(Left, S66-15620 January 05, 1966): The original Gemini 9 prime crew, astronauts Elliot M. See Jr., command pilot, and Charles A. Bassett II, pilot, in space suits with their helmets on the table in front of them. On February 28, 1966 the prime crew for the Gemini 9 mission were killed when their twin seat T-38 trainer jet aircraft crashed into a building in which the Gemini spacecraft were being manufactured. They were on final approach to Lambert-Saint Louis Municipal Airport when bad weather conditions hampered pilot See's ability to make a good visual contact with the runway. Noticing the building at the last second as he came out of the low cloud cover, See went to full afterburner and attempted to nose-up the aircraft in an attempt to miss the building. He clipped it and his plane crashed.
(Right S66-15621 January 05, 1966) The Gemini 9 backup crew members are, Commander, Thomas P. Stafford and pilot Eugene A. Cernan. The back-up crew became the prime crew on February 28, 1966
The Gemini-9 astronauts Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan chose a unique shield design for their mission patch. The design was chosen over dinner with the astronauts wives playing a significant part in determining the final design. The mission's flight objectives were rendezvous, docking and an EVA by Cernan. The crew patch reflects these objectives.
Central to the design is a large Roman numeral IX, the mission designation. Superimposed on the numeral are a Gemini capsule
and Agena target vehicle. The Agena wich Gemini-9 was due to dock with failed to reach orbit and caused a delay in Gemini-9's launch.
The flight was rescheduled with an Augmented Target Docking Adapter as the target vehicle. However, the crew elected not to replace
the Agena with an ATDA on their patch, probably due to the short time between the Agena failure and their actual launch (two weeks).
Also present on the patch is an astronaut (Cernan) performing an EVA below the Agena but tetherd to the Gemini capsule. The tether forms a "9"
yet another symbolic reference to the mission designation.
The Real Thing
Some souvenier versions of the patch contain the crew names superimposed on the shield below the Gemini/Agena, and another design contains the crew
names in a panel located below the shield. The crew names however were not present on the patches the crew wore during the flight. The astronauts wore the patches on the right breast of the spacesuits.