STS-79 CREW INSIGNIA --- STS-79 is the fourth in a series of NASA docking missions to the Russian Mir Space Station, leading up to the construction and operation of the International Space Station (ISS). As the first flight of the Spacehab Double Module, STS-79 encompasses research, test and evaluation of ISS, as well as logistics resupply for the Mir Space Station. STS-79 is also the first NASA-Mir American crew member exchange mission, with John E. Blaha (NASA-Mir-3) replacing Shannon W. Lucid (NASA-Mir-2) aboard the Mir Space Station. The lettering of their names either up or down denotes transport up to the Mir Space Station or return to Earth on STS-79. The patch is in the shape of the Space Shuttle's airlock hatch, symbolizing the gateway to international cooperation in space. The patch illustrates the historic cooperation between the United States and Russia in space. With the flags of Russia and the United States as a backdrop, the handshake of Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) - suited crew members symbolizes mission teamwork, not only of the crew members but also the teamwork between both countries' space personnel in science, engineering, medicine and logistics.
A Different Story...
The patch design for STS-79 also sparked some controversy. Created to symbolize the first shuttle/Mir docking, the original artist's sketch depicted a Russian and an American astronaut shaking hands, the Russian flag on the left and the American flag on the right. To the artist, it seemed to be a harmless display of cooperation, but NASA management struck down this design. It was decided that in a show of patriotism, the American flag would always fly above or to the left of the Russian flag on all NASA emblems. The patch was redesigned accordingly.