- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 23, 2016

The scientists at NASA enjoy Marvel’s characters so much that two of its most popular space cadets will now appear on an official patch: Groot and Rocket Raccoon.

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), and Marvel’s Custom Solutions teamed up for a project that will symbolize all payloads that are going to the national laboratory on the International Space Station (ISS).

“A patch is a really cool idea, and to utilize a Marvel character on a patch for the space station for CASIS, that’s a very cool project,” Darren Sanchez, project manager for Custom Solutions, said in a CASIS YouTube video uploaded Friday.

“It’s exciting for us because this is hopefully the beginning of something that goes beyond just the mission patch. A little bit later this year we hope to unveil an upcoming STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics], initiative that is going to be focused on these particular characters,” Patrick O’Neill, Marketing and communications manager, said.

Director James Gunn, whose “Guardians of the Galaxy” grossed $773 million worldwide in 2014, was awed by the decision.

“So cool. NASA Oasis has paired with Marvel and is using Rocket & Groot as an official emblem for the mission to Mars,” Mr. Gunn wrote. His sequel, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” is set to hit theaters on May 5, 2017.

CASIS Director of Operations and Educational Opportunities Ken Shields said a partnership is just one more way CASIS can find “unique and innovative ways to bring notoriety to the ISS National Laboratory” and its research.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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