Early Zvezda


Following the Soyuz-11 disaster in June 1971, Soyuz-cosmonauts started wearing so called "Sokol" pressure suits. Standard item on the flightsuits was a blue, square piece of woven canvas, showing the logo of the manufacturer: Zvezda. Sometimes, it also included the yellow lettering 'Salyut'. It was attached to the right upper chest. The first crew to wear the suits were Vasili Lazarev and Oleg Makarov, who were launched aboard Soyuz-12 on September 9, 1973.

The woven Zvezda-logo was worn on every flight-Sokol since Soyuz-12 (except Soyuz-19, the high-profile Apollo-Soyuz mission which had its own patch layout) until Soyuz-27 (January 1978), after which the Interkosmos flights (also with their own patch layouts) began. Interesting note: the final cosmonaut to have the logo on his flight-Sokol was Oleg Makarov again. His Soyuz-27 crewmate Vladimir Dzjanibekov (probably wearing a newer suit) already had a blank spot on his Sokol.

The logo was not always present on the training Sokols, even though these suits were from Zvezda as well. Although the logo disappeared from the flight Sokols beginning with Soyuz-27, the crews of Soyuz-30, 31 and 32 still had it on their training suits in 1978.

The patch was also worn on some intravehicular clothing during the early Soyuz / Salyut program. It was also worn on the left shoulder of the blue Penguin suits. The Penguin was first flown on Soyuz-10, but first worn by the Soyuz-11 (Salyut-1, June 1971) crew. We do not know if these Penguins already had the blue Zvezda logo. Most pictures show the Soyuz-11 crew in their TNK 'Athlete' suits, which they were permitted to wear round the clock. Since the Zvezda 'Rocket' was still in use on the intravehiculr suits, this might be an indication that the blue early Zvezda was not in use yet. The Soyuz-12 crew did not carry Penguins; the Soyuz-13 Penguins did have the early Zvezda patch, as photographes confirm. The Soyuz-29 Penguins (Summer 1978) were the last.

An embroidered version of the Zvezda patch (which later evolved into numerous follow-on Salyut, Mir and ISS versions) became available for intravehicular suits as early as 1975 (the high profile Soyuz-22 Earth Observation mission) and was also present on the first Salyut-6 Orlan (spacewalk) suits in 1977.

The embroidered patch became standard issue on the blue Penguin suits halfway the Soyuz-29 stay aboard Salyut-6. Cosmonauts Vladimir Kovalenok and Alexander Ivanchenko were still wearing their old Penguins when the Soyuz-30 crew visited in June/July 1978, but had new Penguin suits with embroidered patches when Soyuz-31 arrived in August 1978. Their new suits were probably brought up by the Progress-2 (which docked July 9, 1978) or Progress-3 supply ship (which docked August 9, 1978). Thus, with Soyuz-32 (February 1979), all use of the early Zvezda patch in space had been discontinued.

The real thing

The woven Zvezda-logo can be seen on the right chest of the Sokol suits worn by the Soyuz-12 crew (left). Thier suits also had a Soviet standard on the left sleeve. A color picture of the Zvezda-patch attached to a Sokol suit is shown at right.

The Zvezda patch attached to an intravehicular suit of Soyuz-18A cosmonaut Vasili Lasarev (March 1975; left) and to the Penguin-suit of Soyuz-26 / Salyut-6 cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko, who is seen here unloading Progress-1 in January/February 1978.

Collecting the Early Zvezda
The patch was made by the Zvezda factory and is not commercially available. We do not have it in our collection and no souvenir versions have been produced. The picture of the patch from Lasarev's jumpsuit was taken from an internet auction.

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