Spaceflight Insider

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy characters featured on ISS patch

ISS 135

In 2005, the U.S. Congress designated the American portion of the International Space Station a national laboratory. Photo Credit: NASA

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) unveiled a patch that represents all payloads intended to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory in 2016. The patch, designed by Marvel Custom Solutions Group, features Guardians of the Galaxy characters Rocket and Groot.

ISS National Lab 2016 patch

Image Credit: CASIS / Marvel Custom Solutions

CASIS is the non-profit, US government-funded manager of the ISS U.S. National Laboratory. Their job is to maximize the use of the U.S. portion of the station’s facilities. As such, they provide seed money to research projects and product development. Additionally, they provide aerospace expertise for those projects, access to space via the international launch providers, administrative support, and educational outreach.

“A major mission for us here at CASIS is to find unique and innovative ways to bring notoriety to the ISS National Laboratory and the research that is being conducted on our orbiting laboratory,” said CASIS Director of Operations and Education Opportunities Ken Shields. “There are very few brands in the world who have as large an impact as Marvel, and we are thrilled to partner with them on this project and look forward to Rocket and Groot inspiring a new generation of researchers interested in the space station.”

Marvel Custom Solutions brings characters to life outside of Marvel comic books by working with a variety of partners and projects. With CASIS, they chose Rocket and Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, as they are characters that have a space-based background.

During this year, 2016, over 100 science investigations are expected to be sent to and conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory. These experiments will range from studies representing life and physical sciences, material sciences, technology development, Earth observation, and student inquiries.

Additionally, later in the year, CASIS is expected to announce an education flight contest focused on Rocket and Groot. According to the non-profit organization, it is intended to inspire, excite, and mobilize the next generation of scientists and engineers.

“The space station’s all about pushing boundaries and literally expanding our horizons beyond just this planet,” said Mark Basso, Marvel Custom Solutions editor and project manager. “I think it’s a really unique endeavor. It’s really an honor to be a part of that whole mission.”

Video courtesy of CASIS


Derek Richardson is a student studying mass media with an emphasis in contemporary journalism at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. He is currently the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also writes a blog, called Orbital Velocity, about the space station. His passion for space ignited when he watched space shuttle Discovery leap to space on Oct. 29, 1998. He saw his first in-person launch on July 8, 2011 when the space shuttle launched for the final time. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, he soon realized that his true calling was communicating to others about space exploration and spreading that passion.

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