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Author Topic:   European Space Agency 'ESA flags' patch
carl walker

Posts: 405
From: Netherlands
Registered: Feb 2006

posted 11-13-2020 05:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for carl walker     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The European Space Agency (ESA) has just released a collection of items on the ESA Space Shop featuring our updated "ESA flags" patch. The new design features long-standing cooperating state Canada, new Member and Associate Member States. Announcement here:
A brand new "ESA flags" patch is at the heart of ESA Space Shop's latest collection.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 49673
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-17-2022 12:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
European Space Agency (ESA) release
A new look for the ESA astronaut patch

In October 2022, an updated ESA astronaut patch celebrated the joining of ESA's newest Associate Member, Slovakia. The new patch adds the Slovakian flag to a design that has evolved over the decades to represent ESA's growing space family.

On 13 October 2022, Slovakia's Associate membership came into effect, cementing a long cooperation with ESA that goes back to 2010. This means that ESA now has 22 Member States and four Associate Members, as well as Cooperation Agreements with four more EU states and Canada. Slovakia's membership affirms ESA's strong commitment to making space for everyone.

Above: The 2022 update to the official ESA astronaut patch, now with 27 flags to represent ESA's growing space family.

International cooperation has been at the heart of ESA since it was founded in 1975. Having started out with 10 members, ESA has steadily grown to become Europe's comprehensive space agency, helping its members work together to further their shared interests in the space sector.

ESA's agency patch, as worn by all ESA astronauts, celebrates this unity of purpose and represents the countries that collectively make up ESA. Known informally as the "flags patch," its design has just been updated to add in Slovakia's flag.

The 2022 edition of the ESA patch now features 27 flags, which encircle the ESA logo on the agency's signature 'Deep Space' blue background.

The history of this ESA patch tells the visual story of ESA's growth as an agency. The very first patch, used from 1975­­­–1983, was circular in shape, just like the latest patch. However, it featured just the 11 flags of ESA's members at that time (Ireland joined the 10 original members at the end of 1975). The flags were arranged in an arc over the original ESA 'thumbprint' logo.

The circular "flags patch" was the first ESA astronaut patch to be worn in space. During his 1983 Spacelab-1 mission, ESA astronaut Ulf Merbold wore this agency patch on the left shoulder of his flight suit, together with a rectangular blue patch sporting the ESA name on the upper right of the chest (NASA had rules about the placement and type of patches that astronauts from partner agencies could wear on NASA flight suits).

The astronaut patch continued to evolve as the agency grew, both to accommodate more flags for more European Member States, but also to incorporate new logo designs as ESA's corporate visual identity evolved.

From 1986–1995 the circular shaped patch gave way to a larger rectangular format. The 1986 version had 13 flags, but this was followed by updated and restyled versions between 1995 and 2015. These featured from 14 to 22 flags as more new Member States joined.

In 2019 the patch literally came full circle, with a redesign that returned to the circular format of the original 1975 version.

This new circular patch was smaller than the rectangular patches preceding it, which made it more comfortable to wear on a flight suit. Its circular arrangement of flags also made further additions easier, which was a smart move as ESA continued growing.

First issued in 2020, the new patch had 25 flags and was the first to feature Canada as a Cooperating State, as well as being the first to include Associate Members, adding in flags for Slovenia and Latvia who had recently joined ESA.

Astronaut patches are an essential part of ESA's visual identity and space history. When ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti made her first spacewalk in July 2022, the first made by a European woman, she was also the first ESA astronaut to wear the ESA flags patch during a spacewalk. However, by the time Samantha returned from her second mission to the International Space Station her ESA patch needed upgrading to one with an extra flag for Slovakia.

Whether worn by ESA astronauts on historic space missions, or during public appearances on the ground, patches are small but important symbols. They make a clear visual statement about ESA as a multinational, diverse and cooperative organization, and proudly showcase Europe's ever-growing space family.


Posts: 473
From: France
Registered: Nov 2012

posted 11-22-2022 09:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Russian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are two other round ESA patches in my collection.

The first was produced long ago and it is just a prototype. The second one has not Slovakian flag on it but has Lithuanian flag. It is different from the patch Carl Walker showed above.

Paul J. Brennan

Posts: 248
From: Linden, CA
Registered: May 2019

posted 11-22-2022 10:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul J. Brennan   Click Here to Email Paul J. Brennan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just purchased one of the 27 flags patch over at Emblemen (scroll to the bottom of the page). Great price!

carl walker

Posts: 405
From: Netherlands
Registered: Feb 2006

posted 12-14-2022 05:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carl walker     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's the first time I have seen that "prototype" patch — truly hideous if you don't mind me saying, glad it was only prototype!

The second patch has the same number of Member States but you notice the order is different - and the first flag after Canada changes from Austria to Germany. This would date it to early 2021 when Director General Josef Aschbacher took over from Jan Woerner.

Director Generals generally don't like having their own national flag first in line. And the order used to alternate between alphabetical in French and English language country names (which means some countries change position).

All times are CT (US)

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