Crew: 
James A. McDivitt
David R. Scott
Russell L. "Rusty" Schweickart

Dates:
3-13 March 1969

Artist:
Allen Stevens


Apollo 9

The Apollo 9 mission patch is simple and straightforward. The mission was the first crewed test of both Apollo spacecraft -- the CSM and the LM. It was launched on a Saturn V. The blue background may represent the Earth, this being an earth-orbital mission.

The only subtlety is the red interior of the "D" in McDivitt. Apollo 9 was the "D" mission in Owen Maynard's plan of missions:

Letter
Designation
Objective Flight(s)
A Launch vehicle/spacecraft development; lunar-return entry velocity Apollo 4
Apollo 6
B Lunar module development, propulsion and staging Apollo 5
C CSM evaluation / crew performance Apollo 7
C-prime CSM deep space evaluation [a later addition to the plan] Apollo 8
D LM evaluation / CSM crew performance combined operations Apollo 9
E CSM / LM combined deep space operations not flown
F Lunar mission / deep space evaluation Apollo 10
G Lunar landing Apollo 11

"...Owen Maynard presented plans for scheduling seven types of missions that would lead step by step to the ultimate goal. He described these steps, "A" through "G," with G as the lunar landing mission."   --Chariots for Apollo

I've always wondered why the LM is shown "nose-to-nose" with the CSM instead of in the docked position; but in the original artwork, it's obvious that the two spacecraft are in the "stationkeeping" attitude. The embroidered patches (except for the "flown" patch, [ap09-em1]), and to a lesser degree the beta cloth patch [ap09-bc1], depict them so close together you would expect them to be docked.

There are several derivative versions based on Al Steven's design. [ap09-aw1] is the original artwork, with [ap09-aw2] being a secondary, derivative execution, and [ap09-aw3] being a loose interpretation. Even without knowing that [ap09-aw1] was the artist's final version, it's quite clear, since it incorporates more details and subtlties of execution than [ap09-aw2] -- and details and subtlety are invariably what fall away in subsequent generations -- they never accumulate. Examples: the rendering of the Saturn V is more "anatomically correct" in [ap09-aw1] -- notice the length of the S-IVB stage, and the varying diameter between the tankage and intertank areas; the LES protrudes into the red border in [ap09-aw1]; and the mottled background in [ap09-aw1] is unlikely to have been used in a derivative work if the original was a solid blue. Fianlly, the lettering in [ap09-aw1] is also more faithful to the Eurostile Extended font than that in [ap09-aw2] (the font subtleties are not immediately apparent in the photos shown here, but are evident in larger images).

Previous to May 2008, when Ed Hengeveld and Noah Bradley definitively identified Allen Stevens of North American Rockwell as the artist, Norman Tiller had been proposed as the creator of this patch. Perhaps Tiller executed one of the copies, [ap09-aw2] or [ap09-aw3].

NASA photo Beta cloth patch

[ap09-aw1]
NASA photo ID: S69-18569
Taken: unknown
The original artwork for the Apollo 9 patch.

NOTE: It's possible the photo IDs for this image and ap09-aw2 are reversed. Stay tuned.

[ap09-aw2]
NASA photo ID: S69-19974
Taken: 6 Feb 1969
This derivative artwork shows several variations from ap09-aw1: the Saturn V has been reduced in size (the escape tower of the Saturn V does not extend into the red rim, and the yellow oval now crosses the middle of the LSA, rather than the IU); the CSM and LM are closer together; the termination of the yellow oval near the SPS is an arrow tail rather than an arrow head;
and the mottled black/blue background has been replaced with a solid navy blue.

NASA photo Beta cloth patch

[ap09-aw3]
This "plaque" (from the NASA photo 69-HC-0098) deviates far more from the original than does ap09-aw2: the Saturn V has become much fatter, the yellow oval is far smaller, and tilted close to 45 degrees; the spacecraft are smaller and closer together; and most noticable of all, the lettering is no longer Eurostile Extended.
I can't help noting that in the photo of the crew showing this to the press, they don't look anywhere near as happy as they do when showing off the original artwork.

[ap09-bc1]
Beta cloth version of the Apollo 9 patch. While the silkscreened artwork for beta cloth patches usually adheres pretty closely to the original artwork, in this case the lettering style was altered from the original Eurostile Extended (it is, at least, an extended font); and the general proportions and arrangements are off, including the size, shape and angle of the yellow oval.
77mm dia

Embroidered patch Embroidered patch

[ap09-em1]
This embroidered patch, which was lot #775 in Superior Galleries Fall 2001 Space Memorabilia auction, is described as being a flown patch from the collection of Dave Scott.Note that the lettering is Eurostile rather than Eurostile Extended. This photo is from the Superior Galleries auction catalog.
83mm dia


[ap09-em2]
Embroidered version (AB Emblem) of the Apollo 9 patch. The most noticeable deviation from the design is the use of a font with proportions considerably different from Eurostile Extended. The depictions of the CSM and LM are also very poorly rendered.
98mm w × 100mm h

Embroidered patch Embroidered patch

[ap09-em3]
Another embroidered Apollo 9 patch, apparently from Lion Brothers. A little better than the AB Emblem version, but not much. A bit surprising since, during this period, Lion Brothers usually made much more faithful patches than this (compare Apollo 7, 8 and 10 patches). Note that in this and the AB Emblem patch, the configuration of the two spacecraft is even more puzzling than the design, since their proximity makes it appear they are docked -- an impossibility in this configuration.
89mm dia


[ap09-em4]
This recent rendering of the Apollo 9 patch is by far the most faithful 4" embroidered version I've ever seen -- though it follows ap09-aw2 rather than ap09-aw1. I obtained this patch from Spaceflight Now. (Sadly, it's no longer available there.)
101mm dia

Embroidered patch Embroidered patch
Concept art by Al Stevens for the Apollo 9 patch. At the time he did this, the mission was intended to follow Apollo 7, and was thus called Apollo 8. The mission actually flown as Apollo 8 was inserted in the sequence when it became clear that the LM was seriously behind schedule.

Almost there, this Al Stevens rendering is close to the final Apollo 9 patch. The hardware will be shuffled around a bit, the Saturn V coloring will change, and the orbit will be tilted around 40° clockwise, but otherwise this is it. Thanks to Noah Bradley for this image and the one to the left.

NASA photo S69-17590
Despite the photo number, this crew portrait was taken in December 1968.

This detail from the crew portrait above shows that the crew were wearing embroidered patches at the time. This patch matches the "flown" patch ap09-em1 pictured above.

NASA photo S69-18876
The Apollo 9 crew showing off their mission patch [ap09-aw1]. This appears to be either the original artwork for the patch, or a reproduction of it.

NASA photo 69-HC-0098
The Apollo 9 crew with their mission patch [ap09-aw3] at a press conference on 25 January 1969. I believe that this was the plaque which was mounted on the door of the astronaut transfer van. Thanks to Ed Hengeveld for this photo.

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