July 16 - 24, 1969

Crew & Mission

(S69-31740 - MAY 1969) --- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has named these three astronauts as the prime crew of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Left to right, are Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot.

A Personal Story
...."There were also a variety of non-technical chores, such as thinking up names for our spacecraft and designing a mission emblem. We felt Apollo-11 was no ordinary flight, and we wanted no ordinary design, yet we were not professional designers. NASA offerd us no help along these lines (wisely I think). On Gemini-10, wich in my view has the best looking insignia of the Gemini series, artistic Barbara Young had developed one of John's ideas and come up with a graceful design, an aerodynamic X devoid of names and machines. This was the approach we wanted to take on Apollo-11.

We wanted to keep our three names off it because we wanted the design to be representative of everyone who had worked toward a lunar landing, and there were thousands who could take a proprietary interest in it, yet who would never see their names woven into the fabric of a patch. Further, we wanted the design to be symbolic rather than explicit. On Apollo-7, Wally's patch showed the earth and an orbiting CSM trailing fire. On 9, McDivitt produced a Saturn V, a CSM and an LM. Apollo 10's was even busier. Apollo 8's was closer to our way of thinking, showing a figure eight looping around earth and moon, on a command-module-shaped patch, but it had, like all the rest, three names printed on it. We needed something simpler, yet something which unmistakably said peaceful lunar landing by the United States.

Jim Lovell, Neil's back-up, introduced an American eagle into the conversation. Of course! What better symbol-eagles landed, didn't they? At home I skimmed through my library and finaly found what I wanted in a National Geographic book on birds: a bald eagle, landing gear extended, wings partialy folded, coming in for a landing. I traced it in on a piece of tissue paper and sketched in an oblique view of a pockmarked lunar surface.

Thus the Apollo-11 patch was born, although it had a long way to go before final approval. I added a smal earth in the background and drew the sunshine coming from the wrong direction, so to this day our official insignia shows the earth over the lunar horizon the wrong way. I also penciled an APOLLO around the top of my circular design and ELEVEN around the bottom. Neil didn't like the ELEVEN because it wouldn't be understandable to foreigners, so after trying XI and 11, we settled on the latter and put APOLLO 11 around the top.

One day outside the simulator I was describing my efforts to Jim Lovell, and he and I both agreed that the eagle alone realy didn't convey the entire message we wanted. The Americans were about to land, but so what? Tom Wilson, our computer expert and simulator instructor, overheard us and piped up, Why not an olive branch as a symbol of our peaceful expedition? Beautiful! Where do eagles carry olive branches? In their beaks, naturally. So I sketched one in, and after a few discussions with Neil and Buzz over color schemes, we were ready to go to press.

The sky would be black not blue, but absolute black, as in the real case. The eagle would be eagle-colored, the moon moon-colored, as described by Apollo-8, and the earth also, so all we had left to play with, really, were the colors of the border and the lettering. We picked blue and gold, and then we had an illustrator at MCC do the artwork for us. We photographed his finished design and send a copy through channels to washington for approval. Washington usually rubber-stamped everyhing. only this time they didn't, and our design came back disapproved.

The reason? The eagle's landing gear, powerful talons extended stiffly below him, was unacceptable. It was to hostile, too warlike; it made the eagle appear to be swooping down on the moon in a very menacing fashion, according to Bob Gilruth. What to do? A gear-up approach was unthinkable to this pilot who had woken up more than once with cold sweats over a dreamed wheels-up landing. Perhaps the talons could be relaxed and softened a bit, made limp like a receiving-line handshake. Then someone had a brainstorm: just transfer the olive branch from the beak to claw and all menace disappeared.

The eagle looked slightly uncomfortable in the new version, clutching his branches tightly with both feet, but we resubmitted it anyway, and it greased on through channels and won final approval"...

From: "CARRYING THE FIRE, an astronaut's journeys". By Michael Collins, 1974.

..."Collins found time to design a mission emblem, using an idea from Jim Lovell: an eagle coming in for a landing above a field of craters, with the Earth suspended in the black sky beyond. There would be no mames on the patch, only the words "APOLLO-11". The name Eagle was a natural choice for the lunar module, while Collin's command module would be called Columbia, a name that evoked not only national identity, but Jules Verne's mighty cannon, the Columbiad"....

From: "A MAN ON THE MOON, The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts", 1994.

The Artwork

(S69-34875 - JUNE 1969) --- The official emblem of Apollo 11, the United States' first scheduled lunar landing mission. It depicts and eagle descending toward the lunar surface with an olive branch, symbolizing America's peaceful mission in space.

The Real Thing

(S69-21365, 24 JULY 1969) --- Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the U.S.S. Hornet, prime recovery ship. Already confined to the Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF) are (left to right) Michael Collins, and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. The crew men will remain in the MQF until they arrive at the Manned Spacecraft Center's (MSC) Lunar Receiving Laboratory (LRL). On the right details of the Apollo-11 patch on Aldrin's and Collins suit. The patch worn on the suits is a Texas Emblems patch and is also shown at the top of this page.

Detail of the Apollo-11 Beta Cloth patch on Buzz Aldrin's suit.

Related and Souvenir

(Above left) The Lion Brothers version of the Apollo-11 patch, next to that is the AB Emblem version. The other designs are probably contractors pathces. The patch Below right is a related patch and we do not know what its origin is.

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