Soyuz TMA-04M, which is scheduled to launch on March 29, 2012 (March 30 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site in Kazakhstan), will fly Roscosmos cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin, together with NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, to the International Space Station (ISS).
Acaba, Padalka and Revin are three of six crew members comprising Expeditions 31
The Soyuz TMA-04M emblem was the first Soyuz crew patch since December 2008 to be designed without drawing its inspiration from children's artwork. The design contest that led to the earlier student-influenced insignias ended with the previous Soyuz flight.
"We participated in designing it as a crew," Padalka commented in a recent interview with collectSPACE. "We had a group of people who designed it and they did a great job."
Dutch artist Luc van den Abeelen led the design work at the request of the crew.
The insignia depicts the Earth, crowned by the Russian exploration ship [i]Nadezhda,[/i] captained by Ivan Fedorovich Kruzenshtern on the first Russian round-the-world expedition from 1803 to 1806.
"More than two centuries later, the Russian manned spacecraft Soyuz TMA-04M is in orbit around our home planet, on its way towards the International Space Station for continued exploration of space and on-orbit research," according to the emblem's official description.
The patch is framed by a ring, inspired by a compass rose, indicating the four cardinal directions, and bronze instruments like the sextant and the astrolabe.
Describing the emblem's use of a nautical motif, Padalka said that it was intended to evoke "traveling in deep space with an international crew."