James Lovell
Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin


James Lovell


Anthony Tharenos

Gemini 12

The Roman numeral XII is located at the 12 o’clock position as on the face of a clock, with the Gemini spacecraft pointing to it like the hour hand of a clock — highlighting Gemini 12’s position as the last flight of the Gemini program. The designer of the patch, Anthony Tharenos, recalls that the crescent was related to the potential of observing an eclipse during the flight. Ken Young, a redezvous expert in the Mission Planning and Analysis Division (MPAD), recalled: “on that flight we flew through a total solar eclipse ... me and Ed lineberry figured out how to do it. It was pretty tricky: they had like an 8-second window to fly through the path of the eclipse. Buzz got a real good shot of [it]. That was a rendezvous with a shadow. That was a true phantom rendezvous.” According to the Gemini 12 Mission Report: “... the crew reported that they had passed through the total eclipse starting at 16:01:44 g.e.t. According to postflight calculations, the spacecraft passed within about three nautical miles of the center of the 15-nautical-mile-radius umbra core.” While a solar filter had been provided for the purpose, a telephoto lens had not been, and so the images show just a miniscule crescent — only enough really, to prove it could be done.

The original schedule had Gemini 12 flying at Halloween, so the color scheme is black and orange in recognition of the season.

The patch was worn on the right shoulder of the pressure suit, which apparently raised the ire of NASA management. Ed Hengeveld observes that:

In a December 1966 note to Deke Slayton, NASA public affairs chief Julian Scheer reported that Administrator Jim Webb had noticed in Gemini 12 film footage that the “Cooper patch” (mission insignia) was worn on the shoulder, not the right breast as Webb had directed in an August 1965 memo to Gemini 5 command pilot Gordon Cooper. Scheer wanted to know if there were plans “to change from breasts to shoulders.” Slayton passed this message on to the Apollo flight crews in training at that time. The copy of the memo I have has a written comment by ‘T.P.S.’ (Tom Stafford), which reads: “I like breast myself.” To which John Young added: “I’m a leg man.”

Original artwork by McDonnell artist Anthony Tharenos.

Reproduction embroidered patch.
82mm dia

Allegedly a flown Gemini 12 embroidered patch. Thanks to Donnis Willis for this image.

The 2010 remake by AB Emblem.
77mm dia

Gemini 12 patch artwork by Anthony Tharenos, signed by the Gemini 12 crew. Thanks to Anthony Tharenos for this image.

Tharenos was asked to make a rendering for the backup crew as well. Thanks to Anthony Tharenos for this image.

NASA Photo 66-HC-1855
This NASA photograph shows the complete set of Gemini patches, with the final mission patch being sewn onto one of the crew pressure suits. Things to note: the relative sizes of the patches — e.g. Gemini 5 v. Gemini 8; The Gemini 6A patch is the “Gemini 6” version rather than the GTA-6 version in the official NASA photo of the mission patch; the shape of the Gemini IX patch — nearly flat on the bottom, and high on the sides — not quite matching the artwork.