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To Infinity and Beyond...Our Appliqué Flags Travel to Outer Space

April 16, 2018
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Flag On the Moon
Flags on the Moon

After a three-day, 240,000-mile trip, Apollo 11 made history on July 20th, 1969 when it became the first manned spacecraft to land on the moon. In a triumph of human engineering and perseverance, astronaut Neil Armstrong addressed the world as he descended the steps of the spacecraft's lunar module and put the first human footprints on the moon. "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," he said.

Minutes later, astronaut Buzz Aldrin stepped down the ladder and joined Armstrong. Before they returned to earth, they planted an American flag on the surface of the moon. Subsequent Apollo missions would follow suit, leaving a total of six American flags on the lunar surface by the time the Apollo program ended in 1972, according to NASA. But what happened to these flags? Are they still there after decades on the moon?

On the way to returning to earth, Astronaut Aldrin said he saw how the flag was knocked over by the spaceship blast, but the flag that Armstrong and Aldrin planted on the moon was made with basic, regular fabric so there was almost no chance that the flag would survive on the rough lunar environment. It was purchased from the New Jersey-based flag company called Annin for $5.55, which has manufactured flags in the US since 1847. In 2008, an employee from Annin, Dennis Lacarrubba, told the Smithsonian museum that he thought the flag would be ashes by now.

However, after 40 years since the last Apollo mission, NASA would find out what happened. In 2009, NASA launched the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, or LROC, and three years later, it sent back images that confirmed that the flags planted by the crewmembers of Apollo 11 and possibly Apollo 15 had not only survived but were still standing. The pictures were taken in different stages of the day and there's evidence of a constant movement of the shadows, which upholds the theory that, somehow the flags are still there.

Did You Know U.S Flags Aren't the Only Flags That Have Been to Outer Space?

Custom Appliqué Flag In Outer Space
The Georgia Institute of Technology's custom appliqué flag went to outer space in 2008 when Robert S. Kimbroug, a NASA astronaut and Georgia Tech alumnus, took the flag on his six-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Before Kimbroug left, he visited Georgia Tech and wanted to take something from his alma mater with him on the mission. Some students gave him a "Give 'Em Hell Tech" custom appliqué flag, which had been a treasured part of the university's tradition since 1961. Unlike the Apollo-era flags, this one was made by Southern Tailors Fabric Imaging.

When Kimbrough came back to Earth, he returned the flag to the school's athletic director during a homecoming ceremony. It was a great honor for us to create a custom appliqué flag that would become part of the storied history of Georgia Tech.

Appliqué: A Great Option

Custom Appliqué Flags
The Georgia Tech flag was made using a technique called appliqué, which is a traditional process used since the oldest forms of fabric design, that consists of sewing separate pieces of fabric onto a base material, to complete the final design. Appliqué is used for interior and exterior applications and has long-lasting results. The term appliqué comes from the French word appliquer, which means "to attach or apply," and that's what this process is all about, applying layers of fabric to a base surface and sewing them together. A layer must be created for each color on a computer or by hand. Often, the layers are hot-knifed. This technique can create stunning results, although color is restricted to fabric colors produced by manufacturers and details are limited to what can be cut into fabric. The purpose of Appliqué is to create unique designs, which makes it a great option for logos, school and company flags.

Southern Tailors Fabric Imaging is recognized for its superior work in fabric imaging. Our product line includes Flags, Banners, Media Backdrops, Retractable Banners, Portable Displays, Table Draping, Table Runners, Gonfalons and much more. Our experience and our commitment to quality production enables us to be experts in our field and even make a flag that would be flown in outer space.

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