Soyuz TMA-20M Launches to the ISS!

Soyuz TMA-20M, carrying Aleksey Ovchinin, Oleg Skripochka, and Jeffrey Williams blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan today.

The crew will join Expedition 47 aboard the ISS.  This is the final flight of Soyuz TMA-M; the next flight will feature the next generation of this venerable spacecraft type, Soyuz MS.  They also have a pretty awesome mission patch:

Soyuz-TMA-20M-Mission-Patch

The three stars in the upper left quadrant represent the three cosmonauts.  The black bear is from the city of Rybinsk’s coat of arms, which is where Ovchinin is from.  The gray crane is for Skripochka, who flew on Soyuz TMA-1M and used the same symbol then, so it bookends this Soyuz variant.  The bald eagle of course represents the American astronaut, carrying the “swoosh” vector from NASA’s meatball on its beak.  In the middle is the silhouette of a Soyuz as seen nose-on before docking, with the Roscosmos logo, and on the top is a stylized silhouette of the ISS, their destination.  The shield’s quarters are separated by red white and blue bands, in the specific shades used on the Russian and American flags.

A lot of mission patches are cool, but this one’s really cool!

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