STS-135 Mission Patch – A Student Design Competition

DEADLINE: Mission Patches are due to NCESSE (see address below) by close of business (EDT) Friday June 3, 2011.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) overseen by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education is about inspiring America’s next generation of scientists and engineers, and engaging entire communities in the process. Student teams proposing real experiments to fly on STS-135, the final flight of Space Shuttle Atlantis—and the final flight of the U.S. Space Shuttle Program—is the core SSEP activity. But community-wide engagement, and cross-disciplinary learning are also cornerstone objectives for SSEP in the context of the embraced Learning Community Model for STEM education (see the Community Program page.)

In this spirit, for both STS-134 and STS-135, we’re providing the opportunity for students across your community to design a Mission Patch—a paper 4-inch x 4-inch square emblem that captures your SSEP experience. We will then fly your Mission Patch in space as part of the payload containing your experiment. It is also an opportunity to keep community-wide excitement alive post experiment selection while we’re all waiting for launch, and a means to extend the program in an interdisciplinary manner to engage, e.g., art and design classes.

While participation should be open to at least the students participating in the SSEP experiment design competition (which is limited to grades 5-12), we encourage each community to broaden participation by opening the design competition to wider student involvement across grades K-12, and to classes beyond STEM disciplines.

At right is the Mission Patch from Omaha North High Magnet School in Nebraska which is flying with their experiment on STS-134. Click on their emblem to see it up close and personal. See all the Mission Patches flying on STS-134 at the SSEP Community Network Hubsite.

On return from space, your Mission Patch will be returned to you for your community to display. It will be a testament to the participation by your students, teachers, and community in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, and recognition that your community was part of America’s Space Shuttle Program at this historic moment.


1. The emblem should be a 4-inch x 4-inch piece of paper, and its design should reflect pride in your community, and your participation in the SSEP.

2. There is no restriction on the type of paper or the inks to be used.

3. The emblem can be black&white or full color.

4. The emblem can only be composed of a single sheet of 4-inch x 4-inch paper and the ink on the paper.

5. The emblem cannot include multiple layers of paper glued or taped on top of one another.

6. The emblem is to be designed with participation open to students from across the segment of your community participating in experiment design, and can certainly be broadened to participation by other students, teachers, and community members as you see fit.

7. We require a jpg image of the emblem so we can display it on the SSEP website.

8. Your community is responsible for the cost of FedEx to: 1) mail the Mission Patch to NCESSE, and 2) for its return to you after the flight.

All communities should send their emblem to the following address, so that it is received by June 3, 2011:

National Center for Earth and Space Science Education
Attn: SSEP Emblem
PO Box 3806
Capitol Heights, MD 20791

The jpg image of you emblem should be sent to Dr. Harri Vanhala, National SSEP Program Manager, at:

From the entire SSEP National Team to all the students, teachers, and administrators in your community, have fun with the Mission Patch Design competition!

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks LLC, which are working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.