“The Apollo 7 design itself highlighted the earth
orbital nature of the mission. It was our original intention to emphasize
the first manned Apollo (Gus Grissom’s flight) and the
recovery from the fire on the pad aspects as well. We considered a
spacecraft rising from a ball of fire and calling it the Phoenix. The
patch designed was subject to NASA approval and we abandoned the Phoenix
theme feeling it would be rejected as in bad taste. I zeroed in on a
circle (for the Earth) and an ellipse (for orbit). The orbital plane was
tilted for artistic reasons.”
—Walt Cunningham, The
This patch, and all patches through ASTP were worn on the left breast.
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
For years, Walt Cunningham has been pained by the really awful
interpretations of the design he was instumental in creating. In 2010 he
undertook (with the assistance of Shuttle-era patch artist Tim Gagnon) to
issue a limited edition of 300, painstakingly crafted to capture the
original design. They are without a doubt, the definitive embroidered
version of this patch. Mr. Cunningham has made them available through his
NASA photo S68-26668
Beta cloth version of the Apollo 7 patch.
109mm w × 76mm h
According to John Bisney, this is the embroidered patch
that the crew wore on their post-recovery jumpsuits. The
white circular part was trimmed away prior to use. Thanks
to Bill Hunt for this image.
In 2010, overwhelmed by the pervasive sight of the
incredibly ugly AB Emblem patch (see below), Walt Cunningham undertook
to make a definitive embroidered version of the Apollo 7 design. This is
how the Apollo 7 patch should be remembered.
108mm w × 81mm h
AB Emblem embroidered Apollo 7 patch. The crew names are
not Eurostile Extended, which seriously changes the proportions;
the exhaust trail is misshapen; and the CSM bears only a superficial
resemblance to the original. Finally, the “VII”
designation — which defines the horizontal axis — is rotated
anti-clockwise, which causes the rest of the patch to be
tilted clockwise. Sadly, this is by far the most often seen version
of the Apollo 7 patch.
117mm w × 97mm h
The Lion Brothers embroidered Apollo 7 patch is a
much better rendition than the AB Emblem patch. However, the lettering
is still not the correct Eurostile Extended; and a white
border has been added surrounding the Earth. There are two
variants of this patch: one has a purple background, the
other a dark blue (neither of which is correct — it should be black).
115mm w × 88mm h
A 2006 remake of the Apollo 7 patch by Randy Hunt. A
vast improvement over the previously available designs, but
overshadowed by Walt Cunningham’s authentic remake.
117mm w × 95mm h
These proposals by artist Al Stevens show how the concept
of a CM-shaped patch evolved, a concept which culminated in the final Apollo
8 patch. Clearly, the idea of a Phoenix was seriously investigated before
being dropped. The last image shows the beginning of a series that evolved
into the final Apollo 7 patch. All these images are from the collection of
Noah Bradley, and used with his kind permission. More images of the evolution
of the Apollo 7 design can be seen in the
article by Hengeveld.
NASA photo S68-33744
The Apollo 7 crew pose for a portrait in the White Room.
This was taken in May 1968.
This detail from the crew portrait photo
clearly shows that the patches on the crew suits at the
time were neither Beta cloth nor embroidered. They were
probably vinyl — note the reflections on Eisele’s
and Cunningham’s patches. Apparently the beta cloth patches
had not yet been produced at the time of this photo.
NASA photo KSC-68PC-211
The Apollo 7 crew aboard the USS Essex, CVS-9.
This detail from the photo at left shows
that the patch worn on the recovery jumpsuit was almost
An unusual use for a patch — the Apollo
7 patch is used here as decoration for a helicopter landing
pad. Presumably this was for a visit of the Apollo 7 crew.
This detail from the previous photo clearly
shows the Apollo 7 patch.