Left: The AB Emblem patch, worn during ground operations and by the Soyuz TMA-10M crew on their Sokol suits. Right: The Spacepatches.nl patch, worn in space on all six Kentavr suits and during landing by the Soyuz TMA-09M crew on their Sokols.

Crew & Mission

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Left: The 'Planet of flowers', as submitted by Gennadi Padalka for Expedition-32. Center: The version for Maxim Suraev's crew. Right: The design according to the wishes of Yurchikhin and Kotov.

In January 2011, Expedition-32 commander Gennadi Padalka planned to submit a colorful design as the mission emblem for his crew. It was dubbed 'The planet of flowers' and had been designed by Jorge Cartes from Spain and Tim Gagnon from Florida. While in Houston, however, Padalka was told that a patch had already been approved for Expedition-32. He accepted this and encouraged Jorge and Tim to show the 'Planet of flowers' to the next Russian ISS commander.

Because Expedition-36 commander Pavel Vinogradov was already working on a design, it was shown in April 2011 to Expedition-37 commander Maxim Suraev. Suraev liked it and he chose to use it as his mission insignia. In December 2011, Suraev was replaced by Fyodor Yurchikhin. Yurchikhin decided to keep the patch, but together with Oleg Kotov, he requested some changes. In January, 2012, Yurchikhin took it once more to Houston. There, like Padalka before him, he was told that a patch already existed for his flight. Unlike Padalka, Yurchikhin rejected the NASA-supplied artwork and insisted that the 'Planet of flowers' fly.

Left: NASA's Expedition-37 artwork (still showing the name of Suraev) was rejected by Yurchikhin in January 2012... Right: ...still, NASA ordered AB Emblem to produce it as a patch.

The issue was not resolved yet when in May 2012, AB Emblem was ordered by NASA to start embroidering the design Yurchikhin had rejected. Yurchikhin decided to fight back with the same weapon: the embroidery machine. He planned to wear his own patch during the official photo shoot in Houston in July 2012. It would not come to that: at the Multilateral Crew Operations Panel meeting of June, 2012, NASA admitted their mistake. Yurchikhin was allowed to use his own design, under one condition: that it would not be the 'Planet of flowers'.

Two embroidered versions of the 'Planet of flowers', both produced at the request of Yurchikhin. The left version was a quick production for the crew to wear in the July photoshoot. The right version was produced at a later stage and meant as a memento to be flown on the mission.

Jorge and Tim were asked to design something completely new. Tim opted out, because he was doing more work for NASA and did not want to get caught in a conflict between NASA and the Russians. Instead, Jorge was helped by Luc van den Abeelen (who came up with a background of 'orbits') and Erik van der Hoorn (who made a digital drawing of the ISS - which was also used for the Soyuz TMA-09M and ISS Expedition-47 insignia's). The new design was ready by July 9 and was approved less than two weeks later.

Left: Jorge's first version. Right: the final artwork.

Although Jorge had intended the patch to have a cut edge, which is the way it was produced by AB Emblem, Yurchikhin liked it better with a merrowed border. He ordered these privately from Spacepatches.nl. The AB Emblem (with cut edge) patch was flown on the Sokol suits of the Soyuz TMA-10M crew (Kotov, Ryazanskiy, Hopkins). The Spacepatches.nl patch (with merrowed border) was present on the Expedition-37 onboard Kentavr suits. Also, Yurchikhin's Soyuz TMA-09M crew were wearing these on their Sokol suits during landing.

Spot the patch

The three versions of the Expedition-37 patch sitting peacefully in the Russian segment of the ISS.

The Soyuz TMA-09M crew re-enacting the scene of their patch.

Expedition 37.5

Handover procedures differed slightly for this flight - the Soyuz TMA-09M crew was still onboard when the crew of Soyuz TMA-11M arrived. This was done to be able to pass the torch for the Olympic Wintergames in Sochi from one crew to another. For this short period of the flight, Blake Dumesnil designed an Expeditoon 39.5 patch, worn by several crew members.

Tsenki versions

Tsenki produced both the official patch (left, AB Emblem style) and the 'Planet of flowers'.

Expedition 37 images at NASA Flickr
Expedition 37 discussion at CollectSpace
Expedition 37 on wikipedia
Larger images on our Flickr site