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Author Topic:   STS-38 crew and mission patches
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 39791
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-25-2008 10:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Space Review: Space Age hieroglyphs

On November 15, 1990, the space shuttle Atlantis roared into the dark Florida sky on STS-38, the seventh dedicated mission for the Department of Defense. Of the ten classified shuttle missions conducted at the height of the program, STS-38 has been the subject of much speculation due to its secret cargo of two very unusual payloads. Tucked inside the shuttle's payload bay was a classified National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) communications satellite -- known as Quasar -- that would be used to relay data between intelligence spacecraft in low Earth orbit. But the Quasar payload, although highly classified, also served as a cover story for an even more exotic payload -- a stealthy satellite inspection spacecraft, often referred to as "Prowler", designed to sneak up on other satellites undetected, photographing and measuring them in various ways.

Although STS-38's operational secrets were cloaked at great effort and expense, subtler clues hinted at the mission's clandestine nature. The official mission patch for the flight featured two nose-on images of a shuttle orbiter, with a white version on top and a dark version below. According to NASA's image description, "the top orbiter ...symbolizes the continuing dynamic nature of the Space Shuttle Program. The bottom orbiter, a black and white mirror image, acknowledges the thousands of unheralded individuals who work behind the scenes ...this mirror image symbolizes the importance of their contributions."

But NASA has never disclosed that there was also a secret patch designed for this mission: an emblem that had a darker border. Most notably, the shuttles were inverted, with the black orbiter -- the classified mission's on top, and the white orbiter on the bottom. It was an inside joke by the all-military crew about the true nature of their mission.

The remainder of the article, written by Dwayne Day and Roger Guillemette, deals mostly with topics better discussed under Secrets and signs in NRO, DoD patches but as they write, "the disclosure of the 'secret' STS-38 patch raises the interesting possibility that other classified shuttle mission patches may also exist."


Posts: 46
From: Pataskala, Ohio
Registered: Nov 2005

posted 07-23-2018 04:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ddrwilli   Click Here to Email ddrwilli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
STS-38 and STS-29 astronaut Robert Springer was in Wapakoneta at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum this last weekend for the 49th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Col. Springer, along with fellow astronaut Dr. Don Thomas, gave presentations and signed autographs for museum visitors.

As he signed my patch pages, Col. Springer told me that he had designed both of the STS-29 and STS-38 mission patches. "You can tell they were both designed by an engineer," he told me with a smile, "they are very orthogonal."

He then asked me if I knew why his name was at the bottom center of both patches. I said I didn't know. Again he smiled and said, "I designed them – I could put my name wherever I wanted!"

Hart Sastrowardoyo

Posts: 3345
From: Toms River, NJ
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 07-24-2018 06:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Other than a drawing, has anyone seen the reversed STS-38 patch in the wild? Or is even confirmation of such considered classified?


Posts: 93
From: Martinsburg, WV 25401, USA
Registered: Dec 2010

posted 07-24-2018 10:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SparkR_13   Click Here to Email SparkR_13     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Shhhhhhh... it's a secret.


Posts: 1343
From: Cincinnati, Ohio, Hamilton
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 07-25-2018 12:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lunarrv15   Click Here to Email lunarrv15     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Were any of the reverse image of the patch manufactured?

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