| Apollo 17
Eugene Cernan, commander of the Apollo 17 mission, commissioned
eminent space artist Robert McCall
to design the patch for his flight. McCall modeled his image of
Apollo on the 7-foot marble sculpture on display in the Vatican
Gallery in Rome. The most famous of the many Classical representations
of the Greek god Apollo, it was discovered towards the end of the
15th century and regarded for centuries afterwards as one of the
supreme masterpieces of world art. The statue is a marble copy from
the Roman period of a Classical or Hellenistic Greek bronze. Leochares
has been proposed as the sculptor of the lost original. In 1503
the newly-elected Pope, Julius II della Rovere, placed it in the
internal courtyard of the Belvedere Palace.
The official NASA caption to the press release photo of the Apollo
17 patch reads: "The insignia is dominated by the image of Apollo,
the Greek sun god. Suspended in space behind the head of Apollo
is an American eagle of contemporary design, the red bars of the
eagle's wing represent the bars in the U.S. flag; the three white
stars symbolize the three astronaut crewmen. The background is deep
blue space and within it are the Moon, the planet Saturn and a spiral
galaxy or nebula. The Moon is partially overlaid by the eagle's
wing suggesting that this is a celestial body that man has visited
and in that sense conquered. The thrust of the eagle and the gaze
of Apollo to the right and toward Saturn and the galaxy is meant
to imply that man's goals in space will someday include the planets
and perhaps the stars. The colors of the emblem are red, white and
blue, the colors of our flag; with the addition of gold, to symbolize
the golden age of space flight that will begin with this Apollo
17 lunar landing. The Apollo image used in this emblem was the Apollo
of Belvedere sculpture now in the Vatican Gallery in Rome. This
emblem was designed by artist Robert T. McCall in collaboration
with the astronauts."
Gene Cernan later wrote his recollection of the patch:
"... for a mission patch [we] turned
our pen-scratched ideas and goals over to artist Robert T. McCall, who
helped us come up with a wonderful design based on the theme of mankind,
country and the future. The golden face of Apollo, Greek god of the Sun,
was laid on top of a contemporary drawing of an American eagle. Red bars
in the wings reflected our flag, and were topped by three white stars
representing our crew. A deep blue background featured the Moon, Saturn
and a spiral galaxy, with the eagle's wing just touching the Moon to
suggest that this celestial body had been visited by man. Apollo gazes to
the right toward the galaxy to imply further exploration, with the eagle
leading mankind into the future."
--Eugene Cernan, The Last Man on the
The Apollo of Belvedere sculpture in the
Vatican Gallery which was used as a model for the face of
Apollo on the Apollo 17 patch.
NASA photo ID: S72-49079
Taken: 13 Sep 1972
Beta cloth version of the Apollo 17 patch. It can be clearly
seen here in the face of Apollo and in the space background,
that the silk-screen process used for creating the beta
cloth patches favored discrete rather than continuous tones.
AB Emblem embroidered Apollo 17 patch. Embroidery, like
silk-screen, has a limited palette; but AB Emblem seems
to have executed better in this case. Vintage patches have
a white eagle shape; later versions [ap17-em2] have a light
blue eagle shape. The lettering on this patch has the very
slightest pink or purple cast.
Lion Brothers embroidered Apollo 17 patch. The grey border
is disproportionately large here, as is the lettering. The
face of Apollo is not as well executed as that on the AB
The Lion Brothers hallmark -- the number
"17" in a fold of cloth on Apollo's shoulder.
This 4 1/2" patch is one specially commissioned by
the Apollo 17 crew. There were about 150 of these made for
each crewmember, with the crewmember's intials sewn into
the background between Apollo's shoulder and the galaxy.
The detail shows that this patch was one of Harrison Schmitt's.
A star, visible in the artwork but in neither of the other
embroidered patches, further distinguishes this set of patches.
The lettering has the same pinkish cast as the smaller AB
Emblem version. Still in it's original sealed plastic wrap,
this patch bears a label on the back stating it was manufactured
by AB Emblem.
115mm w × 116mm h
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