I love mission patches. As a memento of a project there is nothing cooler than mission patches! The 2020-2021 season was extraordinary for Magnitude in that we acquired a number of mementos from this flight. When your payload is launched in most space capsules, they do not have a return journey. While there are several ways to get to the International Space Station, there is currently only one way to get experiments back to earth.
Our primary mission that season was ExoLab-8, where we investigated red clover (Trifolium pratense) and the symbiotic relationship with a nitrogen fixing bacteria (R. leguminosarum) as a follow on to the Leguminaut Challenge. The mission was launched aboard the S.S. Katherine Johnson – a Northrup Grumman Cygnus resupply spacecraft NG-15.
Our planned return was on SpaceX-22, which was later than we would have liked, but a ride home is a ride home. Our commercial service provider, Space Tango, worked some magic and brought us home aboard the historic SpaceX Crew-1 Dragon.
This mission was special in other respects as well: we sent the first teacher in our program to space! Well, not the teacher, but their likeness as a Bitmoji. In a collaboration with Snap, Inc. a series of avatars were created to connect learning and aerospace through Astromoji. Lisa Turney from Linwood Kansas was our contest winner. Wouldn’t that be cool to do that again?