The Stories Behind Some of our Favourite NASA Patches

Born in 1958 as a result of serious beef with the Soviet Union, NASA have achieved some pretty rad shit, including, the Apollo Moon Landings, Skylab and undoubtedly their most impressive contribution to humanity – the super soaker water pistol. What I like most about NASA is they spent time and energy on the important things, like, space travel stuff, rather than hiring fancy graphic designers to create their patches.

I like to think of the design process consisting of a young intern, scrabbling over their desk, beads of brow sweat drip onto the paper as they attempt to illustrate a patch concept while a bunch of engineers and astronauts spitball ideas.

“It needs to have the american flag in it.”

“With a rocket”

“And a horse”

“or an eagle!”

“add more flames!!”

“Make it pop.”

I digress. The patches are epic and according to the excerpts from NASA’s website, the designs actually had a lot of thought put into them, or at least, they put a lot of thought into analysing it after the intense brainstorm sessions.  

We have picked a handful of patches out of the 150+ designed over the past 50 years. There are so many epic patches and even more insane stories behind them. Here are a few. 

2012

WORF Patch

I like to imagine this was designed by a massive Wayne’s World fan and thought to create a fanfiction style space Wayne’s world sequel design. Unlikely, yet the fanfiction part isn’t far from the truth.

“At the top of the patch Klingon script spells out the acronym WORF making reference to the famed Star Trek character of the same name.”

“The “flying eyeball” represents the ability of the ISS to allow scientists and astronauts to make and record continuous observations of natural and manmade processes on the surface of the Earth.”

But my favourite part of this patch is the dude flying upside down without a helmet on. 

“…depicted as Star Trek’s Mr. Spock in his flight suit with his STS-44 mission patch operating an imaging instrument, emphasizing the importance of astronaut participation to achieve the maximum scientific return from orbital research.”

1995

STS-63 crew patch

This patch was again designed by it’s crew members but this time it was a little different.

THis was the 20th mission for Discovery and was the first time a space shuttle had a female pilot on board, Eileen Collins and a US astronaut of African heritage, Bernard A. Harris, Jr.

And if that wasn’t enough, Coca-Cola got involved. In cooperation with the University of Colorado, Boulder, Coca-Cola helped develop the Fluids Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus-1. It dispensed pre-mixed soda for astronauts’ consumption which was used to study the changed taste perceptions of coke in space. The astronauts rated control samples before and after flight.

“Developing technology to accomplish these objectives in microgravity may likely evolve into terrestrial applications that could further the long-range research and development objectives of The Coca- Cola Company.”

Nothing quenches the thirst of interplanetary travel like a coke.

(That should be their new slogan. Coca-cola, HMU for copywriting work.)

1993

STS-62 crew patch

This is more of a glorified plane than a rocket ship. Wait, do they even call them rocket ships? Or is that a Hollywood term? Well, this rocketship/spaceship/space shuttle had one hell of a trip. You can read the whole experience on Wikipedia and the discovery channel filmed the landing for its 1994 special about the Space Shuttle Program. You can even watch it on Youtube here: The Space Shuttle (1994).

Astronaut Marsha Ivins with thermal imaging project on flight deck

The STS-62 insignia was designed by fine art painter, Mark Pestana .

S.A.F.E.R. Flight Test
During the STS-64 mission, an astronaut performed an Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) to test a new maneuvering unit called the Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER). This unit is mounted on the backpack to be used if an astronaut becomes detached from the International Space Station. Original Painting (24 x 36) $850. Check out his work here: pestanafineart.wordpress.com

Oh and I forgot to mention,  you can buy some of the NASA patches from the NASA website here.

 

 

Live Long and Prosper.

 

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