NASA’s mission patches have held a symbolic place in history for decades. Before astronauts Gordon Cooper and Pete Conrad launched the Gemini 5 mission, NASA had just recently abolished the practice of nicknaming capsules and space shuttles. In lieu of nicknames, Cooper decided to get creative and design an embroidered patch for himself and Conrad that featured their names, a covered wagon, and the slogan “8 Days or Bust” (which is how long the mission was projected to last). Since that fateful launch in 1965, patches have been used widely throughout NASA, all the way up to the Center for the Advancement of Science (CASIS) in Space’s National Laboratory aboard the International Space Station.
The patches are generally distributed to astronauts and other engineers working on the mission, but since NASA’s work on the ISS is ongoing, the National Lab’s patches come annually. This year, NASA teamed up with Marvel in order to create what they believed was the perfect patch for the mission: the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Rocket and Groot will adorn the patches this year, their eyes on the stars as they observe the ISS overhead. The pair, known best for their witty banter and strong bond in both the comics and on the big screen, are often at their best when they’re together, and the patch reflects that well. It was unveiled today at San Diego Comic Con by CASIS’ Patrick O’Neill, who says that Rocket and Groot’s combined “space-based” background reflected the knowledgeable team aboard the ISS now. Astronauts aboard the ISS itself has been receiving patches since 2013, with designs by Seth Green adorning the patches last year.
Designed by artist Juan Doe, the patches are only the first thing that Rocket and Groot will be participating in when it comes to NASA. During the panel, a new “stem initiative” was announced involving the characters, but what it is exactly remains a mystery.