Collage by NASA Astronaut and AFSer Cady Coleman. Courtesy of the Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs.

Since the beginning, AFS has been a risk-taking organization that transcends borders, but did you know AFS has even transcended the boundaries of Earth on more than one occasion? This month, following the solar eclipse that was visible to the United States, northern Canada, northern South America, northwestern Europe and Africa, and the Chukchi Peninsula in Asia in late August, the staff of the AFS Archives would like to highlight a few of AFS’s connections to space.

On March 1, 1986, the AFS Houston Weekend Ceremonies were held at the NASA Johnson Space Center to honor AFSer Major Brian O’Connor. O’Connor was pilot of the shuttle Atlantis in November 1985, and proudly carried the AFS flag into space. With Southeast Texas Area AFS students and their host families in attendance, the flag from the Atlantis mission was given to AFS.

However, the Atlantis Mission in November 1985 would not be the last time an AFSer would transcend the atmosphere of our planet! The AFS Archives is also home to a collage signed by NASA Astronaut Cady Coleman, another AFSer to explore space. Coleman took an AFS flag aboard the space shuttle Columbia STS-73 during the second United States Microgravity Mission between October 20 and November 5, 1995. The Columbia completed 256 orbits and traveled 6.6 million miles during the sixteen day mission. Coleman presented the collage to AFS, writing, “Thanks for giving me a great start on my tour of the world!”