Crew & Mission

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The Artwork

(S85-41917 - October 1985) --- Columbia, which opened the era of the Space Transportation System with four orbital flight tests, is featured in re-entry in the emblem designed by the STS-61-C crew to represent the sever team members who will man the vehicle for its seventh STS mission later this year. Golf lettering against black background honors the astronaut crewmembers on the delta pattern surrounding colorful re-entry shock waves, and the payload specialists are honored similarly below the sphere. Representations of the U.S. flag and the constellation Draco flank the emblem's core.

..."Each separate shuttle crew--in fact, all the crews, all the way back through the Apollo missions-- had had their own crew badge. This embroidered patch was not only to be worn on the chest of all our outer uniforms, but it was the official signet of our flight. Our particular patch was designed by Hoot (Gibson) after input from the other NASA crew members. For some reason that escaped us all, George Abbey(*) wanted a picture of a dragon to appear on the patch. None of the crew members felt a dragon was appropriate. Instead, the patch showed the COLUMBIA in a nose-up position with shock waves coming off the nose as it reentered earth's atmosphere. In addition to the Stars and Stripes, the astronauts decided to include the constellation Draco in the background. Pinky Nelson, who has a doctorate in astronomy, joked "that's as close as we can come to George's dragon."...

(*) George Abbey was the director of flight crew operations.

From: MISSION, An American Congressman's Voyage to Space. By U.S. Congressman Bill Nelson.

A Personal Story...

Who came up with the idea for the patch ?
"It was a collective (crew) effort to put them together".

Can you tell me something about the design proces, where you involved ?
"Yes we all were involved. Generally several iterations are done to highlight the mission and its major goals".

Who designed it, the crew or an artist ?
"Mostly the crew. On a couple of occations we consulted with an artist to gather some ideas".

Each patch reflects the mission, can you tell me more about the symbols on the patchs?
"The STS-61C patch shows the shuttle on re-entry. We wanted to highlight some of the re-entry testing being done on the orbiter Columbia during our mission".

Astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz, June 2001