Mission patches are more than collectibles – they are a long-standing tradition that tell the incredible story of human spaceflight. For decades, astronauts of every historic endeavor have been personally involved in designing these emblems, and the three new CST-100 Starliner flight test patches are no exception.
“The Starliner program represents many firsts for Boeing, so we wanted to make sure a mix of employees who have designed, built and tested the spacecraft could influence their look and feel,” said Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson.
Ferguson championed the development of the Orbital Flight Test, Pad Abort Test and Crew Flight Test patches. The design phase was a team sport with Starliner employees, Boeing Creative Services, and NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Mike Fincke and Eric Boe.
“Their shapes, colors and symbols were chosen to highlight each mission’s significance,” Ferguson said.
As an example, each of the three patches are five-sided, representing the spacecraft’s five phases of development, as well as the five available seats on service missions to the International Space Station. Be on the lookout for them to show up, along with other space merchandise, on the Boeing Store Space Shop.
Orbital Flight Test patch: Over the past half-century, Boeing has played an integral role in every U.S. human spaceflight program. The olive branch on this patch nods to that history as a reference to the Apollo 11 moon landing patch, and to NASA as the agency welcomes Boeing to the era of commercial human spaceflight services. With shades of blue representing our methodical steps to reach low Earth orbit, this patch was ultimately inspired by the image of Starliner first docking to the Boeing-built International Docking Adaptor attached to the International Space Station.
Pad Abort Test patch: Drawing inspiration from the scenic New Mexico desert where the test will take place, the varying colors of orange represent the steps we took to qualify the Starliner’s abort system, beginning at the component level and graduating to an integrated test level. The patch depicts the spacecraft’s four Launch Abort Engines, which would get the Starliner crew module and its passengers away from a dangerous situation while on the launch pad or through ascent. The sun represents the rise of a new age in human spaceflight that puts safety of crew members at the forefront of all we do.
Crew Flight Test patch: Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson, and NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Mike Fincke and Eric Boe, worked with Starliner employees from across the country to develop a patch that pays homage to the national importance of the Starliner program. The red vector coming off the sides of the spacecraft represents NASA’s insignia, known as the “meatball,” as a symbol of our collaboration with America’s space agency. The dark blue background represents low Earth orbit and the iconic Boeing blue hue. A yellow sunburst following the curvature of the Earth symbolizes the dawn of a new era in human spaceflight with the first orbital flight of a crewed commercial spacecraft. The full depiction of the International Space Station portrays the Starliner’s first destination in space.