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More Than Just Drawings

More Than Just Drawings

Artist and graphic designer Mike Okuda may not be a household name, but you’re more familiar with his work than you know. Okuda’s artistic vision has left a mark here at NASA and on Star Trek. The series debuted 50 years ago in September 1966 and the distinctive lines and shapes of logos and ships that he created have etched their way into the minds of fans and inspired many.  

Flight Ops


The Flight Operations patch has a lengthy history, the original version of which dates to the early 1970s. Having designed a version of the patch, Okuda had some insights about the evolution of the design.

“The original version of that emblem was designed around 1972 by Robert McCall and represented Mission Control. It later changed to Mission Operations. I did the 2004 version, incorporating the space station, and reflecting the long-term goals of returning to the Moon, then on to Mars and beyond. I later did a version intended to reflect the new generation of spacecraft that are succeeding the shuttle, and most recently the 2014 version reflecting the merger of Mission Operations with the Astronaut Office under the new banner Flight Operations.”

“The NASA logos and patches are an important part of NASA culture,” Okuda said. “They create a team identity and they focus pride on a mission.”


In July 2009, Okuda received the NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal, which is awarded to those who are not government employees, but have made exceptional contributions to NASA’s mission. Above, Okuda holds one of the mission patches he designed, this one for STS-125, the final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.



Among the other patches that Okuda has designed for us, it one for the Orion crew exploration vehicle. Orion is an integral of our Journey to Mars and is an advanced spacecraft that will take our astronauts deeper into the solar system than ever before. 

Okuda’s vision of space can be seen in the Star Trek series through his futuristic set designs, a vision that came from his childhood fascination with the space program. 

Learn more about Star Trek and NASA.

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