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Space Shuttle cancelled mission patches (to 1986)

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Space Shuttle missions were planned years in advance based on complex combinations of orbiter vehicles, crews, payloads and mission objectives. Delays in the readiness of a particular payload or orbiter could have knock-on effects on multiple planned missions and would sometimes lead to a planned mission being cancelled with the crew being reassigned to a different mission or split up to follow reassigned payloads or mission specialities.

A mission insignia was usually only designed once the misson preparation was fairly well advanced, so in many cases mission were cancelled before any insignia had been created.

A cancellation closer to the planned launch date sometimes meant that an insignia had already been designed, with decals or photos of the finalized insignia being printed, but only occasionally was a mission cancelled so close to the launch date that patches based on the insignia had already been produced and distributed by some embroidery companies.

These original embroidered mission patches for cancelled Shuttle flights are quite collectible, with the rarest versions being highly sought-after and valuable.

Note that in general only those cancelled missions for which embroidered patches were actually produced at the time are covered in the sections below. For some other missions people have produced embroidered patches based on the mission insignia but these can only ever be considered fantasy or replica patches.

Cancelled missions STS-41E / STS-41F / STS-51E

On September 21, 1983, NASA announced the crew of the STS-41E mission as Commander Karol J. Bobko, Pilot Donald E. Williams, and Mission Specialists M. Rhea Seddon, Jeffrey A. Hoffman, and S. David Griggs.

Two months later the crew were reassigned to the STS-41F Discovery mission, for which the insignia shown on the right was created.

In August 1984, not long before the scheduled launch, the STS-41F mission was cancelled.

The STS-41F crew were kept together and reassigned to the STS-51E mission which was due to launch the TDRS-B satellite from Challenger. Added to the crew roster was French Payload Specialist Patrick Baudry.

The insignia for the new STS-51E mission re-used the STS-41F design, simply changing the name of the spacecraft from Discovery to Challenger and adding a tab at the bottom for Baudry's name.

Unfortunately, the change in the spacecraft name that meant that those manufacturers who had already begun production runs of the STS-41F Discovery patch before that mission was cancelled were left with a stock of unusable STS-41F patches on their hands.

As the scheduled February 1985 launch date got closer patch manufacturers AB Emblem and Swissartex set to work producing one-piece patches for the mission, but they were in for a second nasty surprise. In January, less than a month before the scheduled launch, NASA announced that Payload Specialist Jake Garn was being added to the crew.

This meant that the one-piece patches with a "Baudry" name tab were now obsolete, but both companies tried to minimize the damage by taking a manual approach to the problem. The Baudry name tabs were carefully trimmed away by hand and new "Baudry Garn" tabs were manufactured and sewn onto the patch bodies.

Continued problems with the TDRS-B satellite pushed the launch date back from February 20 to March 3, and then to March 7. Finally on March 1, only week before the scheduled launch, and with Challenger already on the launchpad, NASA announced that the STS-51E mission was being cancelled altogether.

The STS-51E mission patches, with their hand-trimmed bodies and sewn-on "Baudry Garn" name tabs, were now redundant.

This time the crew were reassigned to the next available flight - STS-51D Discovery - although due to differences in the payload Patrick Baudry was displaced to another mission to be replaced by Charles Walker.

With Bobko's crew now back on Discovery the original STS-41F insignia was brought back into service, this time with a "Walker Garn" name tab at the bottom. Nearly seven months on from the cancellation of the STS-41F mission the patches that had been produced for that mission by AB Emblem and Swissartex could now be re-used for STS-51D simply by sewing on "Walker Garn" name tabs.

Bobko's crew finally flew on the STS-51D mission on April 12, 1985.




Where do Lion Brothers feature in all this? STS-41F was cancelled only a month or so before launch so it seems likely that the company had already begun production of patches for this mission at the time. As with the other manufacturers the cancellation would have left them with worthless stock on their hands.

We know that Lion Brothers went on to produce patches for the STS-41G and STS-51A missions in late 1984, and for STS-51C which launched in January 1985. This implies that they were likely producing a "Baudry" name tab patch for STS-51E before the addition of Garn which was announced in January 1985. We don't know if they went on to produce "Baudry Garn" name tabs before the last minute cancellation of the mission at the beginning of March but these repeated changes may well have been the reason Lion Brothers stopped producing Shuttle mission patches at around this time.

Perhaps the final straw came when the STS-51D mission ended up using the STS-41F insignia plus a name tab. If the company produced a run of STS-41F patches but then disposed of them some time in the seven months before the STS-51D lineup was announced, only to find they could have re-used them on the new mission, this would have been depressing indeed.

Whatever the story we know that no Lion Brothers patch has been identified for the STS-51D mission or for any that followed.

Embroidered STS-41F Mission Patches

Patch id:

STS-41F AB Emblem patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: AB Emblem
Distribution: Unknown.
Dimensions: 5¼ x 4" / 133 x 103mm
Type: Fully embroidered. Stitched border with cut edge.
Scarcity: Uncommon.
Value: Unknown.
Notes: Most of the AB Emblem STS-41F patches were re-used with sew-on name tabs for the STS-51D mission.
Patch id:

STS-41F Swissartex patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: Swissartex Emblem Inc.
Distribution: At least some examples were sold before the cancellation.
Dimensions: Unknown
Type: Unknown
Scarcity: Uncommon.
Value: Vintage examples sell for $10-$15.
Notes: I had orginally thought that the Swissartex STS-41F mission patch was probably produced without a thick blue merrowed border and that this border was added on later to the STS-51D patches to cover the join between the added "Walker Garn" tab and the original STS-41F body.

However, a Swissartex STS-41F patch sealed in its original KSC packaging shows that this border was indeed used from the start.

This example also shows that Swissartex did in fact put their STS-41F patch on sale before the cancellation of the mission, although how long they were available for is impossible to say.

Patch id:

STS-41F oversize patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: Unknown.
Distribution: Unknown.
Dimensions: Approx 6" across
Type: Unknown
Scarcity: Scarce.
Value: Unknown.
Notes: It has sometimes been suggested that this oversize version of the STS-41F mission patch could be the 'lost' Lion Brothers version. However, the plastic backing on the reverse does not match the styles used by Lion Brothers.
At this time Cape Kennedy Medals were apparently producing Shuttle patches but this patch does not match the rather crude style of the preceding and following patches so it is unlikely to be their product.
It seems most likely to have been made by either Swissartex (the fill thread patterns resemble their style) or by AB Emblems.

Embroidered STS-51E Mission Patches

Patch id:

STS-51E AB Emblem Baudry-only patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: AB Emblem
Distribution: Not distributed.
Dimensions: 5½ x 4⅓" / 141 x 109mm
Type: Fully embroidered. Stitched border with cut edge.
Scarcity: Non-existant!
Value: n/a
Notes: The STS-51E mission patch design (shown here as a mock-up) was created as a one-piece patch with the tab built-in but in January 1985, a month before liftoff, Senator Garn was added to the crew, making this design obsolete.

Since these patches had not yet been distributed, the Baudry tabs were cut off and replaced with a newly-made Baudry-Garn tab. I have not seen an example of the original Baudry patch, and it is quite possible that none escaped the scissors.

Patch id:

STS-51E Swissartex Baudry-only patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: Swissartex Emblem Inc
Distribution: Unknown.
Dimensions: 4⅝" / 118mm across
Type: Fully embroidered. Stitched border with cut edge. Merrowed border added.
Scarcity: Very rare.
Value: Unknown.
Notes: This is a rare example of the Swiss Artex STS-51E patch with an intact Baudry-only tab. Oddly, a thick pale blue border has been added around the whole patch, which makes me wonder if this was released after the cancellation of the STS-51E mission, with the overall look of the patch being adapted to match the previously-released Baudry-Garn version.
Patch id:

STS-51E Swissartex Baudry-only trimmed patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: Swissartex Emblem Inc
Distribution: Unknown.
Dimensions: 4⅝" / 118mm across
Type: Fully embroidered. Stitched border with cut edge.
Scarcity: Very rare.
Value: Unknown.
Notes: This is an rare example of the Swiss Artex STS-51E patch where the Baudry-only tab has been trimmed away but no outer border has yet been added to cover the traces of the old tab. Most examples would have had this border added then a new Baudry-Garn tab sewn on.
Patch id:

STS-51E AB Emblem Baudry-Garn patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: AB Emblem
Distribution: Available commercially for a limited time.
Dimensions: 5½ x 4⅓" / 141 x 109mm
Type: Fully embroidered. Stitched border with cut edge.
Scarcity: Uncommon.
Value: Approx $15-$50
Notes: The original AB Emblem Baudry-tabbed one-piece patches were produced with a dark blue outer edge, and the first sew-on "Baudry Garn" name tabs were also produced with the same dark blue edging. The example above shows this combination of matching body and tab.

The dark blue edging stands out where the pale blue stitched borders of the body and add-on tab meet so a second generation of patch bodies and a matching second generation of sew-on tabs were produced with a pale blue outer edge. An example of a patch consisting of a second generation body and second generation tab is shown here.

When the pale blue edged patch bodies and sew-on tabs arrived there seems to have been some overlap whereby some original dark blue edged bodies had pale blue edged second generation tabs attached, and some pale blue edged second generation bodies had dark blue edged first generation tabs attached, as can be seen with this example.

Patch id:

STS-51E Swissartex Baudry-Garn patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: Swissartex Emblem Inc
Distribution: Unknown.
Dimensions: 4⅝ x 3½" / 118 x 90mm
Type: Fully embroidered. Stitched border with cut edge. Merrowed border added.
Scarcity: Uncommon.
Value: Unknown.
Notes: This patch body would have started out like the trimmed example shown above. A thick blue border was added around the whole patch to hide the traces of the old Baudry tab, and a new Baudry-Garn tab (with matching thick blue border) was sewn-on at the bottom.

Cancelled mission STS-51D "Jarvis Walker"

The insignia shown on the right was created for the original STS-51D mission, with a crew consisting of Commander Dan C. Brandenstein, Pilot John O. Creighton, Mission Specialists John M. Fabian, Steven R. Nagel and Shannon W. Lucid, and Payload Specialists Greg Jarvis and Charles D. Walker.

However, the cancellation of the STS-51E mission led to the remanifest of the STS-51D mission, with most of Bobko's STS-51E crew being moved to STS-51D and the core of Brandenstein's STS-51D crew being moved to STS-51G.

A different payload on the STS-51G mission meant that Payload Specialists Jarvis and Walker were replaced by Patrick Baudry (originally scheduled to fly on STS-51E) and Saudi Prince Sultan Al-Saud.

The STS-51G mission insignia re-used the original STS-51D design with just the names of the Payload Specialists being changed in the tab at the bottom

AB Emblem had already begun production of embroidered versions of the original STS-51D mission patch (featuring a sewn-on "JARVIS WALKER" name tab) and put some examples on sale before the mission was re-manifest, but were able to re-use most of the patch bodies for the STS-51G mission with a different sew-on tab.

Embroidered STS-51D "Jarvis Walker" Mission Patches

Patch id:

STS-51D "Jarvis Walker" AB Emblem patch

Worn by crew? Yes, for crew photos.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: AB Emblem
Distribution: Limited commercial release.
Dimensions: 4 x 4¾" / 104 x 119mm
Type: Fully embroidered. Merrowed edge.
Scarcity: Very rare.
Value: Examples have sold in recent years for $330 to $677[1]
Notes: As only a hundred or so examples of this patch are thought to have been distributed before the re-manifest of the STS-51D mission, which means that original examples of this "Jarvis Walker" patch are highly sought-after. The highest price has been fetched by an example mounted on a crew-signed presentation given to a NASA employee around the time of the cancellation.
Patch id:

STS-51D "Jarvis Walker" replica patch

Worn by crew? Yes, for crew photos.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: Unknown
Distribution: Unknown
Dimensions: Unknown
Type: Fully embroidered. Merrowed edge.
Scarcity: Unknown
Value: Unknown
Notes: This patch appears to be a replica of the STS-51D "Jarvis-Walker" patch, produced as a one piece design.

Missions cancelled following the loss of Challenger

The loss of Challenger in January 1986 led to the immediate cancellation of the whole string of Shuttle launches scheduled to follow it - STS-61E which was scheduled for a March 6 launch, STS-61F scheduled for May 15, STS-61G sheduled for May 20 1986, and so on.

Of these missions, only STS-61E was close enough to launch that embroidered patches of the mission insignia had already entered into production. Mission insignia for STS-61F and STS-61G had been designed but no embroidered versions had been produced at the time of their cancellation, so only replica versions of these patches exist.

Embroidered STS-61E Mission Patches

Patch id:

STS-61E AB Emblem patch

Worn by crew? Yes, for crew photos.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: AB Emblem
Distribution: Limited commercial release.
Dimensions: 4 x 4¾" / 104 x 119mm
Type: Fully embroidered. Merrowed edge.
Scarcity: Extremely rare.
Value: Examples have sold in recent years for $523 to $863[2]
Notes: Only an estimated 50 or so of the original sew-on-tab STS-61E mission patches were distributed before the cancellation of the flight, making this a very rare patch indeed.
Multiple replicas exist but are all one piece designs. The original can also be distinguished by its silver border thread and by the large exposed dark blue area above the names on the sew-on tab.
Patch id:

STS-61E replica patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: Unknown
Distribution: Unknown
Dimensions: 4 x 4¾" / 104 x 119mm
Type: Fully embroidered. Merrowed edge.
Scarcity: Unknown
Value: Unknown
Notes: Commonly mistaken for rare originals, this modern replica STS-51E patch is a one-piece design with grey border thread (instead of the silver of the original).
Patch id:

STS-61E replica patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: Unknown
Distribution: Unknown
Dimensions: 4 x 4¾" / 104 x 119mm
Type: Fully embroidered. Merrowed edge.
Scarcity: Unknown
Value: Unknown
Notes: Another modern STS-61E replica patch this one too is a one piece patch with grey border thread. Unlike the original and the replica above this version uses lowercase lettering for the crew names.
Patch id:

STS-61E Randy Hunt replica patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: Randy Hunt
Distribution: Unknown
Dimensions: Unknown
Type: Fully embroidered. Merrowed edge.
Scarcity: Unknown
Value: Unknown
Notes: Randy Hunt's relica version of the STS-61E replica patch looks the closest to the original patch due to the shape of the tab area at the bottom, but unlike the original the replica is a one-piece patch.
Patch id:

STS-61E replica patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: Unknown
Distribution: Unknown
Dimensions: Unknown
Type: Fully embroidered. Merrowed edge.
Scarcity: Unknown
Value: Unknown
Notes: Another modern STS-61E replica patch, similar to the first replica shown above.
Footnotes

[1] Example sales of STS-51D Jarvis-Walker patches:
     Aurora Fall 2003 lot 1074 sold at $275
     eBay item no. 7753589271 Mar 28, 2006, sold at $195.49
     eBay item no. ? Jan 7, 2007, sold at $217.50
     eBay item no. ? Apr 7, 2007, sold at $137.50
     Lunar Legacies sale Feb 19, 2011, sold at $460
     eBay item no. 180831047022 Mar 6, 2012, sold at $432
     eBay item no. 251187173923 Nov 26, 2012, sold at $420
     eBay item no. 170980844416 Feb 2, 2013, sold at $330.65
     eBay item no. 181075295118 Feb 8, 2013, sold at $349.99
     eBay item no. 130860303474 Mar 7, 2013, sold at $677 [on Crew signed presentation]

[2] Example sales of STS-61E patches:
     Lunar Legacies auction Feb 19, 2011, sold at $862.50
     eBay item no. 370563610023 Dec 4, 2011, sold at $523

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