Future Proof

A living archive

Just because an archive records moments in history doesn’t mean it stands still. And the FASE archive is no exception. 

Since discovering the original collection of photography and other artefacts, the archive has continued to grow as more people donate to it, or additional items are collected by its Director, Alastair Fairley.

One of our most exciting acquisitions is a series of signed photographs from two modern-day NASA astronauts, the husband and wife team of Shannon Walker and Andy Thomas.

Physicist Shannon Walker went into space twice, first as back up Commander for Expedition 22 to the International Space Station, and then as Flight Engineer on the crew of Expedition 25 in 2010. Her husband, Andy Thomas has left our planet four times, launching in the Space Shuttle STS-77 in May 1996 and STS-89 two years later, before also visiting the International Space Station on STS-102 in 2001 and STS-114 four years later. In total he has spent some 177 days in space.

One of their more unusual assignments, however, was to be guests of honour at a flag unveiling of the historic Mary Rose warship, the Tudor flagship of Henry VIII now housed in its own museum at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in South East England. In 2011, a wooden ball from the sailing mechanism for the Mary Rose was blasted into space on the Space Shuttle Endeavour so, to celebrate, the Trust restoring the historic ship invited the astronauts to mark the occasion and unveil the flag.

FASE Director Alastair Fairley met the astronauts in his role supporting the UK’s heritage as a Committee Member for the South East of the Heritage Lottery Fund, which was financially assisting the construction of the museum.

“I couldn’t resist keeping up the tradition my father had set, asking both Andy Thomas and Shannon Walker to sign a number of photographs I had produced of the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station,” he says. “They were very gracious and delighted to hear of the work we were doing to promote interest in space exploration through the FASE archive.”