Agence spatiale canadienne
Symbol of the Government of Canada

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History of Canadian Patches

Manned space missions, since their beginning in 1961, have each marked a point in history, highlighting humanity’s innovative spirit and achievements in the area of space science and technology. In recognition of the astronauts who participated in space flight, a crew emblem, reflecting the objectives and identifying the crew, is attributed to each mission.

Canada has perpetuated this tradition with a variation. Every space mission involving a Canadian Space Agency astronaut showcases not only the crew patch; it also celebrates Canada’s participation by creating a Canadian designed patch for the flight. Since 1984, the Canadian Space Agency has produced a mission patch for each flight of a Canadian Space Agency astronaut. Each mission patch reflects the Canadian contribution to the flight and is worn on the astronaut’s flight suit.

All elements in a Canadian patch have a meaningful significance, for example:

STS-78 crest

The Canadian Space Agency's (CSA) crest celebrating Bob Thirsk's flight aboard STS-78 features the art and mythology of Canada's West Coast native cultures. The main image on this crest is a totem featuring an eagle. The form and lines of the eagle design connote the powerful upward speed of the shuttle as it overcomes Earth's gravity and enters the dark void of space where the house of the Sun Chief is located.
STS-90 crest

Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Dave William’s flight aboard STS-90 (also known as Neurolab) included research in neurosciences. The STS-90 patch portrays the constellation Ophiucus ("The Serpent Bearer"), associated with Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine, among other elements. The nine stars in the constellation represent the nine crew members who trained for STS-90.
STS-96 crest

Looking at Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Julie Payette’s patch provides many diverse clues into the meaning of that mission. Among one of the images depicted on the patch is that of Earth represented without boundaries, which emphasizes the international nature of space endeavors at the end of the century, as well as reminding us that the blue planet is still the only known inhabitable place for humans.