I have met people who do not believe Idaho is a real place. Others know it it is somewhere in flyover territory, but can not place it any better – “Isn’t that somewhere near Nebraska?” Mostly, people just think it is a backward place. Not true! Idaho has a space program and placed a satellite in orbit.

Spudnik - 1 Orbital Tuber

Spudnik – 1

The scientists and engineers at the Idaho Space Authority dubbed it the Idaho Geosynchronous Agriculture and Forest Fire Observation Tuber, or IGAFFOT for short. IGAFFOT does not exactly roll off the tongue so the governor sponsored a satellite naming contest among the state’s elementary school students. There were a number of suggestion including Tater Tot, but almost 99 percent of the students suggested Spudnik; and so it was.

During a television interview the director of the Idaho Space Authority explained that potatoes make wonderful observation platforms as they can be mass-produced locally and generally have several eyes. In addition, when the orbit decays the tuber is re-entry baked by friction with the atmosphere. All you need if you find one of these satellites after it comes down is butter, salt and pepper; with maybe a bit of sour cream.

I was able to obtain an example of the cloth mission patch:

Spudnik -1 Cloth Mission Patch

Spudnik -1 Cloth Mission Patch

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