The history of Soviet mission patches begins with one of space travel’s most significant achievements. In 1963, Valentina Teresknova made history as the first woman in space. Her call sign was Chayka—Seagull—and under it, she completed 48 orbits of Earth. As she did so, hidden from view, sewn onto the thermal garment under her orange space suit, was the first mission emblem. It depicted a dove of peace flying in the sun’s rays, and underneath, in blocky red text, the letters CCCP. Teresknova called it a seagull, after her call sign.
A few months ago I met an astronaut at the Intrepid Museum. He was extremely extremely cool — patient, friendly, relaxed in front of a crowd, excited about his work and the bigger picture of doing science in space. And he had the coolest collection of patches (including one for 100 days in space).
They’re a bit like grown-up Boy Scouts/Girl Guides patches — or a more child-like, illustrated version of standard military ribbons/medals. Either way, I’ve always found the visual symbolism — narrative, yet independent of spoken or written language — fascinating and delightful.
In other words, I really want this book.