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:
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.
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.
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.