NASA Marks 50 Space Station Expeditions With Flown Metal Mementos

Winco's International Space Station "50 Expeditions" medallion and lapel pin
Winco's International Space Station "50 Expeditions" medallion (reverse, at right) and lapel pin (obverse, at left). (Image credit: Winco/

Two new commemoratives produced by a NASA space pin supplier mark the milestone of 50 crews to live on the International Space Station.

Winco International of California designed the new "official NASA-issue" lapel pin and medallionto feature a blend of metal that was flown on the International Space Station to celebrate the orbiting laboratory's first 50 expeditions since November 2000. Both the pin and the medal share similar artwork.

"The International Space Station that is featured on these commemoratives is reproduced from the most current ISS configuration," wrote Winco, describing the mementos. "To represent the five international partners, five stars are also prominently featured within the designs." [The International Space Station: Inside and Out (Infographic)]

The International Space Station is a collaboration between NASA, Russia's federal space corporation Roscosmos, the 22 member states of the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Canadian Space Agency. Crewed for more than 16 years, the orbiting outpost has been home to 230 astronauts and cosmonauts from the United States, Russia, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Belgium, Canada, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Expedition 50 began aboard the space station on Oct. 29, 2016, under the command of astronaut Shane Kimbrough of NASA with flight engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrei Borisenko of Roscosmos. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet of ESA joined the crew upon their arrival at the complex three weeks later on Nov. 19.

The Expedition 50 crew is scheduled to continue to serve together through April 10, when Kimbrough, Borisenko and Ryzhikov will depart for Earth and Expedition 51 will begin.

The Winco pins and medallions, ordered by NASA, measure 1.4 inches in diameter (3.6 centimeters) and 1.75 inches in diameter (4.5 cm), respectively. Each are plated in antique bronze and contain metal flown on the station.

"Since 1985 (when Winco began producing official space pins) Winco has only produced two other NASA-authorized pins with space-flown metals," the company wrote.

Winco previously produced for NASA a "First Footprints" pin commemorating the Apollo lunar landings using metal flown to the moon and a 30th anniversary commemorative pin for the space shuttle program using metal flown aboard one of the winged orbiters.

Winco's International Space Station "50 Expeditions" medallion (obverse, at left) and lapel pin (reverse, at right). (Image credit: Winco/

The company has also released a series of limited edition medallions, each minted using metal launched on Gemini, Apollo or space shuttle missions, as well as medals struck with metal used in the production and testing of other U.S. spacecraft, including the Curiosity Mars rover.

Some of the new "50 Expeditions" pins are expected to be launched to the space station for presentation by NASA to team members. The remainder of the pins and medallions will be sold through NASA employee exchange stores and other shops located on site at NASA centers.

An alternate edition of the medal, featuring the NASA logo in place of where the dates are inscribed on the front of the regular version, was also struck for NASA's Space Station Program Office. On that edition, the dates appear on the medal's reverse.

See the artwork for NASA's "50 Expeditions"medallion and lapel pin at collectSPACE.

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Robert Z. Pearlman Editor, Contributor

Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.