The first NASA astronauts assigned to fly on a SpaceX Crew Dragon commercial spacecraft have provided a first look at their mission patch.
Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley joined NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk for a press briefing at SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California on Thursday (Oct. 10). Although the event was largely focused on what work remains before Behnken and Hurley can safely launch on SpaceX's Demo-2 (DM-2) mission to the International Space Station — including another series of parachute trials and an in-flight abort test — the debut of the crew's mission patch offered a sign that they were at least one small step closer to taking flight.
"There is still some learning left to do between now and launching crew," said Bridenstine. "I will say we are getting very close and we are very confident that in the first part of next year we will be ready to launch."
Standing in front of the clean room where their Crew Dragon spacecraft is being assembled, Behnken and Hurley wore their DM-2 mission patch on the right shoulder of their NASA-issued blue flight suits. The two astronauts did not draw specific attention or talk about the emblem, but it was visible as they answered reporters' questions, including about their schedule between now and when they will go to launch.
"We'll be here," said Hurley. "The majority of our time will be spent here, training, running the sims [simulations] with the teams not only here in Hawthorne but the team back in Houston."
Hurley and Behnken were selected by NASA for SpaceX's first crewed flight test in August 2018. Both members of NASA's original commercial crew cadre named three years earlier, Hurley and Behnken each flew on two previous space shuttle missions to the International Space Station.
Hurley's and Behnken's new mission patch is in the shape of their new spacecraft, the Crew Dragon capsule.
The badge's design shows the space station in Earth orbit over the United States. Above the horizon, set against a field of stars, are SpaceX's logos for the Dragon and Falcon 9 rocket that will launch the crew. The red vector from NASA's insignia is also included, stretching over the planet.
Beneath the vector, NASA's Commercial Crew Program logo extends upward from the mission designation, "DM-2," which is inscribed in bold letters and is subtitled, "First Crewed Flight."
Written along the outer border of the patch are "NASA" and "SpaceX," separated by the American flag, and the crew's names, "Hurley" and "Behnken."
Though the astronauts were wearing the patch on Thursday, it is not yet known if they will wear the same — or any — emblem for launch. The new patch is a NASA design. For its previous cargo missions and its uncrewed Dragon Demo-1 mission, SpaceX also created its own insignia.
The company also has not shown if its spacesuits will have a place for a mission patch. To date, the sleek black and white garments have only been seen adorned with the American flag, SpaceX logo and NASA insignia.
The reveal of the DM-2 mission patch comes two months after Boeing unveiled its emblem for the first crewed flight test of its Starliner commercial spacecraft. NASA has contracted with both SpaceX and Dragon to fly astronauts to and from the space station, restoring the capability that was lost with the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.
"The launch of crew is something we have been working towards for 17 years," said Musk. "Human spaceflight is the reason that SpaceX was created and we are incredibly honored to partner with NASA to make this happen."
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