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Skylab Program Patch Variations

I noticed that there was a clothed-backed Skylab program patch that differed from the standard A-B Emblem issue in a vew ways:

STS-114 A-B Emblem variations

Crew changes are the most common source of patch variations. STS-114 is no exception. Moderate production of the STS-114 patch had begun when the crew was shuffled. The first version features a smaller shuttle. There are reproductions as well as "fantasy" versions of the early artwork from Randy Hunt. The A-B Emblem original is easy to identify by the solid red outline of the continents as well as the use of a directional embroidery in the continents as well. Patches with a bare cloth backing have been found, which is unusual for A-B Emblem. 

First version:

ISS Expedition 46 Variations

Two "official" versions of the ISS-46 patch were created. Production (of at least 700) of the first version of the patch had been started of the first design with the squared "46". Without explanation, production was ceased and a replacement design with a rounded "46" was started. There was some rumor that the original 46 looked a bit like the insignia of Ukiranian battallion called "Azov Battalion", but there is no confirmation of that. Spaceboosters LTD of the UK also produced their own version of the patch as they were tired of waiting for A-B Emblems to fulfill their order. 

STS-103 A-B Emblem variation

Two versions of the STS-103 patch have been uncovered. The variation may be a lot production error that missed quality control, however. The color variations do not appear to be intentional so it would is likely not a be a crew evaluation version. The number of patches produced is difficult to determine, it could be as few as 25 or as many as 100, but likely a standard production run of 50. They were available for purchase at the Goddard Visistors Center gift shop. 

The differences in the error version:

STS-76 Crew Patch Variations

There are always fun surprises uncovered when researching patches, sometimes where you least expect it. The STS-76 patch is no exception. At first glance the STS-76 appears to be a standard crew patch, issued in the midlife of the shuttle program. The "76" number was used to commemorate the signing of the US Declaration of Independance so the colors are clearly patriotic in red, white and blue and there is much standard symbolism, from the 13 stars to the stars and stripes. 

Souvenir A-B Emblem STS-76 patch:

STS-84 A-B Emblem Variations


There are two distinct variations of the STS-84 crew patch. The differences are actually quite substantial for a patch of this type. A curious thing about this patch is that the rarer variation was flown but not work by the crew on their orange escape suits. I cannot find any evidence that the crew wore this patch, but I do have the variation in KSC packaging as well as in flown presentations. You can see the differences in the yellow flame and in the stack lines of the SRBs. 

Standard A-B Emblem version, as worn by crew:

STS-78 Crew Patch Variations

As a patch collector there's always a modest amount of due diligence involved in both identifying patches and seeing how they fit into the program. Chris Spain has done an amazing job of cataloging crew patches up through the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project on his Crew Patches web site. It's an invaluable resource when trying to identify vintage patches. There aren't such cut and dried resources for STS and later patches, though does a great job of this as well. 

Apollo-Soyuz Test Project Patch Analysis

Thanks to Wikipedia's extremely high resolution photo of the ASTP crews, its possible to examine the 4" Apollo-Soyuz patches that the crew members are wearing. It's evident that the US team have 4" patches affixed to their training jumpsuits while Leonov and Kubasov have theirs temporarily attached. Kubasov's is not in the same position as Leonovs and Leonov's is actual placed over the smaller Apollo-Soyuz patch he already had affixed to his jumpsuit:


How times have changed


I found this article in the November 25, 1969 issue of the Milwaukee Journal. Imagine if this continued to be the official policy of NASA? It's evident that, by the large number of reproductions from that era, the policy was changed. By the same token, it could also explain the rarity of Apollo 11 and 12 crew-worn patches and contractor (Grumman) issues.