ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli (IT) is assigned to fly on Soyuz TMA-20 to the ISS, scheduled for December 2010, as part of the Expedition 26 crew. Expedition 27 begins with the Soyuz TMA-01M undocking in March 2011. Nespoli and his two crewmates, Roscosmos cosmonaut Dmitri Kondratyev and NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman, remain on the ISS and are joined by three new crewmembers, Andrei Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyayev and NASA's Ronald Garan (NASA), who arrive shortly after the TMA-01M undocking on TMA-21 in March 2011.
Nespoli and his crew remain on the ISS as part of the Expedition 27 crew until May/June 2011, returning their TMA-20 spacecraft.
The patch was designed by the Expedition 27 crew with Jorge Cartes and Tim Gagnon. Tim explained: "Dmitri, Cady and Paolo decided to use the same station view from the Expedition 26 patch on Expedition 27. They wanted to show the continuity of the crews working together on orbit."
The ISS is shown prominently in the foreground of the patch, with the Southern Cross constellation in the background. Dmitri Kondratyev liked the idea of a southern hemisphere constellation as opposed to 'Orion' or the 'Big Dipper' which have been depicted a number of times. The white stars represent the two three-person Soyuz crews and the two gold stars represent the artists.