MD Anderson's international reputation for fighting cancer helped launch a piece of the institution to the International Space Station earlier this year. NASA Astronaut Tim Kopra, an Austin, Texas, native, was assigned to fly to the space station aboard STS-133, the historic final mission of space shuttle Discovery. Prior to the mission, he had a tough decision to make. "We have the opportunity as astronauts to fly items from different organizations," says Kopra, who had lost his father, a University of Texas professor for 35 years, to cancer. "I wanted to find an organization that I thought really represented excellence in terms of our ability to fight this dreaded disease." With the price of each ounce of cargo launched into space at a premium, Kopra was limited to flying 10 small items. He chose a piece of Georgia pink Etowah marble from MD Anderson's original fa?ade. But due to the size of the marble, he was only allowed to pack one additional item for his mission. Then, just days before launch, Kopra was injured in a bicycle accident and scrubbed from the mission. The marble left Earth without him and traveled more than 5 million miles in space. Kopra proudly returned the historic piece of marble to MD Anderson to serve as inspiration in the mission to fight cancer on April 19 for display in the institutional awards display case in the Main Building, Floor 1, near The Fountain.
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