manager and helped bring Orion to the planet. its first successful test in space in 2014.
Secret Morse code
In the center of Orion’s cabin was a secret word with a deep connection. NASA included the Morse code symbol for “Charlie” in honor of former Orion deputy program nanager Charlie Lundquist, who died in 2020.
NASA says Lundquist helped oversee the design, development and testing of the Orion spacecraft. Prior to that role, he had been the manager of the Orion crew and service module office.
Tribute to the international partnership
Orion’s historic mission to the moon was not done alone and required an incredible global partnership. To underscore how important that partnership was, NASA made sure the countries that helped make the flight possible had a front-row seat to the journey.
Right in front of the pilot’s seat, NASA included country codes for each nation that helped develop and build the spacecraft’s European Service Module. In the shoutout were Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Spain and the Netherlands.
Flying Frank Sinatra to the moon
One of singer Frank Sinatra’s greatest songs was his 1964 hit “Fly Me to the Moon.” And its affiliation with NASA is more than a happy coincidence: it has become something of an anthem for past missions.
In a stealthy tribute to the song, NASA placed the musical notes of the chorus – “C, B, A, G, F” – under one of the windows next to the pilot’s seat.
In 2008, Grammy Award-winning producer Quincy Jones, who produced and performed the tune with Sinatra, gave astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong platinum copies of the song. Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth and Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon.
The day Orion returned to Earth also happened 50 years after the last Apollo 17 moon landing.
A historic lunar return
The finishing touch to the package of “Easter Eggs” was a tribute to NASA’s history of exploration.
On the top of the pilot’s seat, just next to the agency logo, is a succession of black and white bars representing the binary code of the number 18. The code was placed in honor of the agency’s past trips to the moon with the Apollo Program – and a tribute to this new phase that will happen generations laterhe made his journey.
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