Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 has been generating a lot of buzz during the lead-up to and including San Diego Comic Con 2016 where tomorrow it'll have a panel during the Marvel Studios Hall H presentation. The sequel to the outer-space superhero ensemble won't be hitting theaters till summer 2017, but that hasn't stopped fans getting excited about what little we have seen so far. Directed by James Gunn, the followup to Guardians of the Galaxy features the original cast alongside some new faces from the comic books, and this year's SDCC has already shown us a new portrait of Yondu along with a concept art poster featuring the new, and larger team roster.
Now NASA is even getting in on the Guardians action, as a representative from CASIS (the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space) revealed a new mission patch design featuring two of our favorite space-travelling Guardians.
This newest mission patch is for those involved in the National Laboratory on board the International Space Station. The design features an adorable Rocket Raccoon sitting on Groot's shoulder as the pair gaze up at the stars and the International Space Station as it flies overhead. The design was revealed at the panel "Mars Needs People: Putting Humans on the Red Planet", on the sci-fi fascination with Mars and the current advances in space travel that will (hopefully) lead to humans setting foot on our closest planetary neighbor. Patrick O'Neill, a representative for CASIS, was on the panel and revealed the new mission patch, saying that the character's love of space-travel made them the perfect choice.
NASA mission patches are created for each mission, and awarded to both astronauts and ground personnel involved. Although there have been many designs since the first ISIS National Lab patch was created in 2013, this will be the first patch featuring comic book characters. The choice is undoubtedly connected to plans for CASIS's "education flight contest" coming in October, which will also feature the two Guardians.
NASA and nerd-dom are a match made in heaven, so it's fantastic to see the space agency embracing its geeky side. Along with the planned contest this fall, cross-promotion with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 should also create enthusiasm for space travel in a whole new generation of comic book fans who will want to emulate their on-screen heroes. The patch is definitely one of the cutest designs in NASA history, and it draws a wonderful parallel between fictional space travellers and real-life space explorers.
Of course, some may find the adorable design a tad cloying, and wonder if it properly represents the seriousness of these missions. Others may wonder if this seems a little bit like a publicity stunt on Marvel's part, seeing as the sequel is next in line after the release of Doctor Strange in November. Still, it's a cute patch that will make any Marvel fans working for the space agency very happy, and that is all that the mission patch really needs to do.
Doctor Strange opens in U.S. theaters on November 4, 2016, followed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019;Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.