Perhaps the best perk of working on a NASA mission is getting the official stitched mission patch. Nearly every project at the space agency produces its own unique emblem that is adorned by astronauts and engineers alike, serving as a reminder of the hard work put into each assignment. Even the National Laboratory on the International Space Station, which is overseen by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), gets its own unique mission patch year to year.
It will make many comic lovers happy
This year’s patch will make many comic lovers happy and very, very jealous. The adorableness is courtesy of Marvel, designing this year’s ISS patch to feature two of Marvel Comics’ beloved space explorers: Rocket and Groot. The raccoon / tree creature duo from Guardians of the Galaxy gaze up at the International Space Station as it flies overhead.
Patrick O’Neill, a representative for CASIS, revealed the mission patch today at a San Diego Comic-Con panel where space agency representatives discussed how NASA plans to send people to Mars. He noted the patch represents all of the scientific investigations on the station’s National Laboratory for 2016.
According to O’Neill, Groot and Rocket were picked for the patch because they are space travel enthusiasts, just like those who work on the ISS. “These are characters who have a bit of a space-based background to begin with,” said O’Neill. “So both of [these] characters already embody some of the characteristics associated with what’s happening on the space station.”
This won’t be the last time Rocket and Groot help out with the ISS. CASIS plans to launch an “education flight contest” that involves the two characters sometime in October, though O’Neill won’t say exactly what that initiative entails just yet.
This year’s Rocket and Groot patch continues CASIS’s tradition of creating unique mission patches for the ISS. The first patch for the station in 2013 was designed by Shepard Fairey, the famous street artist known for creating the Obey Giant and Barack Obama’s “Hope” poster. And actor Seth Green helped CASIS develop the ISS mission patch for 2015. Those patches all had similar styles, though, and this one is the first to feature (precious) comic book characters.