June 1, 2011
The crew patch of STS-73, the second flight of the United States Microgravity Laboratory (USML-2), depicts the Space Shuttle Columbia in the vastness of space. In the foreground are the classic regular polyhedrons that were investigated by Plato and later Euclid. The Pythagoreans were also fascinated by the symmetrical three-dimensional objects whose sides are the same regular polygon. The tetrahedron, the cube, the octahedron, and the icosahedron were each associated with the "Natural Elements" of that time: fire (on this mission represented as combustion science); Earth (crystallography), air and water (fluid physics). An additional icon shown as the infinity symbol was added to further convey the discipline of fluid mechanics. The shape of the emblem represents a fifth polyhedron, a dodecahedron, which the Pythagoreans thought corresponded to a fifth element that represented the cosmos. The NASA insignia design for Shuttle flights is reserved for use by the astronauts and for other official use as the NASA Administrator may authorize. Public availability has been approved only in the form of illustrations by the various news media. When and if there is any change in this policy, which we do not anticipate, it will be publicly announced.
Topics: Polyhedra, Deltahedra, Platonic solids, Dodecahedron, Regular polyhedron, STS-73, Icosahedron, Octahedron, Polyhedron, Tetrahedron