The mission of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space—the group that manages the research lab aboard the ISS—is to develop groundbreaking research that can benefit those back on terra firma. Despite its location in Lower Earth Orbit, CASIS is focused squarely on humanity. So it’s fitting that the job of designing CASIS’s mission patch was given to the ultimate graphic populist—the artist Shepard Fairey.
Fairey is the self-described artist/activist behind the Obey campaign and, perhaps most infamously, the Obama Hope poster that incurred the legal wrath of the AP in 2009. He was actually invited to design the CASIS patch by a middleman—the Florida creative agency Fiction. “When CASIS told us that they wanted Fiction to design the crew patch for their first mission, we knew that we had an amazing opportunity,” agency president Chase Heavener explains in a statement. “We wanted to think bigger than our circle of influence.” So they invited Fairey to take a shot at the triangular logo, and he accepted.
By the standards of other recent NASA patches, Fairey’s contribution is a throwback, from the lime green palette to the use of a typeface reminiscent of the one NASA canned several years ago. Even his rendering of the ISS as a Star Wars-esque white vehicle feels retro, not to mention the Buckminster Fuller-esque depiction of Earth as a geodesic dome. We’re seeing a visual feedback loop between how a civilian perceives the magic of space flight and how NASA and the ISS choose to portray their missions.
Fairey, for his part, is just psyched to be involved: "It’s a really special thing. I’m just flattered and honored that I could create something that becomes just a small symbol of how things can move forward,” he says. “The excitement of the unknown.”