April 4, 2016
— First it was given an acronym, then it was assigned a name. Now Boeing's CST-100 Starliner crewed spacecraft has its own program patch.
The commercial space capsule, which Boeing is producing to transport NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station, features prominently on the new logo.
The rectangular insignia, which replaces a circular emblem that was used before the Boeing crew space transportation (CST) system was formally christened in September 2015, now includes the Starliner moniker.
On the new patch, the Starliner spacecraft protrudes from the right side of the insignia, trailing the red, white and blue banner from NASA's Commercial Crew Program logo. On the opposite side of the Boeing patch, also extending from the border, is the space station orbiting above the Earth.
Boeing's official program patch for the CST-100 Starliner. (Boeing)
Three stars above the planet memorialize three astronauts — Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee — who died in a 1967 fire during a test on the launch pad. The stars are also meant to represent the three U.S. space tragedies, Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia.
The Starliner is the sixth piloted space vehicle that Boeing and its lineage of companies has developed and built. The aerospace giant's spaceflight heritage began with NASA's Mercury spacecraft and the Air Force's X-15 rocket plane, and extends through NASA's Gemini and Apollo capsules and the space shuttle orbiters.
This year marks Boeing's centennial, having been founded on July 15, 1916.
"The CST-100 [Starliner] incorporates 50 years of heritage in spacecraft design, and is paving the way for the next 100 years of flight," said Chris Ferguson, Boeing's director of crew and mission operations for the CST-100 Starliner and the commander of NASA's final space shuttle mission, at the Starliner's naming ceremony.
Artist's concept of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner in orbit. (Boeing)
In September 2014, NASA chose Boeing and SpaceX to provide launch services for its space station-bound crews. The space agency awarded a total of $6.8 billion, including $4.2 billion to Boeing for it complete and certify the CST-100 Starliner for flight and $2.6 billion for SpaceX to do the same with its Crew Dragon capsule.
In 2015, NASA ordered its first two Starliner missions, to follow Boeing's planned uncrewed and crewed test flights to the space station. Boeing's first piloted test, targeted for late 2017, will be crewed by a NASA astronaut and Boeing test pilot, who have yet to be assigned.
The Starliner's missions will launch with four space station expedition crew members, including NASA astronauts and their international crewmates. The capsules will lift off atop Atlas V rockets from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
At the end of its mission, the CST-100 Starliner will return to Earth under parachutes and deploy airbags to cushion a touchdown on land in the desert plains of the southwestern United States.