Scottish Parliament space mission saltire flag lands with National Museums Scotland


A Saltire flag which usually has pride of place at Holyrood, but has been on a unique round trip journey into space, has today been gifted to National Museums Scotland by the Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson MSP.

The Scottish Parliament flag, taken on a supersonic mission by British-born NASA astronaut Nick Patrick in recognition of his support for the Careers Scotland Space School , will become part of Scotland ’s national collection.

The flag lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on 7 December 2006 on board Space Shuttle STS-116, for a 12-day construction and logistics mission to the International Space Station.

The mission was the first space flight for Mr Patrick who first began training as an astronaut in 1998.

Mr Patrick, whose mother is from Skye, was raised in north Yorkshire . As one of the NASA team that closely supports the Careers Scotland Space School , he contacted Careers Scotland with his request for a Scottish flag that had been flown at Holyrood.

Presiding Officer, Alex Fergusson MSP said:

"This flag has undertaken a journey that for most us will remain only a dream.

“It is a fitting end to that journey into space and back, to present this Saltire to National Museums Scotland . I hope that it will inspire future generations of young scientists and astronauts to strive to achieve their dreams."

The flag was presented to Jane Carmichael, Director of Collections, National Museums Scotland .

Jane Carmichael, Director of Collections, National Museums Scotland said:

 “We are delighted that the Scottish Parliament has chosen to gift us this important Saltire. National Museums Scotland has a proud history of working with and collecting items from the international space community and this flag will be a welcome addition to the national collections.”


  • National Museums Scotland is Scotland’s national museum service. Its wealth of treasures represent more than two centuries of collecting. Collections take in everything from Scottish and classical archaeology to decorative and applied arts; from world cultures and social history to science, technology and the natural world. It also provides advice, expertise and support to the museums' community across Scotland.
  • Careers Scotland Space School is supported by the Scottish Government and the International Space Community. The course seeks to inspire young Scots to pursue science related courses of study, and consider careers in science and technology.
  • Every year, 3,000 students from schools across Scotland participate in the programme through courses of distance learning that supplement their studies in Higher Grade Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. The learning modules are developed by Careers Scotland in conjunction with NASA scientists to support the Scottish curriculum.  
  • Around 50 young people are then selected to attend a ten day Space School in NASA’s Space Center in Houston , Texas . A further 120 students are chosen to attend a Summer School hosted by the University of Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow and attended by a team of NASA astronauts and scientists who are in Scotland to support Careers Scotland’s Festival of Science and Enterprise.  
  • The programme helps young people understand how science and technology can lead to exciting career choices and boosts their enthusiasm for the subject.


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