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  NASA vector "meatball" logo/insignia patches

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Author Topic:   NASA vector "meatball" logo/insignia patches
spaced out
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posted 09-13-2007 07:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd be very grateful if anyone with bare-back vintage NASA vector ("meatball") patches could send me scans of them. I don't mind which size or style the patches are, as I know there's a huge variety.

Ideally, front and back scans at 100dpi on white backgrounds would be best.

Thanks in advance, and of course the results of my research will be freely-available to all once completed.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-30-2008 12:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As a baseline, Judith Kaplan's and Robert Muniz's Space Patches: From Mercury to the Space Shuttle has this to say:
The first embroidered emblem for the new civilian space agency is known, appropriately enough, as the NASA Original patch. The acronym for which NASA stands is National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It is sewn in white thread in the center of the patch. The overall emblem is round, measuring 2.5" in diameter. The patch has an overlock border, sewn of white thread. Angled around the lettering of the patch can be seen an ellipse, embroidered in white which depicts orbital flight. The ellipse is angled to point northwest and southeast in the plane of the patch. Above and below the lettering can be seen a number of stars, varying in size. They represent the vastness of space and the frontiers of exploration. A red vector completes the design, wrapping the NASA lettering at an angle perpendicular to the white ellipse. The vector represents NASA's trajectory and direction; thus it is naturally pointed upward, on a heading toward the stars.

The NASA logo retained this look through the early missions of the Space Program. In astronaut photos taken during the Mercury and early Gemini flights, it can be seen attached to their spacesuits, just above the left breast. By the Gemini 3 mission a slight design change had the red vector extending beyond the white border of the patch. The patch retained this look until the first Apollo mission, Apollo 7.

The advent of the Apollo program brought about a small change in the NASA logo, which also resulted in a name change, of sorts. The white border surrounding the NASA Original was eliminated. It was replaced with one of royal blue which matches the royal blue twill background of the emblem. The border is oversewn onto an Irregular border. The vector continued to extend well beyond the edges of the patch, causing this version to be dubbed the NASA Extended Vector.

spaced out
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posted 01-30-2008 02:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A nicely detailed account but unfortunately it's not accurate.

The design worn by all the Mercury astronauts had the vector extending well beyond the borders of the patch body.

The Gemini astronauts wore a very similar design, as did the crews of the early Apollos (post flight).

The switch to the blue border came with Apollo 10 and 12 onwards. For some reason with Apollo 11 they used the old white border version and there are a couple of later individual exceptions too as astronauts wore flight suits with the older patch design still sewn-on.

I've uploaded a new page covering all the crew-used vector patches (which I refer to as Type I, II, III etc) in detail on my Crew Patches site. You may need to hit reload to get the new link in the top menu to show up.

I had hoped to track down an example of one of the earlier patches before posting this info but have had no luck to-date. I know now that the info is posted the first example to show up will fetch mega-bucks...

Bill Hunt
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posted 01-31-2008 01:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bill Hunt   Click Here to Email Bill Hunt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's beautiful detective work, Chris! All you need to do is add a section for the new, present day vector NASA is using.

I actually have the Type III Meatball in my collection. I have it framed and I've never scanned it, but I'll see if I can photograph it somehow. How fascinating to know about the two slight variations that came before it. Good work!

sts205cdr
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posted 01-31-2008 02:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sts205cdr   Click Here to Email sts205cdr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Don't forget to cover the vectors with the missing orbital element as seen on many L&E suits.

Voyager1975
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posted 12-29-2008 02:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Voyager1975   Click Here to Email Voyager1975     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So would the current NASA Vector logo patch that is worn and have been worn on the astronauts flight suits since 1999 (STS-103 crew) be referred to as Type VI? Since at least according to the Crew Patches website the Type V vector logo patch is the 2 1/2 inch white border version worn by the Apollo suit techs in the late 1960's.

spaced out
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posted 03-06-2009 12:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've just updated the NASA vector patch page of my Crew Patches site to include details of the patch designs used by NASA personnel at the Dryden Flight Research Center in the '60s.

I was already aware of a 3" patch from Dryden that I had listed as white bordered variant 4 but had never looked much further into the subject. It was only recently that I decided to have a look at photos from DFRC to see if any showed NASA embroidered patches in use. I discovered that both small (3") and large (4") vector patches were worn by NASA research pilots at various times, with the pattern of stars on the two sizes of patch being almost identical, and quite distinct from that used on the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo versions.

In the section I've added for these DFRC patches on the NASA vector patch page you'll see a few photos of the patches in use, including Neil Armstrong wearing the larger version of the patch on his suit after his second X-15 flight. It's worth noting that there appear to be at least two variants of each patch, with thicker and thinner lettering.

Hopefully this new information will prove helpful to collectors, making it easier to identify any white bordered NASA vector patches you find. It's worth noting however that both the DFRC and Type I-III patches appear to be extremely rare. In the last couple of years that I've been actively looking for white bordered patches I've only seen one Type II, one DFRC 4" and one DFRC 3" patch sold.

Judging from the scarcity of vintage white bordered NASA 'meatball' patches (apart from those without the extended vector tails) it seems possible none were available to the general public at the time. Presumably AB only ever produced a blue bordered version, which was then adopted by NASA about mid-way through the Apollo project, at more-or-less the same time the crews started using AB mission patches.

As ever, if anyone has one of these patches (or any similar patches that are missing from my site) in their collection I'd love to see scans.

tombohnstedt
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posted 02-14-2010 09:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for tombohnstedt   Click Here to Email tombohnstedt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are some ‘space store’ websites selling what it allegedly an ‘old Mercury era meatball logo’ patch, with the red vector and everything else completely enclosed in the white/silver border. Personally, I have never seen any pictures showing this design in use anywhere. Even the Mercury astronaut pictures do not. They do have a meatball emblem with a silver/white border, but even then the red vector/foil does extend beyond the border. I wrote to NASA History department about it and here was their response from Liz Suckow, ‘Contract Archivist’ with NASA:
The version with the red vector-airfoil remaining completely within the silver border is not and never has been an approved NASA design. The vector always extended beyond the silver border.
So if you've already put down money for one of these, certainly file it under 'souvenir item' or whatever else you want to do with it.

GoesTo11
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posted 02-14-2010 10:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've been hoping for an accurate reproduction of the original white/silver-bordered NASA "meatball" patch for years, but nobody seems to be interested in making one... I even suggested it be part of the proposed cS Gemini souvenir set.

In any case you're correct; the white-bordered "meatball" patch currently sold by AB Emblem etc. does not mimic any patch ever issued to or worn by astronauts.

spaced out
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posted 02-14-2010 11:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's worth noting that I recently added a modern 4" white bordered patch to the gallery section of my CrewPatches NASA vector page.

It's a modern plastic backed patch but it's a very close replica/copy of the larger Dryden meatball design, with almost exactly the same star pattern. It was clearly based on a photo (or example) of one of the original DFRC patches.

hoorenz
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posted 02-14-2010 11:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hoorenz   Click Here to Email hoorenz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by tombohnstedt:
Personally, I have never seen any pictures showing this design in use anywhere.
Are we talking about this patch?

hoorenz
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posted 02-14-2010 11:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hoorenz   Click Here to Email hoorenz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I recently found a "meatball" with a white border, but no white border around the vector. It is not on the Crew Patches website.

GoesTo11
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posted 02-14-2010 12:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by hoorenz:
Are we talking about this patch?
Whoops! I guess the "never worn by astronauts" assertion was incorrect. But I'm still pretty sure that "meatball" was never an official NASA design.

andrewcli
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posted 02-14-2010 12:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for andrewcli   Click Here to Email andrewcli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by hoorenz:
I recently found a "meatball" with a white border, but no white border around the vector.
I too have this patch, but it has a plastic-vacuumed backing. It's a nice patch, a blending between types II and IV.

Regarding the patch that is seen on John Young's flightsuit, a similar patch is seen on the hats of suit technicians during Apollo 11.

tombohnstedt
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posted 02-14-2010 04:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tombohnstedt   Click Here to Email tombohnstedt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by hoorenz:
It has a white border, but no white border around the vector.
No, I was not talking about that patch. If you re-read my post you will see that I mentioned that the vector was "completely enclosed" in the white/silver border. I was referring to THAT patch. The one you show I have seen worn by Mercury astronauts, and I am not disputing that. No, again, I was referring to a version being recently sold that has the foil vector completely enclosed.

By the way, if my written description of the red foil being "completely enclosed within the border" is difficult to understand I would be happy to send anybody a pic of this thing.

tombohnstedt
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posted 02-14-2010 04:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tombohnstedt   Click Here to Email tombohnstedt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GoesTo11:
I guess the "never worn by astronauts" assertion was incorrect.
I am actually surprised to see this on Young’s coveralls, and thanks for the link to the pic. So we do have a pic of this being worn, but not during the Mercury era. So according to NASA history this design was never approved, and so I am surprised to see this being worn at all. Interesting.

andrewcli
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posted 02-14-2010 06:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for andrewcli   Click Here to Email andrewcli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This meatball patch, with the enclosed vector, is also seen on unofficial souvenir presentations with printed signatures of the Mercury 7 astronauts. I do believe these presentations are modern rather than in the time period of Mercury. Chris was able to date this patch to 1969. To get more information, see Chris' Crew Patches site.

tombohnstedt
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posted 02-14-2010 06:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tombohnstedt   Click Here to Email tombohnstedt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Okay, so it looks like the consensus that seems to be developing is that, in some respects it was used, but according to NASA history, it was never officially approved. But, if it was used, it was used, official or not. Thanks to all for clearing me up on that.

GC
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posted 11-29-2012 03:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GC     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am looking for anyone's help with identifying the following patch. The patch that is being shown is a three inch patch and I also have a 7 and 7/8 inch patch as well. Any information would be appreciated.

sts205cdr
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posted 11-29-2012 04:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sts205cdr   Click Here to Email sts205cdr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What about the meatball patches with the missing orbiting element (missing below "NASA"), as seen on many ACES? Here's an example.

Spaceguy5
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posted 11-29-2012 06:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Weird, I've never seen one like that. I wonder if it was sewn incorrectly. That's exactly identical to the older style AB Emblem's meatball from the 80's or 90's, just the small bit below the A is missing. Maybe the machine stopped sewing early?

ejectr
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posted 11-30-2012 05:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a good thread for me to ask the question I've always wanted the answer to. The orbit depicted goes the wrong way. If you judge the thin end the start and the thick end the current position, it's backwards. If you watch the animated pictures of this, with the spacecraft in motion, the orbit travel is truly backwards.

Is it for artistic reasons or did just someone never think about it?

spaced out
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posted 11-30-2012 09:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GC:
I am looking for anyone's help with identifying the following patch.
On my Crew Patches site this is identified as white-bordered variant 4, although this example is missing one larger star at the top.

GC
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posted 11-30-2012 09:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GC     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After looking at you site I was thinking the Variant 4 may have been it but was uncertain being that the star at the top was missing. I'll have to check the larger patch to see if the star is missing as well. I appreciate your response. Thank you.

Liembo
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posted 11-14-2013 05:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This looks very similar to the 3" version possibly identified as made by Universal Commemorative (via crewpatches.com), but it is a very large 8" in diameter. Fully embroidered with a bare cloth back. Very well made.

Does anyone have a thought on the origin?

p51
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posted 11-14-2013 06:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Many years ago, I talked with someone who swore they saw the original ventor insignia being sketched for the very first time, at the US Army Institute of Heraldry.

I'm curious if anyone knows the name of the specific person who designed the classic NASA 'meatball', originally?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-14-2013 06:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA aerospace engineer Joe Chambers discussed the history and origins of the NASA seal and the less-formal NASA insignia (the "meatball") in July at NASA's Langley Research Center (the title of his talk was, "Wings, Meatballs, Worms and Swooshes: The Unknown Story of the NASA Seal and Insignia").

Chambers traced the seal's origins back to 1959 and a NASA-wide design contest.

The winning seal design was submitted by James Modarelli of the NASA Lewis (now Glenn) Research Center who was also tasked with designing the less-formal "Meatball" insignia.
An abstract and video of Chambers' presentation is available online here.

BlueHalo
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posted 11-15-2013 11:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BlueHalo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Chris, have you seen the vector patches on this website? Quite a few rarities in there for sure.

Teacher in space
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posted 01-22-2014 02:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Teacher in space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I tried to find measurements of the shuttle era meatball patch. I could find lots of information of older ones.

Do you know what is diameter of the round area in NASA patch that was used in ACES suit?

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