A Journey to Space
An All Ohio Crew Mission Goes Down in History
March 16, 2021
Pioneers from many fields call Ohio home. One area in which Ohioans have made major contributions is spaceflight. According to NASA, 25 astronauts, including Neil Armstrong and John Glenn, hail from the Buckeye state. They account for 78 space flights, three trips to the moon and more than 22,000 hours in space. Pretty impressive, right? But, there is one particular mission that has major Ohio ties and a piece of it lives on at Imagination Station.
In 1995, Commander Terence Hendricks, Pilot Kevin Kregel and Mission Specialists Nancy Currie, Don Thomas and Mary Ellen Weber were preparing for their mission to space onboard the space shuttle Discovery. Like with many other launches, there was a lot of public anticipation and excitement.
For Ohioans, this was one that would go down in state history.
Four of the shuttle’s crewmembers - Currie, Hendricks, Thomas and Weber - were from Ohio. Recognizing the coincidence, then-Governor George Voinovich made the fifth crew member, Kregel, an honorary Ohio citizen making the STS-70 mission an all-Ohio mission. The crew spent eight days in orbit launching and deploying the seventh Tracking and Data Relay Satellite - the last in a series of a space-based satellite network that provides communications, tracking and command services essential to Shuttle and low-Earth orbital spacecraft missions.
So, what does Imagination Station have to do with the Space Shuttle Discovery?
Oftentimes, astronauts take items into space, like flags, football helmets, personal mementos, etc. In this case, the Discovery crew took one of Toledo’s ceremonial glass keys, and today, it's on display in the main concourse at Imagination Station. It's one of many nods to the all-Ohio flight. Toledo’s Science Center just happens to be located on 1 Discovery Way AND the facility’s newest attraction - the KeyBank Discovery Theater - also proudly bears the shuttle's name.