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Crew change creates error patches

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Space Store: Official patches unavailable

July 29, 2002 — Dayna Justiz, with provided an update on the availability of the "official" ISS Expedition 6 and STS-113 patches:

"AB Emblem never started production on STS-113 patches and had only a few Expedition 6 (which were destroyed) when NASA changed the order. Any patches out there are not 'official' and were never approved by the astronaut office. Nor were they produced by the official supplier."


July 27, 2002 — Erik van der Hoorn of weighed in with his opinion about the interest and value of the ISS Expedition Six and STS-113 mistake patches:

"The 'error' Expedition-6 and STS-113 patches (available in at least two versions: Randy Hunt and the one on, which is also sold on eBay and might be AB Emblem) are funny gimmicks to space patch collectors, but their value will not increase that much, I expect.

"With internet and e-mail, it is just too easy to send a design (revealed on, for instance) to Taiwan and have an embroidered patch produced. I think a lot of collectors have started to realize that over the last two years or so.

"Even Taiwanese copies of 'rare' designs were quite expensive on eBay not too long ago, but their value has really dropped with the growing understanding that everybody can now have any patch produced. Unfortunately, even AB Emblem patches do not stand out anymore and look like cheap reproductions themselves, not adding to their historical or collector's value.

"Another factor is the interest in Shuttle and Station. There are just too many astronauts and space missions that don't really get that much attention. Other recent examples of 'error' patches were STS-88 (without Krikalev) and the original STS-101 (Service Module). These are nice to have, but are still widely available for their original (or even lower) prices.

"Things are different for the 'old quality' patches of 'high profile' or even 'historical' missions 51E, 51D (Jarvis), 61E and for instance STS-42 (Carter): they are original AB Emblem quality and there is a notable difference between 'real' and 'fake'. Actually, modern embroidery machines are so commercialized, they simply cannot produce the quality of those patches anymore.

"51E was cancelled less than a week before launch, so the patch was made in great quantities. Still, finding an original 51E Challenger embroidered onto navy-blue cloth with visible signs of the 'Baudry-tab amputation', is getting more difficult. Finding a 51E Challenger with the original fixed Baudry tab still attached, would be a patch collector's dream. Likewise, original 61E and 51D Jarvis patches have sold for hundreds of dollars and will always keep their value.

"My own dream came true last year, when I found an original AB Emblem evaluation version of STS-42, produced in small quantities for crew approval. This first version has different cloud patterns (copied from STS-32) and, with Sonny Carter still alive, 'Carter' instead of 'Hilmers'.

"I think AB Emblem evaluation versions of STS-63 (maybe showing Ford), STS-85 (maybe showing Ashby) or STS-45 (maybe showing Lampton) would be worth a lot too. Their 'Taiwanese' souvenir versions (made available by Randy Hunt (42 and 45), Eagle One Aerospace (85) and Spaceland Enterprises (63) are fun to have, but will never be worth the same.

"One more thing on the Randy Hunt ISS Expedition-6 patch: in a way to make the patch 'more original' Hunt added the initials of the three crew members to his design. Somewhere, something went wrong, because it all ended up as a strange square 'thing' on the patch."

Crew change creates error patches

July 26, 2002 — The Expedition Six patch may include his name now, but Donald Thomas will not be flying to the International Space Station when the mission launches.

Citing medical concerns, NASA announced that another Donald — Pettit — will join the crew in Thomas' place.

The reassignment results in the "original" Expedition Six patch becoming a collector's item.

Released in March 2002, the Expedition Six insignia depicts the ISS orbiting the Earth, with the crews' names — including Thomas' — appearing along the border.

The emblem will presumeably be replaced with one that names Pettit but essentially keeps the same design.

The same will need to be done for the STS-113 patch, which also identifies the Expedition Six crew.

This is not the first time a patch has had to be altered. At least ten NASA designs have reached production only to be changed later. Most notable was the emblem that ultimately flew on STS-51D.

Changing no less than four times, the insignia was first proposed by the STS-41F crew. When their mission was cancelled, they carried their design to STS-51E, but with two changes: "Challenger" was swapped for "Discovery" and French astronaut Patrick Baudry was added.

When Senator-turned-astronaut Jake Garn was named to the mission, the patch was again amended. Then NASA bumped the crew — less Baudry — to join payload specialist Charles Walker on STS-51D. Back on Discovery, the orbiter's name was restored and Walker was added to finalize the patch.

Collectors seek these error patches as they are often much rarer than the designs that ultimately fly. As such, they can sell for as much as five times that of the corrected patch.

A quick search of online stores resulted in only one source for the Expedition Six ("original" or otherwise) or STS-113 emblems, though others may exist. Astronomy Now currently lists the ISS crew patch for $6.00 and the shuttle mission for $4.95.

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