WEAVERVILLE, N.C (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The buzz about Artemis 1’s journey around the moon and back is especially exciting for a North Carolina company. Some 500 miles from the Kennedy Space Center, a company in Weaverville has long had a small part in the success of the space program.
A-B Emblem doesn’t build rocket engines or boosters, but it does give NASA a distinct source of identity.
“Our patches have flown into space and been to the moon,” says co-CEO Andrew Nagle.
The final frontier has been part of the fabric of his corporate culture for decades, and he is proud to have a claim to fame tied to the greatest moments in space exploration.
A-B Emblem makes custom embroidered patches and some batches are more high-profile than others.
“NASA is super excited about the new program. We are blessed and fortunate to be the manufacturers for the Artemis program patches,” Nagle explained.
The sixth-generation family business based in Weaverville has enjoyed the link to space travel for 60 years.
“The family is just so proud, but humbled,” said Nagle.
In the 1960s, the company created the first NASA logo patch known as “The Meatball.” Then, in 1970, A-B Emblem signed a contract to become an exclusive supplier, making every mission and expedition patch sold to NASA that flies in space.
“The astronauts, when we were running the shuttle mission, would put about 600 in a duffle bag. And so every launch, they’d go up and it’s kind of neat; some of your DNA makes it into space,” Nagle told Queen City News.
That’s just a small part of their business.
A-B Emblem also has contracts with the US military. They also produce patches for the private sector, such as emoji patches. Along with its aerospace and defense clients, A-B Emblem makes patches for retailers like REI and LL Bean. They even make the patch for the green jacket that goes to the winner of The Masters golf tournament.
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There’s a lot of interest in these Artemis patches and eventually, with manned missions planned, the demand could really take off.
“When Artemis 2 goes up in I think 2025, and there’s astronauts going to the moon, we’re going to have to plan in advance,” Nagle says.
Moving forward, he believes space exploration will continue to fascinate the American public as it has in years past.
“And I think when we get astronauts flying to the moon again, and when we launch astronauts to Mars… I think these next generations—my kids, my grandkids if I ever have them one day—I do, I don’t think it’ll ever go away,” he said.
With every mission, and every launch, the partnership is a point of pride.
“It’s a long, long history, and you don’t know what your neighbor does,” Nagle says.
Through the years, and for generations, A-B Emblem has learned to love NASA to the moon and back.
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