Bob Jacobs Headquarters, Washington (Phone: 202/358-1600) Anne Canty American Museum of Natural History, New

York (Phone: 212/769-5973) RELEASE: 02-112

June 14, 2002

NASA ADMINISTRATOR, ASTRONAUTS HONOR FLAG DAY WITH SPECIAL PRESENTATION OF OLD GLORY NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today leads a delegation of astronauts in a special presentation of colors at the American Museum of Natural History's Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York. An American flag recovered from the site of the World Trade Center in the days following the September 11 attacks returns home after traveling nearly 5 million miles in space aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour during STS-108 in December. The flag, damaged but intact, was pulled from the debris by the New York City Police Department. To honor the victims, families and those who helped in the rescue and recovery efforts of September 11, NASA flew the recovered Stars and Stripes as part of the agency's Flags for Heroes and Families campaign. "The tradition of carrying American flags into space dates back to the very beginning of this historic agency," said Administrator O'Keefe. "From the surface of the Moon to the unchartered regions of our galaxy, NASA has flown the American flag as a patriotic symbol of truth, honor and justice. It is appropriate that we present this flag back to the city of New York on Flag Day." The American Museum of Natural History hosts today's presentation. The Museum is one of the world's premiere scientific educational and cultural institutions. Since its founding in 1869, the Museum has advanced its global mission to discover, interpret and disseminate information about human cultures, the natural world and the universe, through a wide-reaching program of scientific research, education and exhibitions. In February 2000, the Museum of Natural History opened the monumental 120-foot-high, 335,500 square-foot Frederick Phineas & Sandra Priest Rose Center for Earth and Space. "On behalf of the trustees and staff of the American Museum of Natural History, we are deeply moved and very honored to host this meaningful presentation by

Administrator O'Keefe to Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki," said Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History. "The Museum shares a deep commitment to science education with the city, the state and NASA. Today, with the return of these precious items, we rededicate ourselves to our core mission of advancing science literacy and cultural understanding in anticipation of a future filled with courage, resilience and hope." The large American Flag, along with other commemorative badges, patches and other items, were carried into space with nearly 6,000 smaller American flags that will be given to the victims' families in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Along with Administrator O'Keefe, NASA astronauts Frank Culbertson, Dominic Gorie, Linda Godwin and Michael Massimino help present the flown items to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Governor George Pataki, and representatives from the New York Police Department, Fire Department and the New York and New Jersey Port Authority. "This precious flag symbolizes the sacrifice and courage of the thousands of News Yorkers and Americans who perished that fateful day," Governor Pataki said. "On behalf of all New Yorkers, I am proud to welcome the flag back to the New York City to honor the innocent men and women who were working in the towers on September 11, and the countless heroes whose spirit and strength has helped carry us through this horrific ordeal." Culbertson served as Expedition Three Commander on the International Space Station and was the only American not on the planet at the time of the terrorist attacks. He captured the first dramatic images from space of the fires at the World Trade Center shortly before the buildings collapsed. Gorie was mission commander of STS-108 and Godwin was a mission specialist on board Endeavour during the December mission. Massimino has close ties to the New York Fire Department and was mission specialist on board the Space Shuttle Columbia during STS-109 in March. "From space, the astronauts get a unique view of our home planet and the destruction was clearly visible from orbit. The events of September 11 deeply affected them, as they did the entire nation," concluded Administrator O'Keefe. "We hope this campaign is seen as a fitting tribute from America's space program as the courageous people of New York move forward." Additional information about the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs and the American Museum of Natural History is available on the Internet at:

http://spaceflight.nasa.gov http://www.amnh.org/ -end-