Crew & Mission

From left to right: Alexander Misurkin, Pavel Vinogradov (ISS Expedition-36 commander), Chris Cassidy, Luca Parmitano, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Karen Nyberg. The patch artwork shown is the official NASA version, including the 'Y' in Misurkin.

The first three crewmembers for Expedition-36 arrived aboard the International Space Station on March 28, 2013 aboard Soyuz TMA-08M. Pavel Vinogradov, Chris Cassidy and Alexander Misurkin joined the Expedtion-35 crew of commander Chris Hadfield, Roman Romanenko and Tom Marshburn. Expedition-36, with Vinogradov at the helm, started on May 13, 2013 with the departure of Hadfield, Romanenko and Marshburn aboard the Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft. Additional Expedition-36 crewmembers Fyodor Yuchikhin, Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano arrived by Soyuz TMA-09M on May 29, 2013. Expedition-36 ended on September 10, 2013 with the departure of Vinogradov, Cassidy and Misurkin aboard Soyuz TMA-08M; Yurchikhin took over command of the station for the duration of Expedition-37.


The original Expedition-36 patch and artwork designed by Blake Dumesnil for Chris Cassidy. The official patch description: 'The dynamic design of the Expedition 36 patch portrays the International Space Station's (ISS) iconic solar arrays. The slanted angles denote a kinetic energy leading from the Earth in the lower right to the upper left tip of the triangular shape of the patch, representing the infinite scientific research, education, and long-duration spaceflight capabilities the ISS provides with each mission, as well as our goal for future exploration beyond the Space Station. The blue and gold color scheme of the patch represents the subtle way the central gold orbit wraps around the number 36 to form a trident at its lower right tip. The trident also symbolizes the sea, air, and land, all of which make up the Earth from where the trident originates in the design'.

In early August 2011, 20 months before the start of the mission, AB Emblem was given the green light by NASA to start producing a patch for ISS Expedition-36. The official artwork was released a month later. It had been designed by Blake Dumesnil from Houston, already famous for winning NASA's final Space Shuttle mission commemorative patch contest, working together with astronaut Chris Cassidy. ,,I have always found the early Space Age/Tomorrowland-era design work to be beautifully simplistic and very effective'', Dumesnil stated on CollectSpace. ,,I thought this styling might be a fresh approach to showcasing the ISS and placed focus on the iconography of the solar arrays.'' The trident on the patch, Dumesnil noted, was also a homage to Cassidy's background as a Navy SEAL.

The design was greeted with great enthusiasm by the space community, but caught Expedition-36 commander Pavel Vinogradov by surprise: he had never been consulted about the artwork nor the production of the patch. In fact, when he was handed the embroidered patch, he was still working on his own design, based on his earlier Expedition-13 insignia. It included the Moon, Mars and, unlike Dumesnil's artwork, the crew's names.

It was not the first time that a Russian ISS commander had been overlooked by NASA during the patch design and approval process. The issue was discussed at the Multilateral Crew Operations Panel in June 2012. Here it was confirmed that organizing a patch was the responsibility of the Expedition commander and that he had up to 18 months before his mission to come up with a design. Since the NASA artwork for Expedition-36 had already been officially released, Pavel was asked to make the necessary changes to the existing Expedition-36 patch, a compromise he accepted.

Left: the new version of the patch from September 2012 with lower case Cyrillics. Right: the 'corrected', official NASA version of October 2012 with the non-existing Cyrillic character 'Y' in Misurkin's name.

In September 2012, the new patch (with Moon, Mars, flags and names added) was approved by NASA. Soon, and luckily before mass production started, it was discovered that somewhere, something had gone wrong: the Russian names on the patch contained a mix of upper and lower case Cyrillic characters. The patch was redesigned for a second time, but now, a new mistake was introduced in Alexander Misurkin's name: the 'U' was written as a capital 'Y', not a valid character in Cyrillic. Although the mistake was noted in time to make a correction, NASA refused to do so.

When in turned out to be impossible to solve the situation through official channels, a private order was placed for the crew with AB Emblem for corrected patches. In addition to the 'U' in Misurkin, the name of Vinogradov was given a different 'D', because it looked too much like the 'A' next to it. The new patches were ready in November 2012, well in time to be flown on both the Sokol and Kentavr suits.

Spot the patch

The three Expedition-36 patches that were on the Sokols of Fyodor Yurchikhin, Luca Parmitano and Karen Nyberg during the Soyuz TMA-09M launch, are floating inside the ISS cupola. The three crewmembers changed these for Expedition-37 patches for the landing leg of their journey.

Vinogradov's patch

Pavel Vinogradov was still making sketches when NASA's patch was released. He wanted to base the Expedition-36 patch on that of Expedition-13.

The Moon, Mars, flags and the crew's names were added to Blake Dumesnil's patch in August/September 2012. These elements had come from Pavel Vinogradov's own design, which had been based on his earlier Expedition-13 patch, also designed himself. Pavel wanted this patch to pair up with the crew's Soyuz TMA-08M patch, which was based on his earlier Soyuz TMA-8 insignia.

In early 2012, Vinogradov learned that Expedition-37 commander Fyodor Yurchikhin was experiencing similar problems with NASA about the approval of his patch. Because NASA seemed to be deaf to the cosmonauts' wishes, Yurchikhin and Vinogradov decided to have their own patches privately produced and wear these during the official photoshoot in Houston in July, 2012. It did not come to that: the problem was resolved in June 2012. The unofficial Russian patches were now flown aboard the ISS as personal memento's.

Left: Pavel Vinogradov's Expedition-36 patch. Right: aboard the ISS, peacefully sitting next to that of Blake Dumesnil.

EVA patches

EVA (or VKD in Russian) patches, based on Vinogrado'v design, were made for Russian spacewalks 33 (June 24, 2013), 34 (August 13, 2013) and 35 (August 22, 2013) with a red border for Fyodor Yurchikhin and a blue border for Alexander Misurkin.

Left: During EVA-33, two of the patches where attached to an equipment container along with a full size replica of Valentina Tereshkova's embroidered dove. Right: Yurchikhin's suit prior to EVA-33.

Other official versions

Left: The patch as produced in Russia by Tsenki. Right: The simplified shirt version.

Expedition 36 images at NASA
Expedition 36 discussion at CollectSpace
Expedition 36 on wikipedia
Larger images on our Flickr site