Astronauts often aim for the stars, but it's rare that they get to play them.
However, for every space shuttle mission since STS-96 in 1999, which was the first time a U.S. shuttle docked with the International Space Station, the Kennedy Space Center's graphics department has been creating some pretty cool (and kitschy) mission posters.
While some of the first posters created for the Space Flight Awareness (SFA) program were a bit drab, the series has evolved into artworks that depict the mission crews in the sleek style of Hollywood movie posters.
With classic film references ranging from this Expedition 21 Star Trek poster to Battlestar Galactica, Indiana Jones, the Matrix, Ocean's 11, and other science fiction favorites, NASA is certainly getting creative with their shuttle promotions.
Following the Mercury (1959-1963)and Gemini programs (1965-1966), NASA worked to infuse the space program with a renewed and strengthened consciousness of quality and flight safety and grew toward the goal of enhancing employee motivation within the NASA organization.
This mission, STS-134, has a target launch date of July 29 and will be the 35th shuttle mission to the International Space Station.
This Ocean's 11-themed poster was created for Atlantis' mission STS-125, which had astronauts repairing and upgrading the Hubble Space Telescope and conducting five spacewalks during their mission to extend the lifespan of the telescope until at least 2014. Astronauts installed two new instruments, replaced gyroscopes and batteries, and added new thermal insulation panels.
Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi was in orbit as part of Expedition 22, a five-member team responsible for running the International Space Station, and has been tweeting images of his view from space.
The Las Vegas-themed poster for the expedition, seen here, references the Rat Pack, the group of 1950s Hollywood actors that included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop.
Mission STS-124 aboard Discovery in May and June of 2008 was the second of three flights that delivered components to the ISS that were used to complete the Japanese Experiment Model known as "Kibo," which focuses on space medicine, biology, Earth observations, material production, biotechnology, and communications research.
By the time the space shuttle came into use during the early 1980s as part of the Space Transportation System (STS), the Space Flight Awareness Program had grown to encompass many motivational and branding vehicles, including films and publications, and an array of pins, buttons, banners, decals, and posters.
STS-126 (poster pictured here) aboard the shuttle Endeavour in November 2008, delivered equipment to the International Space Station that would enable larger crews to reside aboard it, as well as new exercise equipment and equipment for the regenerative life-support system.
Upcoming mission STS-131 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery is targeted for a launch date of April 5.
The mission's primary payload is scheduled to be the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, which will be filled with food and science supplies for the International Space Station, in addition to a Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer, Window Orbital Research Facility, Crew Quarters Rack, and Muscle Atrophy Resistive Exercise Rack.
STS-130, completed in February, was the 32nd shuttle mission to the ISS. Endeavour delivered a third connecting module, the Tranquility node, to the space station and a seven-windowed cupola to be used as a control room for robotics. The mission also featured three spacewalks.
During Expedition 20 in May 2009, Koichi Wakata, who flew to the ISS on STS-119 and served as flight engineer for Expeditions 18, 19, and 20, performed an experiment where he did not change his specially designed underpants for the duration of the month-long mission in order to test their odor-repelling properties. He returned to Earth on STS-127 on July 31, 2009.
Commander Charlie Hobaugh led the STS-129 mission to the International Space Station aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis, a mission that featured three spacewalks and delivered parts to the space station, including a spare gyroscope.