This uniform in the center of this image belonged to one of the unsung heroes of the Space Shuttle Program – Travis Thompson, former Closeout Crew Lead.
The closeout crew was responsible for assisting the astronauts to strap into the shuttle’s crew module and take care of any other last-minute needs that arose. Ultimately, they close and seal the crew access hatch and leave the astronauts behind before they launch into space.
On July 9, 2021, Thompson, who served for nearly 100 missions, and Deputy Administrator and former shuttle commander Pamela Melroy met to view his uniform at its exhibit in the National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA. Melroy presented him with a plaque for the occasion and surprised him by showing him she had kept the gift he gave to her many years ago. It was an emotional moment that celebrated not just the heroes who venture out into space but also the heroes who make sure they get there safely and come back home to us.
Image Credit: NASA/Taylor Mickal