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NASA employees, public pick favorites for end-of-shuttle program patch

The first (left) and second place designs in NASA's Shuttle Commemorative Patch People's Choice Poll. (NASA)
February 1, 2010 — After almost three weeks polling its employees, NASA has identified the "People's Choice" for their insignia commemorating the end of the space shuttle program. The favorite patch received nearly 30 percent of the workers' votes, but ultimately differed from the choice ranked highest by fans of the program during an unofficial public poll conducted over the same period.

The culmination of an in-house contest that resulted in 85 designs being submitted from across the agency, NASA's Shuttle Commemorative Patch People's Choice Poll gave employees the opportunity to vote for their favorite from a selection of 15 top patches as chosen by shuttle program managers serving as the contest's judges. The poll, which ran from Jan. 11 to Jan. 31, recorded 7,606 total votes.

The poll's winning design, identified only by the number 7 so as to keep the voting impartial, was described in the artist's accompanying caption as forming the shape of a diamond so as to be reminiscent of how the shuttle has been "an innovative, iconic gem in the history of American spaceflight," its facets fanning out to "evoke the vastness of space and our aim to explore it, as the shuttle has done successfully for decades."

Update: NASA has named Blake Dumesnil with Hamilton Sundstrand at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas as the artist behind the People's Choice winning design.

Design no. 7 ranked first in NASA's People's Choice poll with 2,182 votes, 29% of the 7,606 votes recorded. (NASA)
The central element of the design, the space shuttle itself, is flanked by panels depicting the American flag and two sets of stars: 14 in memory of the astronauts lost aboard Challenger and Columbia, and five symbolizing the shuttle fleet including Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour.

The patch's diamond-shape is cradled within the outline of a blue circle, representing the shuttle's exploration within low Earth orbit but also alluding "to the smoothness of the shuttle orbiting the earth."

Finally, the words "30 Years" reference the anniversary of the shuttle's first spaceflight, STS-1, in April 2011.

Runner-up ranked first by public

Throughout the 20 days that NASA's poll ran, two designs jockeyed for the win. The second, identified as number 3, received 26 percent of the employees' votes.

Though second place in NASA's poll, the runner-up design ranked a solid first place in collectSPACE's own unofficial "Fans' Choice" poll with 836 of the 3,206 votes.

NASA's first place ranked second in the public poll, with 12 percent of the vote recorded over the same three-week period as the official poll.

Like the People's Choice first place, the Fans' Choice also put the shuttle at center, though chose an orbital depiction rather than launch configuration. Viewed from behind, the orbiter is "tipping its wing to the world," the artist wrote in his/her caption, "as a way to say thank you and farewell just as a cowboy would wave goodbye into the sunset."

Design no. 3 ranked second in NASA's People's Choice poll with 1,965 votes, 26% of the 7,606 votes recorded. (NASA)
The design also uses stars to signify the fallen STS-51L and STS-107 crews, as well as lists the names of the five shuttles. The American flag forms a square-shaped border that is then overlaid by the patch's circular design.

The words "Mission Complete" appear prominently above the inscription "1981-2010," marking the completion of the space shuttle program.

Judges' choice

According to Debbie Byerly, who led the patch contest and official poll as technical assistant to shuttle program manager John Shannon, the People's Choice top design will be taken into consideration by the contest's judges as they ultimately select the winning entry.

Joining Shannon at the judges' table are Mike Moses, the shuttle's integration manager at Kennedy Space Center in Florida; Steve Cash, manager of the shuttle's propulsion office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama; Leroy Cain, Shannon's deputy for the shuttle program; and John Casper, associate manager of the shuttle program and a former astronaut who flew four times aboard the shuttle.

The judges' choice will become NASA's commemorative design for the space shuttle program, appearing on decals and t-shirts to be offered through NASA's employee gift shops, as well as on official documents.

The winning artist will see their artwork fly aboard the final mission of shuttle Atlantis, STS-132, in May and then be presented with it back as a space-flown award.

The People's Choice poll winner, if different from the patch picked by the judges, will be presented with a certificate.

NASA plans to reveal the winning design in mid-February.

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