A good logo is instantly recognizable. Along the same vein, a NASA patch distinguishes space missions and their objectives. In this way, an astronaut's patch kind of tells a story.
It all began with the very first NASA patch. This patch features a blue background with stars and a space station. A red vector sweeps through the blue space and white letters spell out NASA across the center. Originally created in 1959, this has been the official patch for most of NASA's lifetime.
The first of the NASA space programs out of the gate was Mercury. The Mercury program was integral in securing America's place in the space race. Many of the patches created for the Mercury program feature images of a space capsule with the official Mercury program logo.
To get a man on the Moon, NASA had to develop a two-man spacecraft. This program was called Gemini and was an important step in landing a man on the Moon. Since the Gemini capsules were two-man crafts, the official Gemini patch featured a large Roman numeral 'II'.
The next major NASA program was the one that ultimately put a man on the moon. The official Apollo mission patch depicts the journey from Earth to the Moon on a dark blue background. A large 'A' lies in the center of the patch.
Apollo-Soyuz is the name given to the first joint American-Russian space program. This test program was meant to see if systems were compatible in case of a space rescue. Since this program consisted of an American Apollo craft docking with a Russian Soyuz craft, the mission patches feature both ship names and the image of the two crafts docked together.
In 1973, America launched their first space station called Skylab. The official NASA mission patches represent this achievement by featuring images of Skylab against the Earth. Every mission has its own patch, each one signaling what that missions objective was.
A series of unique patches were created for the space shuttle missions. These shuttle missions are some of the most well known missions in history. The patches for the shuttle missions feature a space shuttle either launching or orbiting through space.
To this day, NASA is creating patches for each of their missions. These patches are a way to commemorate great moments in history while feeling a little closer to the men and women who touched the stars.