When I first heard of the NASA employee patch design contest to commemorate the end of the shuttle program later this year, I was really excited to see what people would come up with. I’ve always loved patch designs — the layers of meaning and symbolism, and that the patch is team-designed, allowing the people involved to incorporate personal touches (and in-jokes, at times.) For this contest, 85 design concepts were submitted in all, and I had great fun before Christmas checking them all out. I definitely had my favorites.
15 finalists were selected on January 4, and while I agree with some of the picks (they were some of my favorites as well; more on that below), there were two designs I am really surprised to NOT see in the final 15. I’m featuring these two designs as an “editor’s choice” of sorts. Because… why not? It’s my blog, and these artists deserve a shoutout!
I guess I should disclose that I know the artist behind this patch — but really, I think this is a standout design because of its simplicity. There aren’t any words on the patch, but it doesn’t need any. In my opinion, this design expresses everything about the Shuttle program, commemorates the astronauts that fell along the way, and highlights the major achievements, all without “saying” a word. It’s beautifully done.
Here’s the artist-supplied caption:
The five orbiters shown represent Columbia, Challenger, Atlantis, Discovery, and Endeavour. The fourteen stars are to represent each of those who lost their lives on shuttle missions, with one of the stars having six points like a Star of David, in honor of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon (as was seen in the STS-107 patch). Also shown is the earth, because the shuttle was bound to low earth orbit. Finally, two of the shuttle program’s greatest and most recognizable accomplishments are represented- the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope.
I felt that each of the orbiters should be shown as they were all so important to the program. As someone that works on them, each seems to have its own personality, in a way. In commemorating the program, I wanted to honor the fallen astronauts. Let us never forget them and what we learned from losing them. I also thought it was important to include two shining examples of what was accomplished by the shuttle program: the International Space Station for the amazing science that has been and continues to be performed there, and the Hubble Space Telescope for bringing the heavens so much closer to earth in crisp, clear images.
And my other pick is this one:
What immediately drew me to this patch is how different it looks. The colors aren’t typical (compared to the other entries), and the design is very unique — it incorporates a sundial motif, which gives it extra awesome points in my opinion. I think the text is fantastic, I love the navy and gold, and I like the symbolism:
The concept is simple–remember life at every hour. The patch commemorates the life of the orbiter and the lives of those astronauts lost onboard Challenger and Columbia. Through life, memories are made, and the success of the Space Shuttle Program is remembered.
In graphic form, the patch is a sundial. The years 1981 (the first shuttle launch) and 2010 (the last) are fitted at the two edges. The space shuttle orbiter is shown as a blueprint–the beginning–embarking on a journey into a sunset–the end. The two gold shuttles flanking the patch represent Challenger (1986) and Columbia (2003). And the seven stars represent the crew of seven from those two flights. The center star is slightly larger to accentuate the center of the sundial. The shuttle is the main object of the sundial (the tail being the gnomon) and it pulls the seven stars forward as it flies. However, the shuttle does not cast a shadow in the design–its legacy is vivid. And the last element of the patch sums up the overall concept with the Latin verse, Tempus omnia sed memorias privat–time deprives all but memories.
That last bit bolded by me, because I like it.
As for my favorites from the 15 finalists, here’s the ones I think are particularly strong (the last one is my favorite):