4
| Science |

A North Texas Family Has Sent Roses for Every NASA Space Flight Since 1988

^
Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

It took more than two years following the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986 for NASA to launch its next manned space flight. Shortly before it returned to earth, a bouquet of roses arrived at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"I didn't actually decide to do it until the day the STS-26 mission was to land, and I didn't know that I even could get it done in time," Mark Shelton, who sent the flowers on behalf of his Dallas-area family, later told NASA. "I called information to find a florist near the space center, and then I asked the florist if they could deliver roses to Mission Control. At first they said they couldn't do it ... but then they said they would try. But I had no idea if they actually made it or not."

Since then, the Sheltons have been more prompt, making sure the flowers -- a colored rose for each astronaut on the mission, one white one to commemorate those who have died -- arrive before each of the 110-plus NASA-led space flights have launched. The upcoming launch of Expedition 39/40 is no different.

Some things have changed over the years. The space shuttle program has ended; Mackenzie, 3 when her father first took her to the Johnson Space Center, has grown up and married; Mark no longer has the righteous beard he sported when the family toured mission control in 1990. But the flowers have remained a ritual, so much so that, in NASA's words, "it would not be a space shuttle mission without these roses arriving."

With each bouquet comes a note.

"The handprints and heartprints of so many touch every surface, every moment," the Shelton family wrote in 2011. "Thank you all for sharing it all, the glory and the unspeakable pain, a grateful planet. Godspeed, godspeed, godspeed."

(h/t Mashable)

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.