This is the patch of the All-Russian Youth Aerospace Society (Vserossiiskogo molodezhnogo Aero Kosmicheskogo Obshestva; VAKO) "Soyuz", which was set up in November 1988. It is the first youth scientific-educational society in Russia which has a goal to transfer the intellectual potentiality accumulated in the aerospace branches of industry into educational sphere. Alexander Serebrov, pilot cosmonaut, was elected President of the Society.
The All-Russian Aerospace Society "Soyuz" is made up of 200 collectives. Among them 12 Regional Departments in St.Petersburg, Nizhniy Novgorod, Ulyanovsk, Samara, Volgograd, Archangelsk, Kabardino-Balkaria, Krasnoyarsk Regional Astronautics School, Young Astronauts Clubs of the Moscow and Petersburg Palaces of Children's and Youth's Creation, the Moscow State Technical University, the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, etc. "Soyuz" comprises more than 1500 thousand pupils, students, young scientists, teachers, engineers, workers and military men.
The activity of the "Soyuz" Society in the field of aerospace education is carried out according to the programme "Space and gifted". The aim of this programme is to search for gifted children, who are fond of aviation and cosmonautics and to provide favourable conditions for their intellectual, spiritual and physical development.
The system of all-russian and international contests, tournaments, olympiads, namely: "Space", "Together to Mars", "Man is a child of Universe" and Tsiolkovsky and Gagarin readings, gives the possibility of searching for gifted children.
These children are involved in young astronauts clubs. They are the candidates for entering the aerospace schools and classes. To support gifted children who showed interest in research work the "Soyuz" Society invites youth organisations and various educational institutions for cooperation in the following fields:
-Establishment of mutual exchanges of groups with schools, universities and other youth organisations and educational institutions on non-currency basis.
-Arrangement of exhibitions of paintings of aerospace orientation, demonstration of working mock-up rockets.
-Arrangement of exhibitions and sales of mock-up rockets, aircrafts, souvenirs, badges and toys of acrospace orientation.
-Organisation of joint summer acrospace camps.
-Organisation of scout-type survival camps.
-Organisation of 10-days training camp on the basis of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Centre.
-Reception of tourist groups of students and adults and organisation of aerospace lours for them on commercial basis.
-The exchange of educational and methodical materials on acrospace education.
The VAKO-Soyuz logo shows a young cosmonaut riding the back of a bear (symbolizing the space program). The bear is superimposed over the constellation Ursa Major (Big Dipper). In the background, a fighter jet can be seen, symbolizing the aeronautical part of the society.
The Real Thing
The patch was taken into space by VAKO "Soyuz" president Alexander Serebrov and was worn during one of his four spacewalks outside Mir in September/October 1993. A silver doll (named "Vakosha") wearing the patch was taken to Mir by the Soyuz TM-18 crew (Polyakov, Afanasyev and Usachev), who relieved Serebrov and his crewmate Tsibliev in January 1994. It played a role in Serebrov's educational movie 'Lessons from Space', which was filmed aboard Mir between 1993 and 1994. Vakosha spent the rest of it's days in Mir's baseblock, where it was visible in some photography/footage during the Shuttle-Mir program. Shown here is a videoframe from the February 1995 STS-63 rendez-vous, in which Vakosha can be seen in front of one of Mir's windows.
We got the patch from Alex Panchenko, who in turn received it directly from Alexander Serebrov.