Crew & Mission

(STS042-S-002) - STS-42 Discovery, Orbiter Vehicle (OV) 103, International Microgravity Laboratory 1 (IML-1) official crew portrait shows crewmembers, wearing launch and entry suits, backdropped against a space shuttle orbiter launch scene. From left to right are Pilot Stephen S. Oswald, Payload Specialist Roberta L. Bondar, Mission Specialist (MS) Norman E. Thagard, Commander Ronald J. Grabe, MS David C. Hilmers, Payload Specialist Ulf D. Merbold, and MS William F. Readdy. The two payload specialists represent Canada (Bondar) and the European Space Agency (ESA) (Merbold).

The STS-42 portrait was created using a double exposure as the photo below shows. The Photo was taken near the central pond at the Johnson Space Center with a less spectacular background. The Space Shuttle launch was pasted in later. The original photo also includes back-up payload spacealists Ken Money and Roger Crouch.

Thanks to Ed Hengeveld, Spaceflight magazine, November 2003.

The Artwork

(STS042-S-001) - Designed by the crewmembers, the STS- 42 Intemational Microgravity Lab- 1 insignia depicts the orbiter with the Spacelab module aboard. The spacecraft is oriented in a quiescent, tail-to-Earth, gravity-gradient attitude to best support the various microgravity payloads and experiments. The international composition of the crew is depicted by symbols representing Canada and the European Space Agency. The number 42 is represented by six white stars --- four on one side of the orbiter and two on the other. The single gold star above Earth's horizon honors the memory of astronaut Manley L. (Sonny) Carter, who was killed eight months before the flight in a commuter plane crash. A crew spokesperson stated that Carter "...was our crewmate, colleague and friend." Blue letters set against silver give the surnames of the five astronauts and two payload specialists for the flight.

The First Design

The picture on the left shows a detail on Bill Readdy's flightsuit, as seen in December 1998. The suit has two STS-42 patches sewn on top of eachother: the final design showing the name "Hilmers" and the first design showing the name "Carter", as is visible in the computer enhancement just below the picture. In the center is a scan of an STS-42 "Carter patch", as sold on eBay in May 2001. This is a crew evaluation version by AB Emblem (see scan at right), of which probably only 100 or so were produced.

Above the final version of the STS-42 Carter patch, as sold on e-bay in 2006.

Astronaut Bill Readdy tells the story...

..."As you know Sonny was originally assigned to STS-42. He and I designed the patch. (Sonny was always a fan of silver metallic thread on patches). Some patches were made before he was killed and they were given to his family, a few of his close friends and the crew in his memory. The STS-42 patch was then redesigned with Hilmers on it and a gold star representing Sonny just below the IML-1. I don't think any were ever distributed outside"...

Thanks to David Fowler for providing this information

Tribute to Sonny Carter

At 8:23 p.m. CST January 27, 1992, the following tribute to Manley L.
"Sonny" Carter Jr. who died 4/5/91 in a commercial airliner crash,
was read by two members of the crew of STS-42, the mission on
which he was to have flown:

CDR RON GRABE:      The late Captain Manley L. Carter -- or
                    Sonny as we all knew him -- was a member of
                    our crew until his tragic death. The gold star
                    shining brightly on our crew patch represents
                    the way we will always remember Sonny, -- a
                    radiant figure, illuminating everyone who met
                    him with his warmth, charm and love. His
                    multitude of talents and incomparable joy for
                    life will never be forgotten.

MS DAVE HILMERS:    Sonny shared with us the unique experience
                    of glimpsing the splendor of Earth from space.
                    And for a precious few days the exhilaration
                    of being liberated from the bondage of
                    gravity. No one ever returned from a flight
                    with a greater sense of awe and wonder than
                    Sonny.  He was convinced that it was vital
                    for our country and for the generations which
                    will follow us to maintain a manned presence
                    in space. And no one ever worked harder to
                    make a flight a success than Sonny after he
                    was assigned to IML-1. We can only hope that
                    he would have been proud of the way that we
                    have carried on this mission after him.

GRABE:              Houston. Thanks for letting us take this
                    moment to remember Sonny.

CAPCOM RHEA SEDDON: Ron, all of us who knew Sonny echo your
                    sentiments and thank you for those memories of

Collecting STS-42

The Randy Hunt souvenir Carter patch.