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 Johnson Space Center's graphics department created some pretty cool (and kitschy) mission posters.
While some of the first posters created for the Space Flight Awareness 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 "Star Trek" poster, created for Expedition 21 in 2009, to Battlestar Galactica, Indiana Jones, the Matrix, Ocean's 11, and other science fiction favorites, NASA has certainly gotten creative with their shuttle promotions.
STS-135 movie poster
Atlantis' STS-135 will be the final mission of NASA's Space Shuttle program and is scheduled to launch on July 8.
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, launched in May 2011 with astronaut Mark Kelly acting as commander.
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.
Expedition 23 poster
Expedition 23 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on the Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft to the International Space Station in the spring of 2010.
Expedition 22 poster
Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi was in orbit as part of Expedition 22, a five-member team responsible for running the International Space Station, and tweeted images of his views 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, which flew 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," focusing on space medicine, biology, Earth observations, material production, biotechnology, and communications research.
STS-119, aboard the shuttle Discovery in March 2009, carried power-generating solar array wings to the International Space Station.
By the time the space shuttle came into use during the early 1980s as part of the Space Transportation System, 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), flew aboard the shuttle Endeavour in November 2008, and 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.
STS-132 took off for a visit to the International Space Station on May 14, 2010, with a payload consisting of the Russian Rassvet Mini-Research Module.
Upcoming mission STS-131, which flew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, took place in April 2010.
The mission's primary payload included the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, which was 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 2010, 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.
Expedition 20 poster
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.
Mission STS-133, launched on February 23, 2011, was the final flight for NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery. Headed by Commander Steven Lindsey, the mission was the 39th flight for Discovery, and delivered the Permanent Multipurpose Module Leonardo to the ISS, which was left permanently docked to one of the station's ports.
The shuttle also carried the third of four ExPRESS Logistics Carriers to the ISS, and the humanoid robot called Robonaut.
STS-127, launched on July 15, 2009, was the 23rd flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The primary purpose of the STS-127 mission was to deliver and install the final two components of the Japanese Experiment Module to the ISS, consisting of the Exposed Facility (JEM EF), and the Exposed Section of the Experiment Logistics Module (ELM-ES).
Expedition 16 poster
The Matrix-like movie poster for Expedition 16, which launched aboard Soyuz 15 on October 10, 2007, for the International Space Station.
Expedition 26 movie poster
The Expedition 26 mission poster, reminiscent of the Beatles' Abbey Road album cover, shows crew members Oleg Skripochka, Alexander Kaleri, Catherine Coleman, Dmitry Kondratyev, Paolo Nespoli, and Commander Scott Kelly. This mission landed in March 2011.
Expedition 27 movie poster
Expedition 27, which began on March 16, 2011, saw a few notable events, including the undocking of the Progress M-09M and Kounotori 2 spacecraft, the arrival of the Soyuz TMA-21 and Progress M-10M spacecraft, and the final rendezvous with the ISS of NASA's Space Shuttle Endeavour, on its last mission, STS-134.
Expedition 28 movie poster
Expedition 28, which began on March 23, 2011 arrived at the ISS on board the Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft on April 4.
At the time Expedition 28 began, Space Shuttle Endeavour was docked to the ISS on her final mission; the Expedition 28 crew will also be there as Atlantis undocks during her final mission this month.
Expedition 29 movie poster
The Tron-like poster for Expedition 29, which is planned for launch in September 2011.