ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet’s Alpha mission patch.
Designed by ESA’s graphic artists, the Alpha patch features a rocket launch – the most dramatic moment in any space mission. Around the patch are 17 coloured slots representing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
At the top, the International Space Station is stylised in the colours of the French flag. Ten stars sparkle in the background, evoking the Centaurus constellation, and the number of French citizens who have flown to space.
The name of Thomas’s second mission to the International Space Station was selected from over 27 000 entries to an ESA competition. The first to submit this name was Christelle de Larrard from Mios, Gironde, France.
“There were many reasons to choose Alpha as a mission name,” says Thomas. “It connects to my first mission, Proxima, as the stars belong to the same system close to Earth, and therefore convey the same idea of proximity (such as space research for people on Earth) and an idea of continuation in my work. Alpha, a Greek letter, is also widely used in mathematics, science and technology. And, as the first letter of the alphabet, it is often synonymous with the excellence we try to achieve in space exploration.”
Alpha was also the original denomination of the International Space Station, and is still used today as its radio call sign. The word is pronounced the same in almost every language, resulting in a simple yet meaningful mission name for the first astronaut to fly on a new generation of US crewed spacecraft.