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A-B Emblem is the official supplier of all NASA mission patches. NASA patches are by far some of the most recognized and celebrated embroidered insignia in American history. With a long-standing relationship spanning over 50 years, A-B Emblem has been designing and producing the US Space Program patches for NASA since the "Meatball" in 1961, and sending them into space since Apollo 14 in 1971.
As the official contractor to NASA for the creation of NASA patches, A-B Emblem has provided mission and special patches to the astronauts for the entire Space Shuttle Program. Beginning in 1981, and including all missions of the shuttle fleet – Atlantis, Discovery, Endeavor, Challenger, and Columbia – A-B Emblem has proudly remained the official supplier, providing mission identification to the many shuttle astronauts, until the last mission STS-135 in 2011.
The International Space Station was developed in a global collaborative effort to establish a laboratory, observatory and factory in low Earth orbit. The ISS has provided, since its first resident crew, Expedition 1 in November 2000, a safe space environment in which to conduct scientific research and test spacecraft systems for future missions, as well as many educational opportunities for students on Earth. Expedition 1 was the first long-term stay on the ISS, with the three member crew staying 136 days, beginning a new era of uninterrupted human presence in space. Each Expedition has been identified and commemorated with its own mission patch, which A-B Emblem still proudly stitches in its North Carolina factory.
During the long reign of the Space Shuttle as our means to explore space and learn about life on our planet and in our solar system, there were occasions to commemorate an achievement or tragedy. From the 20th anniversary, the 25th, the 30th, the 100th mission, the first teacher in space, John Glenn's amazing return to space, the tragedy of STS-107, to the Final Mission and the journeys to their resting locations, these A-B Emblem patches have the history of the shuttles immortalized in embroidery.
Initiated in 1958 by the newly created space agency, NASA, Project Mercury was the United States' first man-in-space program. The objectives of the program, which made six manned flights from 1961 to 1963, were specific: to orbit a manned spacecraft around Earth, to investigate man's ability to function in space, and to recover both man and spacecraft safely. In 1961 Alan Shepard became the first American in suborbital flight in space, followed by John Glenn, the first American to reach orbit in 1962. Named for the Roman god Mercury, the distinctive Mercury program insignia combines the symbol of Mercury and the number seven, for the seven brave Mercury astronauts.
Following the success of the Mercury Program, the next step for NASA was to test and prepare spacecraft and astronaut capable of landing man on the moon. The Gemini program ran from 1962-1966, with 10 manned flights that laid the groundwork for Apollo, challenging the Gemini astronauts with long duration flights, rendezvous and docking with another vehicle, and extra-vehicular activity. NASA named the program Gemini, which means twins or double in Latin and is the zodiac sign for the twin stars, Castor and Pollox, which are represented in the Gemini program insignia.
The Apollo Program achieved the national goal as set by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, of ""landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth" by the end of the 1960s. The first manned flight of Apollo was in 1968, and the space race to the moon was won by the US on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed their Lunar Module on the moon. Five Apollo missions that followed also landed on the moon, 12 astronauts walked on the lunar surface, and the last Apollo mission was in December 1972.The majority of Apollo astronauts were chosen from the Project Mercury and Gemini veterans, and all missions were commanded by Gemini or Mercury veterans. The Greek god Apollo, who drove the sun across the sky with his chariot every day, is represented in the face of the moon on the Apollo program insignia.
Skylab was the first orbiting space station for the USA, and it circled the Earth from 1973 to 1979. There were three manned missions to the station using Apollo and Saturn transport, and many scientific studies and experiments were conducted in the Skylab station. The three crews that lived on Skylab resided in space for the longest durations up to that time, leading to many improvements in quality of life for longer stays in orbit.
Over the years there have been many space-related special events, programs and developments commemorated in embroidery. Starting with the original NASA insignias, affectionately known as the Meatball, the Vector, and the Worm, and spanning the years of incredible research and development that resulted in Hubble, Curiosity Rover, MIR, Voyager, and the Manned Maneuvering Unit to name a few; all accomplishments that deserve their own place in NASA patch history. A-B Emblem also creates patches that identify the space agencies of many nationalities and their flags, as well as creative collages celebrating whole programs.
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