In 2011, the US government created the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to manage the US National Laboratory aboard the International Space Station,. With the purpose of ensuring that research opportunities provided by the ISS are used to their full potential, CASIS also seeks to inspire new generations of students to become involved in STEMs research and space exploration.
With the next generation in mind, CASIS recently announced the creation of a new mission patch that is sure to appeal to sci-fi fans and space enthusiasts! The patch features Groot and Rocket Raccoon, two characters from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, and was designed by Marvel Comic’s Custom Solution Group. For the remainder of 2016, it will represent all payloads that are destined for the ISS’ US National Laboratory.
The announcement came at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con, where tens of thousands of fans were gathered to witness the latest from their favorite sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book franchises. In between all the trailers and fanfare, members of CASIS held a panel discussion to talk about their collaboration with Marvel, and explained why it was these two Guardians characters that were selected to promote activities aboard the ISS.
As Patrick O’Neill, a representative of CASIS, was quoted by The Verge as saying: “These are characters who have a bit of a space-based background to begin with. So both of [these] characters already embody some of the characteristics associated with what’s happening on the space station.”
The patch – which was designed by famed Marvel artist “Juan Doe” – features Groot and Rocket Racoon staring up at the ISS, which is floating overhead. In and around them, stars that are made to look like the flames from the Guardian of the Galaxy shield are positioned. In addition to being artistically creative, the symbolism could not be more clear: pop-culture icons and the ISS National Lab coming together to raise awareness about important scientific research!
During 2016, the U.S. National Lab plans to conduct over 100 science investigations aboard the ISS, with experiments involving the physical and material sciences, technological development, Earth observation and student inquiries. Thanks to its partnership with Marvel, the Guardians-inspired patch will adorn every payload that is sent to the ISS as part of these research initiatives.
Obviously, this partnership has been a good way for Marvel to promote one of the latest installments in its cinematic universe (not to mention its upcoming sequel). But for CASIS, it was also an opportunity to draw attention to the work of the U.S. National Lab. Traditionally, CASIS is responsible for providing seed money to research projects and product development. But a major aspect of their work also includes providing expertise, access, support, and educational outreach.
As Ken Shields, the CASIS Director of Operations and Educational Opportunities, said in a CASIS press release:
“A major mission for us here at CASIS is to find unique and innovative ways to bring notoriety to the ISS National Laboratory and the research that is being conducted on our orbiting laboratory. There are very few brands in the world who have as large an impact as Marvel, and we are thrilled to partner with them on this project and look forward to Rocket and Groot inspiring a new generation of researchers interested in the space station.”
Later this year, CASIS also hopes to use these characters in an upcoming educational flight contest intended to inspire children to become the next generation of scientists and engineers. News of the mission patch also came amidst announcements that Rocket and Groot will be star in their own Rocket Raccoon and Groot comic, and will be returning to the big screen next summer for Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
Obviously, this is going to be a good year for a certain tree alien and hyper-raccoon! And be sure to check out this video of the creation of the new mission patch, courtesy of CASIS:
Further Reading: iss-casis.org