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Zvezda 'Rocket'


The arrowhead shaped CCCP logo was the first Soviet space patch that was publicly seen. It was worn on the protective layer of the Berkut spacesuit on March 18, 1965, by Alexei Leonov during his famous spacewalk outside Voskhod-2. (His crewmate Pavel Beljayev was also wearing it on his Berkut). We assume the Soviets knew that pictures of Leonov outside his spaceship would be published all over the world. American astronauts were wearing fancy NASA-meatball patches on their suits; the CCCP-patch was probably meant as a Soviet counterpart. Since personalized designs were not encouraged by the Soviet system, the patch probably represented the Zvezda factory who had built the Berkut-suit. We will therefore refer to it as the Zvezda 'Rocket'

Left, center: The Zvezda 'Rocket' seen on the Berkut-suit of Alexei Leonov in March 1965. Right: The patch photographed in the Zevzda museum by Novosti Kosmonavtiki's Igor Marinin.

The patch seemed to be connected to Zvezda-built suits at first: the next time the patch showed up, was during the Soyuz-4/Soyuz-5 EVA on January 16, 1969, during which Alexei Eliseev and Yuri Khrunov 'walked' from Soyuz-5 to Soyuz-4. The cosmonauts were wearing the patch on the outer layer of their Yastreb-suit, again built by Zvezda.

Left: The Zvezda 'Rocket' seen on the Yastreb-suit of Alexei Eliseev in January 1969. Center: Alexei Leonov wearing the patch on a pre-Sokol flightsuit during Soyuz training. Right: A picture of the Soyuz-11 back-up crew (became prime crew) training for their mission.

After Soyuz-5, the patch was seen on the training and flightsuits of the Soyuz-11/Salyut-1 crew in 1971. No other crew had worn the patch before on such clothing. A possible explaination is that Alexei Leonov - together with Valeri Kubasov and Pjotr Kolodin - was one of the three original crewmembers for the Soyuz-11 mission. Had doctors not discovered a spot on Kubasov's lungs, which they feared was tuberculosis but which turned out to be an alergic reaction, he and Leonov would have flown the mission. Most probably, Leonov had adopted the patch as the personal logo for himself and the rest of the Soyuz-11 crew, including the back-up team of Viktor Patsayev, Georgi Dobrovolsky and Vladislav Volkov that ultimaltely flew. The patch was present on the suits that were worn during launch and entry. The Soyuz-11 mission ended in disaster, when the cabin lost pressure during the landing phase. The crew actually died with the patch on their shoulders.

Left: The patch was worn on the launch/landing suits by the Soyuz-11 crew. Center: One of the Soyuz-11 crewmen wearing his launch/entry suit with the patch aboard Salyut-1. Right: One of the (dead) Soyuz-11 cosmonauts is receiving medical aid. The three men died with the Zvezda 'Rocket' on their arms.

Following Soyuz-11, the patch was not worn again on actual flight suits. No spacewalks were made by Soviet cosmonauts for a long time, so no Zvezda-built suits (apart from the 'Sokol' and 'Penguin' suits, who had their own Zvezda-logo - the 'Early Zvezda') were used. The patch was visible again during Apollo Soyuz Test project (ASTP)-training in 1974 / 1975, again an Alexei Leonov-mission. It was present next to the standard Vimpel 'Diamond' on the TK-2 training suits of the prime-, back-up- and support cosmonauts (Alexei Leonov, Valery Kubasov, Anatoli Filipchenko, Nikolai Rukavishnikov, Yuri Romanenko, Alexander Ivanchenkov, Vladimir Dzhanibekov and Boris Andreyev) but the crew (Leonov, Kubasov) did not wear the Zvezda 'Rocket' on their actual in-flight suits. Probably, the Soviets wanted to keep up with the amount of patches the Americans would wear during training, which got a lot of media attention. During training for their later Salyut missions, Dzhanibekov and Romanenko were still wearing their ASTP TK-2 training suits, including the Zvezda 'Rocket'.

Left: Leonov wearing the patch on his TK-2 during ASTP training. Center: Yuri Romanenko (one of the ASTP support crewmembers) wearing the patch on his TK-2 during training for his Salyut-6 mission. Right: Dzhanibekov, also involved in the ASTP-mission, could also been seen wearing the patch on his TK-2 during Interkosmos-training.

Forel Survival Suit

Left: orange label attached to an early Forel suit. Center: the later Zvezda 'Rocket' Forel-label. Right: the Interkosmos version did not show 'CCCP'. Note that the hood of the Forel suit (in this case that of DDR-cosmonaut Sigmund Jaehn) also shows national letters.

The Zvezda 'Rocket' patch disappeared in the mid-seventies, but an orange/white version (printed plastic/rubber on fabric) had shown up on the rubber Forel water survival suits (manufactured by Zvezda) by that time. A Superior auction lists such a suit, with orange Zvezda 'Rocket' label, as early as Soyuz-10 (1971). We do not know if the suit and patch were flown earlier. For later missions, the orange version was replaced by a white label with blue border, red letters and yellow stars. The earliest use of this version we have confirmed, is Soyuz-24 in 1977. A variant without letters was used for international Interkosmos participants. The white 'Zvezda'-Rocket label was still used on Forel suits during the early Mir-program.
Sleeping Bags

Left: orange Zvezda 'Rocket' label attached to a 1973 Soyuz-12 sleeping bag. Center: the orange label. Right: the newer label attached to Sigmund Jaehns 1978 sleeping bag. Note that the CCCP lettering is present in this case.

The same Zvezda 'Rocket' labels were attached to the Soyuz and Salyut sleeping bags'- produced by Zvezda. We can confirm its use for Soyuz-12 (1973), as described in a Superior auction. Like the label on the Forel-suits, the orange/white version was replaced by the white/blue/red/yellow label somewhere in the seventies. The only date we have confirmed for the new label, is that of the 1978 Soyuz-31 mission. It was probably replaced by the square blue Zvezda 'Salyut' logo on later missions. During the early Mir-program, the square shaped Zvezda 'Mir' patch was used.

Collecting the Zvezda 'Rocket'

A small supply of patches was available from Alex Panchenko, who owned 3 patches flown and signed by Leonov and 7 unflown and unsigned copies. These were supplied to him by Leonov, Rukavishnikov and Nikolayev. One of these is in our collection. Since Panchenko did not keep the patches seperate, it is unknown to which of the three cosmonauts our patch belonged.

Stewart Aviation in England produced a replica of the patch in he late 1980's. Apart from the materials used, this replica, shown at left, is easy to distinguish from the original: the Earth is white and the rocket has a different shape. The version at right, which is Soviet-made, is plastic on cloth. We have not seen this patch attached to any flight equipment.

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