PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Drexel University held a launch party today for the final space shuttle mission.  The school has a special connection to the mission’s commander.

Except for a few anxious moments for a brief hold 30 seconds before liftoff (see related story) and then, more than a minute in, during the “go with throttle up” call (when the shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986), more than 100 students were exuberant as they watched a big screen television.

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Cheering as the shuttle blasted off, they wanted to pay homage to NASA’s final space shuttle voyage and Commander Chris Ferguson, who graduated from Drexel in 1984.

Graphic design students from Drexel created a set of mission patches to accompany Ferguson into space.  Jennifer Choy (below), who just graduated and celebrated her 22nd birthday, came up with an abstract outline of a shuttle with blue stars around it — one of the two official patches  for the mission.

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“When you think of a shuttle blasting off, that’s a powerful motion, and when you think of an astronaut in space, he’s holding in zero gravity, so that’s really elegant,” Choy told KYW Newsradio.

The second mission patch depicts an off-center, front view of the shuttle with plumes behind it.  A Drexel student took his inspiration from watching YouTube videos of the shuttle.

Students wore sticker versions of the mission patches.

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060; Dray Clark, CBS 3

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