Gemini-6 patch

A Personal Story

..."We got zipped into our pressure suits, complete with our own patch, which showed the number 6 on a field of black surrounded by stars. Since we were the first Gemini-Titan to fly with an Agena, Wally had decided that the patch should read G-T-A 6, with the Arabic numeral rather than the Roman numerals NASA officialy used. The 6 rested in the constellation of Orion, since that would be the background of our target Agena vehicle at the time of final phase of rendezvous and docking"...

Astronaut Tom Stafford in "We have Capture"

"I designed the patch to locate in the 6th hour of celestial right ascension. This was the predicted celestial area where the rendezvous should occur (in the constellation Orion). It finally did occur there. The flight patch had an Agena target rather than a Gemini as in real life. Notice the 6 connecting the stars around Orion as well as the catchy name Gemini-6. No names were permitted after Molly Brown (the unsinkable) until Spider in Apollo-9."

Astronaut Wally Schirra in "All we did was fly to the moon"

"We were up there aiming for the rendezvous and when we first saw our rendezvous vehicle, Gemini-7, glittering in the reflected light of the sunset, it was right between Sirius and the twins, just exactly where we placed it on our patch."

Astronaut Tom Stafford in Life Magazine

The Artwork

Left: The flown GTA-6 coin, derived from the same artwork that was used for the patch. Note that the "6" is sketched as a dotted line. Right: Some time before the mission, the crew could be seen wearing a printed version of their patch. We believe it also reflects the original artwork.

Gemini-6 was planned for an October 1965 launch to rendezvouz with a Gemini Agena Target Vehicle. However the mission was postponed when the Agena was lost minutes after liftoff and the Gemini-6 launch was re-scheduled for December with the Gemini-7 spacecraft becoming their new rendezvous target. The change in rendezvous targets resulted in several modifications to the mission crew patch.

When the mission objectives changed in late 1965 so too did the crew patch. "GTA-6" became "GEMINI-6" and the patch's Agena target became an outline of Gemini-7. The re-designed patch was the one wich actualy flew although the original patch ("GTA-6") is the one which was officially released by NASA and is also the one which appears on the official crew portrait. Photo's of the astronauts during recovery operations clearly show the re-designed patch on the astronauts spacesuits.

Interestingly, Schirra has stated that the mission designation should have been GTG-7/6 (for Gemini Titan Gemini) and many observers at the time dubbed the flight "the spirit of 76".

Spot the Patch

Schirra and Stafford with the original GTA-6 patch.

Left: The redesigned Gemini 6 patch being attached to Stafford's suit. Center, right: The Gemini-6 patch seen on Schirra's pressure suit. Note that he is also wearing a gold Navy wing-pin.

Schirra and Stafford wearing the patch on their blue flightsuits. Stafford is wearing an Air Force wing-pin; Schirra is wearing a Navy wing-pin.

Recovery Force