By Ronald Bailey, SMDC/ARSTRATJune 19, 2019
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- U.S. Army astronaut Col. Andrew Morgan will not only make history in space, but take a piece of World War II Army history to space with him.
Morgan, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command's Astronaut Detachment commander, received the artifact, a combat medic's brassard, from Paul Morando, chief, Exhibits Division for the National Museum of the United States Army, May 30, at the Johnson Space Center, Texas.
An active duty Army medical doctor and NASA astronaut, Morgan has a deep family connection and personal love of World War II history. This passion for history, medicine, and his unique status as an Army NASA astronaut are set to combine in a very unique opportunity for the Army space, medical, and history enterprises. As a part of his personal allowance items, the artifact will launch to the International Space Station to join him for his nine-month mission in space.
"It's a great honor to take this with me to the International Space Station. It touches on a number of points that are of interest to me," said Morgan. "I'm a medical corps officer in the Army and deployed in combat so there is that connection, along with having two grandparents and a great uncle who fought in World War II."
Morgan is currently scheduled to launch July 20 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo XI lunar landing, to the ISS. Upon his return he will personally travel to the museum after it opens to install the brassard in its permanent display with other medical-artifacts in the "Army and Society Gallery."
When opened, the 185,000 square foot National Army Museum will portray more than 240 years of Army history and honor the service and sacrifice of more than 30 million men and women who have worn the U.S. Army uniform since 1775. The artifact now in Morgan's care will join a large collection of artifacts, artwork and materiel culture most of which have never before been seen by the public.
According to Morando, the "Army and Society Gallery" chronicles the symbiotic relationship between the Army, its civilian government, and the people. The gallery introduces visitors to the many Army advancements in medicine, aviation, communications and technology that helped shape American society, culture and economy.
"Interestingly, Col. Morgan's Army experiences, combined with his interest in history, represents the Army and Society Gallery storyline," observed Morando. "History, space, medicine - they're all here. This collaboration was a perfect match and the artifact's journey to space with Col. Morgan adds a personal connection to the National Army Museum."
The U.S. Army's deep involvement in the nation's space program and close work with NASA dates back to the launch in 1958 of Explorer 1, the United States' first satellite, and it was a U.S. Army rocket that carried the first U.S. astronaut into space. Over the years, 18 Army astronauts have been selected by NASA to fly aboard the Space Shuttle, Russian Soyuz spacecraft, and the International Space Station.