On June 16, 1963, Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first person who wore the world's first Mission Patch. This record was surprisingly unknown by many; possibly overshadowed by her pioneering achievement of being the first woman in space, or perhaps it was simply hidden from sight.
Underneath the re-tailored orange spacesuit once worn by Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space. Valentina wore a sky blue thermal flight suit with the world's first Space Mission Patch sewn on the left shoulder.
Design for the launch of Vostok 6, the patch depicted a small flying white dove clutching an olive branch with golden sun rays as the backdrop. Valentina flew under the call sign "Seagull" (in Russian "Чайка" or "Chayka")
After her launch, she radioed down ‘It is I, Seagull! Everything is fine. I see the horizon; it's a sky blue with a dark stripe. How beautiful the Earth is ... everything is going well.’
Since only a few patches were made, for decades, the few ways to see them were at Zvezda, the company that produced it or at Zhukovsky Air and Space Museum in Moscow where they display the her training suit. Though Russian companies have produced space patches commercially in small quantities for years, it mysteriously took over 50 years for a replica of Tereshkova's mission patch to turned up.
Other Mission Patches
Though the Soviet Union was first to create Space Mission Patch in 1963, it wasn’t widely used till the mid-1980s. NASA, on the other hand, love the idea and since 1965 had dedicated design for each space missions.
The astronaut crews on each mission are in charge of designing own their team’s mission patch. Unlike the expedition to the International Space Station (ISS) astronauts have to wear two patches as opposed to just one. This is because ISS crews overlap. Astronauts travel to the ISS in groups of three and join a crew of three other astronauts already aboard. These six astronauts form the Expedition and are represented by a mission patch. About halfway through their time aboard the ISS, half the crew departs. The remaining three are joined by another crew of astronauts, forming a new Expedition and requiring a second patch.
Sally Ride's Mission Patch
The patch worn by the first Female American Astronaut, Sally Ride was STS-7 patch.
‘The patch's design incorporates the shuttle's large robotic "arm" bent in the shape of a seven, signifying the mission number. The starburst below the shuttle uses gender symbols, four male and one female, to create a five-pointed star representing the crew members. The first photograph of a shuttle in orbit was taken during STS-7, and Ride, along with another crew member specially trained to operate the robotic arm, arranged for the arm to be seen in the photograph in the shape of a seven, as it appeared on the patch.’ - NASA
Woody the Woodpecker
One of the unusual mission patch was the alternate version of the official STS-70. It features Woody the Woodpecker in honor of the woodpecker that drilled 71 holes of 4 inches wide on the external tank of space shuttle STS-70. The damage to the insulation was so extensive that the launch was delayed several weeks for repairs.
It was a pity that the revised woodpecker patches weren't flown on STS-70 as it wasn't produced in time for the launch.
W’menswear Space Flight Jacket
Attached on the right sleeve of the limited edition W’menswear Space Flight Jacket is the STS-34 Mission Patch from 1989.
'The triangular shape of the STS-34 crew patch represents forward motion and entering into new frontiers of science, engineering and technology. The Galileo spacecraft overlaying the orbiter symbolizes the joining together of both manned and unmanned space programs to maximize the capabilities of each. The crew members, who designed the patch, use a sunrise stretching across Earth's horizon to depict the expansion of our knowledge of the solar system and other worlds, leading to a better understanding of our planet. In the distance, Jupiter, a unique world with many unknowns, awaits the arrival of Galileo to help unlock its secrets. Meanwhile, the Space Shuttle remains in Earth- orbit, continuing to explore the near-Earth environment.’ - NASA
Even till today astronauts are pilots from a military background. The came about of Space Mission Patch is no mystery and is only fitting that the long tradition of military patches is carried over to space exploration.
W'menswear Editorial Photos by Eric Kvatek
Words by Buranee Soh