Mission aviation hitches a ride on the Space Shuttle

Astronaut Patrick Forrester is taking a bit of missionary history onboard Space Shuttle “Discovery,” which is scheduled for liftoff from Kennedy Space Center Aug. 25.

377078main_pat-fit-m_800-600The item comes from martyred missionary pilot Nate Saint’s Piper PA-14, which is on display at the headquarters of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) in Nampa, Idaho. Saint and four other missionaries were murdered on a sandbar in Ecuador on Jan. 8, 1956, by a tribe of Waodani Indians.’

The incident sparked international news coverage and renewed interest in missionary service. Several of the tribesmen were later converted to Christianity by relatives of the slain missionaries.

The piece is from the Piper’s battery box and has received approval for the flight from NASA after conforming to strict size and weight restrictions.003449a-HQ-PDND-Personnel-NateSaint

Forrester, who will be making his third shuttle flight, has logged more than 4,500 hours in more than 50 different aircraft and has been with NASA 16 years. In addition to his time at NASA, he spent over 26 years as an Army aviator.

“I’ve always had a heart for missions,” Forrester said. “When I visualize what I might do after I end my career at NASA, always in the back of my mind is going into the mission field in some way. If I could go tomorrow and be a pilot with an organization like MAF, I think that’s what I’d do.”

Forrester asked MAF to provide a part of Saint’s plane for the shuttle mission. When the mission is completed, he will return the piece to MAF, providing a certificate confirming its presence on the space flight. MAF plans to display the battery box part and certificate at its headquarters. Forrester noted that Saint “could have never imagined that we would have the opportunity to take it to a space station.”

For more information: NASA.gov or MAF.org.

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