This emblem was developed during the Apollo program for the mission control team to recognize their unique contribution to manned space flight since the Mercury program.
The sigma (E) represents the total mission team, including flight controllers, instructors, flight design and production specialists, and facility development and support teams including all engineering, scientific, operations disciplines, and supporting tasks.
The Shuttle launch represents the dynamic elements of space, the initial escape from our environment, and the thrust to explore the universe. The four stars on the Shuttle’s plume represent the basic principles of the Mission Operations team: discipline, morale, toughness, and competence. Their place along the Shuttle’s plume reminds us that these are the foundation upon which each mission is flown. Today’s core principles include confidence, responsibility, teamwork, and vigilance. Each of these words comes into vocabulary of Mission Operations personnel at critical points in their development. These words can never be forgotten if we are to succeed in the future.
The orbiting International Space Station symbolizes a permanent human presence in space, conducting research and developing materials leading to the commercial utilization of the space environment.
The Earth is our home and will forever be serviced by both manned and unmanned spacecrafts in order to improve our quality of life. A single star is positioned over Houston, the home of U.S. human spaceflight operations.
The comet represents those individuals who have given their lives for space exploration. The seventeen stars represent our fallen astronauts, to whom in part we dedicate our commitment to excellence. These symbols serve as a reminder of the risks inherent to space flight and recognize that we of Mission Operations provide the margin that makes the risk acceptable.
The Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Apollo-Soyuz Test are represented on the bottom border. At the top of the emblem, the Moon and Mars represent our future signifying our intent to lead the way.
The wording “RES GESTA PER EXCELLENTIAM” - “Achieve through Excellence” - is the standard for our work. It represents an individual's commitment to a belief, to craftsmanship, and to perseverance, qualities required to continue the peaceful development of space and the quest for the stars.
The original emblem was designed by Robert T. McCall in April 1973 and bears the inscription “For the Personnel of Mission Control with Great Respect and Admiration. Robert T. McCall.” In 1983, the original emblem was updated to support the Shuttle program. In 2004, with the artistic help of graphic designer Mike Okuda and participation of the Mission Operations team, the emblem was updated to recognize the achievements and contributions of the team supporting the Space Station program as well as those that contributed to the success of the earlier Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz Test Project missions.