With the 46th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing earlier this week, along with the recent Pluto flyby and the Philae comet lander, interest in space exploration has skyrocketed (pun fully intended) in the past few months. NASA, the European Space Agency, SpaceX and other space exploration organizations create unique space patches for each mission they launch. At TJM, we’ve made a few of these patches, and we admire a great many others. Because mission patches usually feature unique artwork, we thought we’d take a look at some of the famous ones.
Let’s begin with a space patch we made right here at TJM. We made this patch for the Hughes-Fulford Laboratory in San Francisco. One of their research projects was scheduled to launch to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX rocket, and they wanted a patch to commemorate the event. The patch features the name of scientists and the name of the project, as well as the SpaceX rocket itself. We loved making this patch, and we even got to interview one of the Hughes-Fulford Laboratory scientists!
This space patch was for the first NASA space shuttle mission in 1981. Titled STS-1 and only carrying a two-man crew, this flight was essentially a test flight for the shuttle. The flight lasted for a total of only two days, but it paved the way for many more shuttle missions.
The first American space patch, this one was for the Gemini 5 mission. Early astronauts wanted to name their capsules, but NASA leadership vetoed the idea. Instead, the Gemini 5 astronauts decided to create a unique patch to commemorate their mission. This patch originally included the slogan “8 Days or Bust” before it was removed at the insistence of a NASA administrator.
The space patch for STS-51-L, the tragic Challenger mission that exploded in January 1986. This was the mission with Christa McAuliffe, a teacher who had won a national contest to be on a shuttle mission. After the tragedy, memorial patches were created to commemorate the seven astronauts who lost their lives.
Probably the most iconic of all the space patches. Apollo 11 carried the astronauts who first walked on the moon. The lunar module was named “Eagle”, and the artwork of the patch reflected that name.
At TJM, we enjoy seeing all the different designs for space patches almost as much as we enjoy designing them. There are already so many creative and unique patches out there, and we can’t wait to see what people come up with in the future. Who knows what the first Mars landing mission patch will look like? Or the space patch of the first manned Pluto mission? We can’t wait to find out!
All images/artwork except Hughes-Fulford Laboratory patch courtesy of History.NASA.gov