Spaceflight Insider

Science fiction meets real life: Lucasfilm creates mission patch for ISS National Lab

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) has partnered with Lucasfilm to design its latest mission patch. Image credit: CASIS

Taking a modern twist on a longstanding spaceflight tradition of mission patch design, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) partnered with Lucasfilm to blend iconic images from the Star Wars franchise with a real-world space station for its latest mission patch.

CASIS has partnered with Lucasfilm to design its latest mission patch for ISS research. Image credit: CASIS

CASIS has partnered with Lucasfilm to design its latest mission patch for ISS research. Image credit: CASIS

BB-8 meets ISS

Though it should come as no surprise that the intersection of space science and science fiction fans is quite large, it isn’t often the two areas come together in such overt fashion, even with something as basic as a patch. Indeed, mission insignia are usually designed by astronauts or engineers involved with a particular mission, not an outside organization.

CASIS, however, has a history of engaging third parties to influence – or outright design – its ensigns. Before the current collaboration with Lucasfilm, CASIS worked with Marvel to design its 2016 mission patch. That work featured Rocket Raccoon and Groot from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy looking upwards toward the International Space Station (ISS).

Lucasfilm’s design, however, incorporates more of the franchise’s properties into the artwork.

Surrounded by a silhouette of the Millennium Falcon – also the inspiration for the name of SpaceX‘s Falcon 9 rocket – is a trio of the film saga’s robots. Contrasted by the warm colors representative of setting suns are BB-8, K-2SO, and Chopper with the ISS overhead. Represented slightly more subtly is the Death Star.

Though commercial in nature, the Star Wars imagery is meant to instill a feeling of exploration, mirrored by Luke Skywalker’s experience at his aunt and uncle’s farm.

“The patch design is meant to evoke this same spirit of wonder when Luke Skywalker looked out to the twin suns of Tatooine,” said Doug Chiang, vice president and executive creative director for Star Wars at Lucasfilm, in a joint release. “The silhouetted droids and ISS set against a sunset sky with echoes of the Death Star and Millennium Falcon – two iconic Star Wars vehicles that still captivate us – reflect this memorable scene.”

Not content with simply designing a mission patch, Lucasfilm also recently announced a 10-episode web series to inform people on the science behind the Star Wars universe. “Science and Star Wars,” a joint project with IBM, will demonstrate how work being done on the ISS benefits Earth.

Between the mission patch and the web series, CASIS believes the association with established science fiction icons will spur an interest in the work being done on the ISS.

“This collaboration connects the scientific promise of the International Space Station to the scientific inspiration of the iconic Star Wars franchise,” said Gregory H. Johnson, president and executive director at CASIS. “We are incredibly excited to link the inspiration brought by Star Wars to our International Space Station, highlighting research that is happening right now in space.”

Video courtesy of CASIS



Curt Godwin has been a fan of space exploration for as long as he can remember, keeping his eyes to the skies from an early age. Initially majoring in Nuclear Engineering, Curt later decided that computers would be a more interesting - and safer - career field. He's worked in education technology for more than 20 years, and has been published in industry and peer journals, and is a respected authority on wireless network engineering. Throughout this period of his life, he maintained his love for all things space and has written about his experiences at a variety of NASA events, both on his personal blog and as a freelance media representative.

Reader Comments

Is there any future notion for sending a media or commercial passenger to the ISS for the purposes of research on how to make space more accessible and marketable? Seems like a Bigelow, Branson, Bruno, or Musk would want some actual data to preview potential manned commercial activities.

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