NASA introduced a new group of astronauts last week, and on the flight suits they sported a Flight Operations emblem that Michael Okuda -- the longtime lead graphic designer for Star Trek -- designed for the Johnson Space Center. It's the latest descendent of the original Mission Control/Mission Operations emblem created by Gene Kranz and Robert McCall.

"I'm honored that this emblem helps to represent the commitment and courage of these remarkable men and women whose work on the final frontier literally takes them where no one has gone before," Okuda told He had also designed the STS-125 mission patch, worn by the crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2009 when they conducted the final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.

Okuda also offered additional background details. The original Mission Control emblem was designed, as noted, by two space legends, famed artist Robert McCall and iconic flight director Gene Kranz. They used the Greek sigma symbol, which in mathematics refers to a total, to represent the teamwork at the very heart of the Mission Control family. Over the years, the emblem evolved to include the Space Shuttle. In 2004, flight director Jeff Hanley, then head of Mission Operations, asked Okuda to update the emblem to include the International Space Station as well as NASA's long-term goals of returning to the Moon, and then on to Mars. Okuda, since then, has revised the emblem twice more, most recently to reflect the merging of Mission Operations with the Astronaut Office. Okuda explained that the current version, now bearing the banner Flight Operations, represents both the astronaut corps and the mission operations team.

To learn more about the 2017 NASA Astronaut Candidates, go to

And don't forget that the updated The Star Trek Encyclopedia Revised and Expanded Edition, by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda, is available via Harper Collins. It features a fully new design, illustrations and exhaustively researched and detailed entries on the ships, characters and events from the most recent 17 years of Star Trek television shows and movies (up to Star Trek Into Darkness). Go to to order the book.

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