The NMU flag that went to space

Flag in spaceDr. Jerry Linenger is an astronaut that was born in Mt. Clemens, Mich. When he went into space for the first time he took many items from Michigan with him. However, he did not take anything from the U.P. and he was given a friendly, hard time by his U.P. friends for it. On his second trip he made sure to bring something from here along.

On Sept. 9, 1996, Linenger contacted NMU President William Vandament about taking an object from Northern into space. Vandament assigned University Historian Dr. Russell Magnaghi to this task, and it was a difficult one to be sure; it needed to be small, durable and fully representative of NMU.

As luck would have it, Magnaghi happened upon a 1962 proposal to the State Board of Education for a college flag, which was approved but never actually created. Along with this proposal was a preliminary flag design by Kevin Shard, an instructor at NMU in the 1960s. Dr. Magnaghi was able to get in touch with Shard and they ironed out a working design.

One small version of the flag was produced in 1996 for the space mission. It was flown on the Space Shuttle Atlantis and the MIR Space Station for a total of 132 days, 4 hours, 1 minute and circled the earth approximately 2,000 times. Linenger signed the flag while on the Space Station MIR. It is the only official NMU flag known to exist.

The flag is currently housed in the Beaumier Heritage Center storage, off display.


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