The 12 patches of Christmas: ‘KSC Artist’ shares his favorite spaceflight designs of 2023


We have seen various versions of the 12 days of Christmas, but for space enthusiasts, let’s sing along to the “12 Space Patches of Christmas” designed by the renowned artist Tim Gagnon. Before we dive into the patches, let us introduce you to Tim Gagnon, an important contributor to the space community. Tim, a native of East Hartford, Connecticut, developed a passion for space at a young age. He vividly remembers watching his childhood heroes’ missions on a small black and white television with limited broadcast stations. To his delight, for his 16th birthday, his parents arranged for him to attend the launch of Apollo 17 as invited guests of NASA.

Inspired by this experience, Tim began painting and creating scrapbooks of female astronauts for his daughter and niece. One of his most significant contributions came from a handwritten note he received from NASA astronaut Judy Resnik, which emphasized the importance of education. Tragically, three days later, Judy Resnik lost her life in the Challenger tragedy. Determined to preserve her message, Tim started volunteering with the Young Astronaut Program and painted remarkable artworks displayed in various locations, including the Center for Space Education and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

However, Tim’s ultimate dream was to design a patch for a flight crew. Although he had come close to achieving this dream in 1985 when NASA astronaut Bob Crippen invited him to submit designs for a space shuttle mission, it was canceled due to the Challenger accident. Nevertheless, in 2004, Tim’s perseverance paid off when he was selected by astronaut John Phillips to design the patch for the Expedition 11 mission to the International Space Station. This opportunity opened doors for Tim, and since then, he has collaborated with Dr. Jorge Cartes of Madrid, Spain, on various patch designs for the Space Shuttle Program and International Space Station crews.

As we approach the end of 2023 and embrace the holiday season, let’s unveil the “12 Space Patches of Christmas.” These patches hold great value to collectors worldwide. Tim has selected his favorite 12 patches of the year, each capturing significant moments in space exploration and filled with history and symbolism.

One of the patches, designed for the Virginia Space Flight Academy’s 25th anniversary, pays tribute to the beginning of the US human space program, with stars symbolizing the Space Task Group’s location at Langley. Another patch showcases the breathtaking view of Earth from space, with the ISS almost playing peek-a-boo. The Tulsa Air and Space Museum Runway Run patch celebrates the achievements of women in space, with a space shuttle and the Canadarm holding onto a dreamcatcher.

The Shades of Blue Airline Symposium patch combines aviation and spaceflight, highlighting both commercial and military aspects. National Astronaut Day 2023 patch commemorates Alan Shepard’s historic flight, Sally Ride’s pioneering journey, and the inaugural Mercury crew and STS-7. Another patch pays tribute to America’s first women astronauts, featuring their last names and the symbol for females, with Judy Resnik being honored on the left side. The Moon Pioneers: Mission One patch features the logo of the Midland International Air and Space Port and Space Nation, with the background representing the colors of the Texas flag.

These are just a few examples of the incredible designs by Tim Gagnon. His dedication, perseverance, and artistic talent have made a significant impact on the space community. So, let’s sing along to the “12 Space Patches of Christmas” and celebrate the wonders of space exploration.



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