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Russian girl creates next Soyuz crew patch

Soyuz TMA-14 patch with Anna Chibiskova's art (Roscosmos)
December 29, 2008 — A 12-year-old girl from Moscow will see her artwork launch to space in March 2009 as the winner of an international contest to design an insignia for the next cosmonaut crew.

Anna Chibiskova was honored on Monday at a ceremony held at Russia's mission control center outside Moscow, where her painting of a pair of hands supporting the Earth was revealed as the basis for the Soyuz TMA-14 crew's mission patch. Her art will be embroidered and sewn onto the spacesuits that the three cosmonauts will wear during their March 25 launch to the International Space Station.

"Thank you for your attention to the creation of the our logo," said Soyuz commander Gennady Padalka before announcing Chibiskova as the winner. "We managed to see the best of more than 150 drawings, each of which is worthy of victory."

Under the rules of the contest, which was organized by Roscosmos, Russia's Federal Space Agency, with the cooperation of other nations' space programs including NASA, children ages 6 to 15 from around the world had from Oct. 25 to Christmas day 2008 to create and submit their idea for a patch in the form of a drawing, painting or computer-assisted design.

Padalka, along with U.S. astronaut Michael Barrett, who together will serve as the space station's 19th expedition crew, judged the designs. Their names, along with space flight participant Charles Simonyi, will be on the emblem.

Anna Chibiskova's original painting (Roscosmos)
In addition to naming Chibiskova's painting as the winner, Padalka and Barrett also selected second and third place designs.

"It is unfortunate that the winners in this contest could be only three," said Padalka. "We would have been happy to have chosen a number."

For third place, the cosmonaut and astronaut chose the artwork of an 11-year-old boy from Uglegorsk, near where Russia is building a launch facility. Stanislav Pyatkin's circular patch design depicted the spacesuited crewmen holding their raised hands, while standing in front of their rocket.

Kaitlin Riley, 12, from New York, won second place with her star-shaped crayon drawing of the Earth and a Soyuz rocket set against the blackness of space.

"I am pleased that among the winners is a girl from the USA and the boy from Uglegorsk where the Vostochny spaceport will be built," said Anatoly Perminov, director of Roscosmos, while also suggesting a fourth entrant from Kazakhstan be honored since "it is clear that in the near future, all manned launches will take place from Baikonur, Kazakhstan is our reliable partner in the space program."

Only Chibiskova's design will be worn by the crew, though all three winners have been invited to attend the launch. The Russian Insurance Center, an insurance joint-stock company, sponsored the contest and will underwrite the winners' travel from Moscow to Baikonur, as well as their accommodations and tours at the Kazakh cosmodrome.

The second and third place patch designs (Roscosmos)
Others among the 150 entrants, who represented Russia, Holland, Belarus, Turkey, India, Poland, Belgium, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and the United States, were chosen to receive photographs autographed by the Soyuz TMA-14 crew.

Padalka will be making his third flight into space and his second visit to the space station. In 2004, he served for for six months as ISS Expedition 9 commander.

Soyuz TMA-14 will be Barratt's first space flight since his selection as a NASA astronaut in 2000.

Simonyi will become the first spaceflight participant to fly twice to the outpost, previously having paid to stay there for 10 days in 2007. A Hungarian software developer, he earlier oversaw the creation of Microsoft's suite of Office applications.

In addition to the crew's names, the flags of Russia and the United States were added to Chibiskova's art to form the final emblem. Blue and red borders were also added.

This was the first time in the Russian space program's history that a child has been invited to design a space patch, though students have created for insignia for other countries' missions in the past.

"I hope that all the children's work sent to our crew will be entered in contests to create logos for the future crews to fly on Russian ships to the International Space Station," said Padalka in a release posted on Roscosmos' website, suggesting it start a new tradition aimed at attracting the attention of children in space exploration.

See Roscosmos' website for more of the patch designs.

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