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Space souvenirs land back at DePauw as shuttle program ends

Thursday, July 21, 2011

DePauw Photos by Linda Striggo - A number of items that went into space aboard the 1984 flight of the Shuttle Discovery have been donated to DePauw University by retired astronaut Joe Allen, a 1959 DPU graduate. On a recent visit to campus, Allen (below, right) presented the space souvenirs to DePauw Vice President for Communications and Strategic Initiatives Christopher Wells.


As Atlantis came home today on the final mission of the Shuttle Transportation System (STS) program, a number of artifacts have found their way back to DePauw University.

And when today's landing effectively puts an end to the shuttle program, a noted DePauw alum will still have a lifetime of memories to cherish.

Retired astronaut Joseph P. Allen recently presented the university with a pair of small black-and-gold felt DePauw pennants that he carried aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on its November 1984 mission.

"The artifacts were carried aboard STS-51A, which was flight No. 14 of the shuttle program, and flight No. 2 for Discovery," Allen told the Banner Graphic.

"It was the only mission to accomplish a space salvage operation," Allen added, alluding to his efforts as mission specialist to help retrieve and return to Earth the Palapa B-2 and Westar VI communications satellites.

In addition to retuning the space souvenir pennants to DePauw, where they were recently presented to Vice President for Communications and Strategic Initiatives Christopher Wells, Allen also gave the university two NASA flight suit patches, a pair of NASA insignias and four small American flags that were aboard the shuttle.

All of the items flew with Allen aboard the Discovery flight, which blasted off Nov. 8, 1984 and returned to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida 192 hours and 127 orbits later on Nov. 16, 1984.

With the completion of that shuttle flight, Allen's personal final space frontier, the 1959 DePauw graduate had logged a NASA career total of 314 hours in space. In 2005, he was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

He and wife Bonnie, a 1961 DePauw graduate, presented the space souvenirs on the occasion of her 50th class reunion during recent Alumni Weekend activities on campus.

In addition to flying aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, Allen also served as a mission specialist on the Nov. 11, 1982 launch of Columbia on the first fully operational flight of the STS program. Columbia completed 81 orbits of the Earth in 122 hours before landing on a concrete runway for the first time at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

The 74-year-old Allen, who was born in Crawfordsville, is the son of Harriett and Joseph P. Allen III. His father was a longtime DPU professor.

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