Dick Johnson submitted this item about the space shuttle Discovery and the medal it's carrying into space on its last mission.
On November 1st, the space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to be launched from NASA'S Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Discovery got its name from one of explorer Captain James Cook's two ships names -- the other was Endeavour -- and a special Captain Cook medal will to be carried by the six-astronaut crew aboard the flight.
"We will be carrying a medallion from the [British] Royal Society that was struck in honor of Captain Cook," said NASA astronaut Michael Barratt, who will work as a mission specialist on the upcoming flight. "On Cook's third voyage, there was a ship called Discovery, and that's the main ship for which our ship Discovery took its name."
Discovery also took its name from a ship used by Henry Hudson in the early 1600s in Canada to explore what was eventually named Hudson Bay. Hudson sought out a hoped-for northwest passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Since the time of Hudson and Cook, several other famous ships have been christened "Discovery," and have carried on the strong tradition of exploration. One such vessel was used by the British Royal Geographical Society on an expedition to the North Pole in 1875.
"It's a culmination of a great heritage," Barratt said. "And we hope there are future ships bearing that name."
Captain Cook has been the subject of many medals issued over the years, its a popular collecting specialty among medal collectors.
To read an article on the subject by SPACE.com staff writer Denise Chow, click on:
How Did the Space Shuttle Discovery Get Its Name?
Wayne Homren, Editor
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