Patch Sunday

Patch Tuesday is Spill’s gig, whenever he gets around to posting it. But this is too fun to hold onto.

The National Reconnaissance Office is the home of US spy satellite operations. And like most institutions with strong ties to the military, they like morale patches. Unlike most organizations, however, their operations remain very, very secret. So while they have patches commemorating various launches and programs, their patches have to have oblique at best references to their make-up and objectives. Which means enthusiasts spend quite a bit of time speculating on just what is behind the imagery of a given patch.

A purple-haired sorceress holding a fireball. A three-headed dragon wrapping its claws around the world. A great raptor emerging from the flames.

No, these are not characters from a Magic: The Gathering deck. They are avatars depicted on the official mission patches made for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Just as NASA creates specially designed patches for each mission into space, NRO follows that tradition for its spy satellite launches. But while NASA patches tend to feature space ships and American flags, NRO prefers wizards, Vikings, teddy bears and the all-seeing eye. With these outlandish designs, a civilian would be justified in wondering if NRO is trolling.

Unfortunately, given the agency’s extreme secrecy, it’s impossible to answer that question for sure. But based on information that has been leaked about some of the patches, it seems there may be a method to the artistic madness.

It’s a fun read, and there are a lot more patches at the link. Go figure out what they mean.

2 thoughts on “Patch Sunday”

  1. My bet at hints involved: Naval (trident!) Nighttime (Imaging IR? not sure – both Drow and Night Elvers are famous for night vision, also note the night sky in background) observation satellite.

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