Ridley Scott's creative vision for representing science aboard the International Space Station took its shape from the Renaissance.
The filmmaker, whose movies include "Alien" and "Blade Runner," designed a new mission patch for the U.S. National Laboratory on the International Space Station (ISS). Revealed Wednesday (June 13), Scott found his inspiration for the new insignia in centuries-old artwork.
"As I drew it, I sat and thought about... the relevance of the astronaut to space, the heavens, because that's what it is, the infinity. And [I] thought about how brave you must be to be an astronaut," said Scott in a video released by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization selected to manage the ISS National Lab for NASA. [The International Space Station: Inside and Out (Infographic)]
Scott's mission patch depicts a spacesuited woman surrounded by the infiniteness of space, gazing toward the space station.
"I happened to be drawing an androgynous person and then I thought 'drift toward female,'" recounted Scott.
As he created the emblem, Scott considered the parallel between the appearance of modern astronauts and how the virtuous were represented in Renaissance-era paintings.
"The [astronaut's] helmet would become, in a sense, a subliminal suggestion of a saint, because that's who you are," said Scott, referring to the station's crew.
"I think they're saints," explained Scott. "And I have always thought on these early paintings of the saints by the Italian masters, you'll see the relevance of how some painters instead of having the halo above [the head] like a dish had it like a circle."
As Scott completed his rendition of a saintly female astronaut, CASIS asked about adding one more element to the patch.
"They said, 'We like the night sky — could you put up there somewhere the space station?'" Scott recalled. "Of course you can, so that will be fitted in one corner as if the astronaut was looking toward the station."
Recognizing that the patch stood for more than just the space station's crew, Scott extended his praise to the scientists whose experiments are performed in orbit.
"I can feel these scientists, they are so passionate about what they do," he said.
"Scientists are like — and I mean this in the best sense of the word, whether you are wearing a suit or flip flops — you're a bunch of overgrown school boys. You're a bunch of actual enthusiasts about what you do, which is exactly who I am," said Scott.
The 2018 ISS National Lab mission patch is the latest to be created for CASIS by a guest artist with connections to pop culture. Previous years' insignias have been designed by actor Seth Green and street artist Shepard Fairey, as well as Marvel Entertainment (featuring "Guardians of the Galaxy") and most recently, Lucasfilm, celebrating the "Star Wars" universe.
CASIS seeks associations with people like Scott to engage and excite the general public. Scott's interest in space exploration and his prior partnerships with NASA, such as on the 2015 film "The Martian," helped lead to this patch collaboration.
"We are incredibly excited and fortunate that Ridley Scott's creative vision will help us recognize and represent all the ISS National Laboratory research in 2018," said Patrick O'Neill, senior manager of marketing and communications at CASIS.
Watch Ridley Scott describe his ISS National Laboratory mission patch at collectSPACE.