Designed by the crew members, this is the mission insignia for the STS-96 spaceflight, the second space shuttle mission dedicated to the assembly of the International Space Station (ISS). The crew patch highlights the major themes of the Station Program: Earth-directed research, the advancement of human space exploration, and international cooperation. The space shuttle Discovery is depicted shortly after reaching orbit as the crew prepares to carry out the first docking with the new space station. At this early stage in its construction, ISS consists of two modules: Zarya and Unity, shown orbiting Earth. The triangular shape of the patch represents building on the knowledge and experience of earlier missions, while the three vertical bars of the astronaut emblem point toward future human endeavors in space. The five-pointed star that tops the astronaut emblem in this depiction is symbolic of the five space agencies participating in the development of ISS: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Russian Space Agency (RSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The blend of red, white, and blue is a tribute to the nationalities of the crew members who are from the United States, Canada, and Russia.
The NASA insignia design for space shuttle flights is reserved for use by the astronauts and for other official use as the NASA Administrator may authorize. Public availability has been approved only in the forms of illustrations by the various news media. When and if there is any change in this policy, which is not anticipated, the change will be publicly announced. Photo credit: NASA