Following closely on the heels of the Discovery Chase Team and Endeavour Final Flight designs, we created what was planned to be the final current-event emblem for a space shuttle-related milestone. We had always planned to have a trio of emblems, and it was time for Atlantis to be represented. The success of the Discovery design led us to recycle the flowing banner shape and improve upon it.
Carrying forward the idea from the Endeavour design, we placed silhouettes of Atlantis' most historic payloads and missions within the ribbon. Known for her interplanetary ties, the Magellan and Galileo probes were placed next to her name at the top of the design. Mir and the Hubble Space Telescope hover behind over her tail, while her most visible mission content, the International Space Station, remains in the sky overhead as a more permanent reminder of her historic achievements in space.
A total of thirty-three stars encircle the orbiter (shown in her planned display configuration), symbolizing her thirty-three historic spaceflights. The bottom four of these stars rest between her dates of entry and removal from service - 1985 and 2011. These bottom four stars also represent her airframe number (OV-104) and the fact that Atlantis was the fourth space-worthy orbiter to enter service with NASA's space shuttle fleet. Three more stars adorn the sky overhead, signifying the completion of three decades of service by the orbiter.
- Nathan Moeller