Donald “Deke” Slayton
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.
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.