The Meaning of Mission Patches

Posted on Tue, November 7, 2017
  • by: Beth Wilson, Educator and Host of STEM in 30

When you think of an astronaut’s job description, art design may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, the astronaut crews on each mission are in charge of designing their team’s mission patch. Every expedition to the International Space Station (ISS) has a unique patch. Typically the designs feature the crew's names and visual elements that represent the mission.

Unlike other NASA missions, for trips to the ISS astronauts wear two patches as opposed to just one. This is because ISS crews overlap. Astronauts travel to the ISS in groups of three and join a crew of three other astronauts already aboard. These six astronauts form the Expedition, and are represented by a mission patch. About halfway through their time aboard the ISS, half the crew departs. The remaining three are joined by another crew of astronauts, forming a new Expedition and requiring a second patch.  For example, NASA astronaut Randy “Komrade” Bresnik wears the Expedition 52 and 53 mission patches.

How would you design your patch if you were headed to space? See the STEM in 30 team’s mission patch, then try making your own! 

What’s the meaning of those patches that astronauts wear? Astronaut Randy Bresnik has the answer. Also check out this ISS Science lesson for how to make your very own mission patch. 

Subject: History of Spaceflight and the International Space Station | Grade Level: 5-8 | Time: 30-50 Minutes

Lesson Plan: PDF iconDesign Your Own Mission Patch

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