(February 1999) --- Designed by the crew members, this is the mission insignia for the STS-96 space flight, the second Space Shuttle mission dedicated to the assembly of the International Space Station (ISS). The crew patch highlights the major themes of the Station Program: Earth-directed research, the advancement of human space exploration, and international cooperation. The Space Shuttle Discovery is depicted shortly after reaching orbit as the crew prepares to carry out the first docking with the new Station. At this early stage in its construction, ISS consists of two modules: Zarya and Unity, shown orbiting Earth.
The triangular shape of the patch represents building on the knowledge and experience of earlier missions, while the three vertical bars of the astronaut emblem point toward future human endeavors in space. The five-pointed star that tops the astronaut emblem in this depiction is symbolic of the five space agencies participating in the development of ISS: NASA, the Russian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, the National Space Development Agency of Japan, and the Canadian Space Agency. The blend of red, white, and blue is a tribute to the nationalities of the crew members who are from the United States, Canada, and Russia.