An astronaut aboard the space shuttle Endeavour is carrying with him a Zion National Park commemorative coin, an expression, perhaps, that the park's red-rock landscape is other worldly.
Lieutenant Col. Robert Behnken and his wife, Megan McArthur, (who also happens to be an astronaut) are fans of Zion, and the lieutenant colonel asked park officials for something that symbolized the park that he could carry on his journey to the International Space Station.
The coin’s space journey marks the final official event in celebration of the national park's centennial. The Zion Centennial commemorative coin will be returned to the park at the conclusion of the mission and will become a permanent addition to the park’s museum collection, according to park officials.
While in space, Lt. Col. Behnken will also photograph Zion Canyon.
Space shuttle Endeavour lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday at 4:14 a.m. EST. During the 13-day flight, the STS-130 mission will deliver a third connecting module and a seven-windowed cupola to the space station. A series of three space walks, led by Lt. Col. Behnken, will attach the new additions to the space station. If viewing images from the space walks, Lt. Col. Behnken can be identified by the solid red stripes on his spacesuit. The mission’s progress and additional information can be obtained by accessing www.nasa.gov.