This publicity slide from NASA in 1972 (?), explaining how wonderfully useful and flexible the Space Shuttle would be, has an intriguing image in the lower right.

enter image description here

(NASA MH72-5017, via David Portree)

The "international" use is illustrated with a globe showing the US flag, the UK flag, and then a white flag with a single vertical blue bar on the right.

Its an odd selection. As I understand it, the UK had not committed to any kind of detailed partnership in the Shuttle program, and when it did come in, it came through as part of ESA. ESA did not exist in 1972 - its precedessor ESRO did, and was involved in the early Spacelab plans, but I can't work out if it would have had its own flag or not. And again the UK was part of it, not involved independently.

Wikipedia indexes many blue-and-white flags, but none that match this layout.

So: is this one a placeholder? Is it ESRO? Is it someone else who was interested in being a Shuttle partner? And why the UK flag on its own...


1 Answer 1


Most likely ESRO

There is a 1973 document for ESRO detailing "File: ESRO-728 06/07/1973-27/07/1973 Draft Memorandum of Understanding between NASA and ESRO for a cooperative programme on development, procurement and use of Space Laboratory in conjunction with SPACE SHUTTLE system"

To be found in their archives (direct link to rather big 1465-page .pdf file) page 138, at http://archives.eui.eu/files/inventories/15299.pdf

So as early as 1973 there was at least some level of formal cooperation between NASA and ESRO regarding the Space Shuttle Program.

Could not find any sort of a flag for ESRO, but their logo used the same shade of blue-on-white as that flag.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think you must be right - the colours of the logo seem to be a pretty sound hint it's the ESRO flag. I guess preliminary discussions were already underway when the visual was drawn up. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 11:18
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ And the UK flag may just be because it's a flag of an ally that most Americans would recognize. $\endgroup$
    – Barmar
    Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 15:25

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