Thomas Stafford
Vance Brand
Donald “Deke” Slayton
Alexei Leonov
Valeri Kubasov


Jean Pinataro

Apollo Soyuz Test Project

This is the official American crew patch for the Apollo-Soyuz flight, though the Soviet crew also wore this patch on the flight. The Soviet crew had their own patch which they wore in addition.

The ASTP patch was designed by Jean Pinataro of North American Rockwell, the prime contractor for the Apollo CSM. It was selected by the crew from an industry-wide competition. Pinataro’s initial version of the ASTP patch (shown at left) was submitted by JSC Director Chris Kraft for approval in May 1974, but was disapproved by NASA Headquarters, with the explanation that “since this is a significant international project ... perhaps a patch depicting more of the international significance might merit further consideration.” In mid-June the same patch, without change, was again submitted by Kraft, stating that while the crew had reconsidered the design, they felt that it did, in fact, reflect the international flavor of the flight.

In August, the design was firmly refused, with an offer “to provide funds from the NASA Artist Program for the crew to engage an artist of their choice to help develop a suitable design.”

Under quite restrictive direction from the astronaut office, Pinataro re-designed the patch, with a central vignette derived from Robert McCall’s 1974 painting of the subject. Notably absent from the design is McCall’s signature “cross” sunburst, which was removed due to concerns that it could be percieved as a religious symbol. She recalls: “[the crew] called all the shots on it, like how large to make the vehicles, where to put the sun, and how far the rays should extend, definitely not to the earth, etc. I recall being annoyed that the astronaut’s directions were so explicit that I was unable to connect the three elements in that central area.” In December this significantly re-designed image was submitted for approval, which was finally granted.

The expression of reasons for disapproval of the first design as communicated to the crew were particularly vague. I suspect this was intentional, and that the real reasons were withheld from the crew due to their close working relationship with the Soviet crew. Behind the scenes the real objections were that the design was “cartoonish,” pointing out the stars on the flags: on the American flag the stars were not uniform in size and placement, and on the Soviet side there were two stars (there was actually only one on the Soviet flag); and that the Soyuz spacecraft is made to look larger than the Apollo, when in fact it is smaller. Such petty considerations are the domain of politics, and this was an entirely political endeavor. The final, approved version of the patch had many design elements in common with the first — the biggest change being the removal of the national flag motifs. The Soyuz is still portrayed in a way that makes it seem at least equal in size to the Apollo spacecraft, but this can be explained away as a matter of perspective. Not to mention the fact that this was a virtual copy of an image that had already seen widespread dissemination — making it difficult to object to. Personally, I find it rather amusing to observe that the Soviet crew patch is based on the flag design elements that were removed from the American patch.

“APOLLO” and the American astronaut names appear in Latin script, while “СОЮЗ” (SOYUZ) and the cosmonaut names appear in Cyrillic. The 3 stars in the blue field, and the 2 stars in the red field, represent the American and Soviet crews, respectively.

Robert McCall painting

The painting by Robert McCall which clearly served as the inspiration for the central image of the final ASTP patch. The cross-like rays from the sun were eliminated, due to concern that they might be construed as having religious overtones.

ASTP patch artwork

This is the artwork for the final version of the ASTP crew patch, created by Jean Pinataro, and finalized by Jerry Elmore.

Beta cloth patch

Beta cloth version of the Apollo-Soyuz patch.
88mm w × 89mm h

AB Emblem patch

AB Emblem embroidered Apollo-Soyuz crew patch. The gold border on this patch has metallic threads.
103mm dia

DKS patch

A special AB Emblem embroidered Apollo-Soyuz crew patch. Apparently a set of these 4½″ patches was made for the American ASTP crew, similar to those made for Apollo 17. This one has Slayton’s initials, “DKS”, embroidered in yellow thread at the bottom of the patch. This patch was auctioned as lot #878 in the Fall 2003 Aurora Galleries Space & Aviation Memorabilia Auction (and fetched $1200!).

Lion Brothers patch

Lion Brothers embroidered Apollo-Soyuz crew patch. The crew names run together without any gap between Slayton and Leonov.
101mm dia.

ASTP hallmark

The Lion Brothers hallmark, the letters “ASTP,” can be seen above Leonov’s name in the cloud patterns.


Soviet Crew Patch

Up until the time of this flight, Soviet missions did not have crew patches. While Valentina Tereshkova did have an embroidered dove sewn to the coveralls worn under her pressure suit, it was not Tereshkova’s idea nor design. As such, it clearly was not a “crew patch.” There was the occassional patch worn in the intervening years, such as the blue diamond CCCP on Alexei Leonov’s EVA suit during his spacewalk on Voskhod 2, but these were more-or-less the equivalent of the NASA emblem worn by all astronauts beginning with Alan Shepard’s Mercury flight.

When the American ASTP crew designed their patch, there was some angst about whether to include the cosmonauts names on the patch: would they feel snubbed if not included? Perhaps they would have their own patch? In the end, the cosmonaut names were included and they would have their own patch. But since the Americans included the cosmonauts names on their crew patch, the cosmonauts didn’t want to offend by not wearing that patch — so they ended up wearing both patches.

ASTP project patch

In their eagerness to avoid causing offense, the cosmonauts were positively festooned with patches. This photo of Valeriy Kubasov during flight shows him with two mission patches — one of American design, and one of Soviet — as well as a Soviet crest and flag.
NASA Photo AST-5-305.

ASTP project patch

An original Soviet crew patch. It appears that this patch consisted of a base of red felt, with the remaining colors embroidered on that base. "VII-1975" at the bottom refers to the date of the flight, July 1975. Aleksandr Glushko identifies “V. F. Knor” as the designer. My thanks to Luc van den Abeelen for this image.

Soviet ASTP patch

A reproduction of the Soviet crew patch. This patch shows signs of wear, so it may be an older repro, perhaps made in the Soviet Union.
114mm w × 114mm h

Soviet ASTP patch

A recent reproduction, made in Russia. A distinct lack of attention to detail is evident: the lettering is too small, yet also too bold; the white part of the outer border is far too heavy, the red almost nonexistant. The hammer and sickle is not nearly as delicately rendered as in [soap-em1] and [soap-em2] the stars on the US flag seem almost random.
104mm w × 105mm h

Reproduction Soviet ASTP patch

A fairly terrible reproduction of the Soviet crew patch made, according to John Bisney, by Stewart Aviation of the UK. This one actually makes [soap-em4] look great by comparison.
115mm w × 117mm h