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International Astronautical Federation to Share Flags Flown Aboard U. S., Russian and Chinese Spacecraft

Three hundred commemorative flags belonging to the International Astronautical Federation and the only objects to have flown in space by all nations with active human space programs will be returned to the organization by a Chinese delegation at the ILA Berlin Air Show in Germany.

The flags, flown sequentially  aboard U. S., Russian and Chinese spacecraft to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the IAF, a global Paris-based space advocacy organization that counts 226 members in 59 countries, will be returned in ceremonies Friday, Sept. 14.

Commemorative IAF flags displayed aboard the International Space Station by Expedition 26. Photo Credit/IAF image

The flags spent a total of 444 days in Earth orbit, launching first aboard Soyuz TMA-20 in December 2010 to the International Space Station for a five month stay, then NASA’s STS-134 mission aboard the shuttle Endeavour to the space station in May 2011. Their final spaceflight began with a launching aboard China’s Tiangong-1 space station in late September 2011. They returned to Earth for the final time aboard China’s Shenzhou-9 spacecraft on June 29 of this year.

In all, the flags spent 444 days in space.

They were also flown aboard a French space agency Airbus A300 ZERO-G flight in June 2011, exposing the flags to the simulated gravity levels of the moon and Mars.

Chinese astronauts display IAF flags aboard Tiangong-1. Image Credit/IAF

 “We started this initiative in line with IAF’s mission to promote international cooperation for the advancement of human space activities,” said Berndt Feuerbacher, IAF President.  “Our much and so well-travelled IAF flags are the perfect illustration of the truly global reach of our organization”

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