| Apollo 1
"The Apollo 1 patch was designed by the crew as all others were
and had been approved. Since this was destined to be the first Apollo
orbital flight, this was the prime theme."
--Donald "Deke" Slayton, Deke!
There is disagreement over whether the Apollo 1 patch had been
approved. In fact, the patch had been approved in June 1966. By
January 1967, there was some doubt that the flight would in fact
be designated as Apollo 1 (officially it was being called Apollo
204). So on January 20, 1967 George Low sent a letter to Deke Slayton
withdrawing approval for the patch, and indicating that once the
mission designation was firmly settled the patch might need to be
Unlike all other Apollo patches, there was no beta cloth version;
Beta cloth patches were instituted in consequence of the fire that
killed the Apollo 1 crew.
Using the American flag as a border for the patch was an interesting
design element that is unique to this patch, and hearkens back to
the American flag patch worn by the Gemini 4 crew of Jim McDivitt
and ... Ed White.
A story that I've heard about the Apollo 1 patch relates that the
black border was "added" after the fire in memory of the
fallen astronauts. This is clearly untrue, since not only does the
original artwork include a black border (albeit a narrow one), but
photos of the Apollo 1 crew wearing embroidered patches clearly
show that these patches had a black border (see photos
The creator of this patch was unknown until May 2008, when Ed Hengeveld and Noah Bradley identified Allen Stevens of North American Rockwell as the artist.
NASA photo ID: S66-36742
Taken: 1 Dec 1966
This excellent embroidered Apollo 1 patch (a recent re-creation)
deviates only slightly from the artwork. The most significant
alteration is the omission of the black border around the
landmasses on the Earth. This excellent execution shows
just how attractive the Apollo 1 patch is.
This is the patch worn by the crew. It was made by Stylized Emblem Company of Hollywood, CA. While not particularly
faithful to the original artwork (the biggest deviation
is in the relative sizes of the border areas to the central
vignette), it certainly deserves to be called "authentic",
since it is the design used by the astronauts. Thanks to
Bill Hunt for this image.
The most commonly seen embroidered Apollo 1 patch, made by AB Emblem, is quite
similar to the "authentic" patch shown to the
left. It can be easily distinguished from the "real
thing" by the stitching pattern in the image of the
Earth: on this patch the stitching is horizontal; on the
authentic patch this stitching is almost at right angles
to the limb of the Earth. Also, the moon in this version
has silver threads. Finally, some of the border stars in
the original are slightly distorted, while on this reproduction
they are more carfully rendered.
Another variant, this one by Lion Brothers, has a yellow border; space
is blue instead of black (making it the only patch
to match the artwork in this respect); and the central
vignette is too small in relation to the overall patch.
Otherwise a nice rendition.
89mm w × 90mm h
Roger Chaffee in October 1966, wearing
the crew patch on his left shoulder. NASA Photo KSC-366C-126-16.
Gus Grissom, ten days before the fatal
fire. The patch has moved to the right breast. NASA Photo
to John Young, during his Apollo training Gus Grissom had a batch
of "Molly Brown" patches made. This patch commemorated
his and Young's Gemini 3 mission, on which the radio call sign "Molly
Brown" was used. This was the last mission to fly without a
mission patch (assuming you count Gemini 4's American flag as a
mission patch, as the Gemini 4 crew did). Grissom's "Molly
Brown" patch shows a Gemini capsule serenely floating in the
ocean, awaiting recovery -- in contrast to Grissom's Mercury flight,
when his "Liberty Bell 7" capsule sank to the bottom of
the Atlantic after the hatch prematurely jettisoned. There
are photos of Young wearing this patch prior to Apollo 10, during
his training for the Apollo 16 mission, and during the Shuttle era.
I offer this "after the fact" patch here because, despite
flying two missions, and being assigned to command a third, Grissom
never flew a space flight with a mission patch. His Mercury and
Gemini flights came prior to the advent of mission patches; and
he never got to fly the Apollo mission for which he finally had
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