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I’ve often joked that I would love to design wine labels as a job. But I think an even cooler job would be to be the designer of the shuttle crew patches for the shuttle missions.

In honor of the last NASA Shuttle launch, and because I think it is a pretty good design, I will analyze the design of the STS-135 patch.
STS-135 Mission Crew Patch

The designer(s) of the STS-135 patch, the patch for the final NASA shuttle mission, did a good job with a clean, techy, strong design with direction and some flow. The typeface is a techy looking sans serif, legible but with enough voice to feel “spacey”. The shape of the patch is a traditional diamond shape, but the engine exhaust fumes shapes flare out a bit, making it visually distinct, but still recognizable as a patch. The exhaust fumes shapes are a lovely touch and emphasize the upward direction of the rocket. The patch is front on and not at an odd angle (as some earlier patches, see STS-123, for instance) that impedes readability and understanding. The use of color is limited (only nine colors that I see), creating a simpler and cleaner design. Also, the limited colors creates a focus on the brighter colors—especially the bright red V of the NASA logo. This bright red NASA logo V shape is my favorite part of the patch. This red V shape is taken directly from the NASA logo and it is elegantly draped around the shuttle, providing more direction to the patch and a great connection back to NASA. In addition, this red v shape is also on the round blue field of stars, also mimicking or repeating elements of the NASA logo and shape.  This direct visual connection to the NASA logo is particularly fitting for the last shuttle flight and is not seen in many of the pervious patches. Overall, this is a strong, effective, and fitting design and one I prefer over some of the other mission patches (STS-123, STS-124, STS-119, and STS-112 for example).

Congratulations to the designer of a strong final space shuttle patch. Congratulations also to NASA for 30 years of the space shuttle program and to all the inspiring astronauts and complete NASA crews who fly into space and make space flight possible.

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