What Do Certain NASA Pins Symbolize?

Since NASA first launched over 50 years ago, it has found a special way to commemorate missions and honor its astronauts by providing them with specialized pins signifying the important work that they have achieved.  Since then, many of NASA’s pins are highly recognizable, and NASA enthusiasts with an appreciation for history are capable of telling you what each pin represents specifically.

Nowadays, replica NASA pins are considered valuable pieces of memorabilia, and they allow us to feel, even if just for a second, like we are stepping into the shoes of our heroes who travel far into space in order to tell us more about our Solar System.  With NASA pins being collectors’ items, we decided to give you some insight into the most recognizable and highly coveted ones in the history of this organization.

Mercury 7 Pin

In 1959, the first of NASA’s astronauts were launched into space in order to complete perhaps the most important space mission of all time: determining whether or not humans could safely and effectively survive in space.  These seven astronauts were extraordinarily brave in that they willingly entered the spacecraft without knowing whether or not they would survive.  As we know, they did survive, and thanks to their courage, NASA has been able to accomplish many missions utilizing astronauts within its spacecrafts. 

Those brave seven astronauts were honored with a specially designed pin by NASA.  The pin is a unique design that combines Mercury’s symbol with the number 7.  A rather unassuming design, it was intended to be worn on the lapel of a suit.

First Astronaut Pin

Before 1963, NASA continued to launch several astronauts into space to fulfill important early missions.  In 1961, the United States Military came up with a pin design to honor every astronaut to set foot into space.  The first to receive this pin were the Mercury 7, who were members of the military when they took on the mission.  The pin uses a wing design with a star at its center.

Universal Silver Astronaut Pin

After 1963, space travel became more common, and NASA came up with a new design to give out to astronauts who completed missions.  The new design, which is still in use today, resembles a vertically shooting star with a ring around its base.  This symbol is now one of the most recognizable of all within NASA and represents great prestige.  It’s made from high-quality metal and does not have any affiliation with the United States military, as did its prior design.  This was due to the separation between NASA and the United States military.

Gold and Diamond Pin

One of the most spectacular pin designs of all is simply referred to as the “Gold and Diamond Pin.”  Deke Slayton had intended on joining the Mercury 7, but at the last minute, he was forbidden from taking part on medical grounds.  To honor him, the wives of the Apollo crew presented him with a specially designed pin in 1967.  It featured the same design as the universal silver astronaut pin, only made with gold and featuring a diamond at the top.  This exact pin then traveled to the moon along with Neil Armstrong. 

Wearing That NASA Pin Proudly

As you can see, the history of NASA can be enjoyed through its series of pins distributed to the brave astronauts who undertook important missions to bring data back to Earth.  These pins each symbolize something very specific and significant during NASA’s extraordinary history.  And, to the delight of NASA enthusiasts all over the world, it’s fairly easy to come across replicas of these pins, allowing us to own a piece of NASA history that can be worn with pride.

  • Jan 25, 2020
  • Category: Blog
  • Comment: 1
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Pamela Laenger Hollifield February 26, 2020

Hi Y’all !
I’m hoping you can help me. I’ve tried contacting Robert Perlman (sp) regarding an article that I wish to sell but I need to know it’s value first. It’s the Mission Control Console Handbook for John Glenn’s return to flight (STS-95). It’s been signed by Senator Glenn and the rest of the crew. As an added bonus, it also has signatures from folks that worked console, several scientists, and Annie Glenn too. I would appreciate any help y’all could possibly provide. Thank you!

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