This site is dedicated to the artists who did the artwork for the
patches depicted on this site, including
Galina Balashova (Apollo-Soyuz)
Jean Beaulieu (Apollo 14)
William Bradley (Gemini 7 and Apollo 8)
James Cooper (Apollo 11)
Victor Craft (Apollo 12)
Jerry Elmore (Apollo 15)
Frank Kelly Freas (Skylab 1)
Barbara Matelski (Apollo 16 and Skylab 3)
Robert McCall (Apollo 17)
Jean Pinataro (Apollo-Soyuz)
Gene Rickman (Apollo 8)
Allen Stevens (Apollo 1, 7, 9 and 10)
Anthony Tharenos (Gemini 12)
Norman Tiller (Apollo 13)
While this site includes a page that
gives a brief biographical sketch of a very few of the artists whose
work directly or indirectly resulted in the patches documented here,
many of the artists are practically unknown -- like thousands and
thousands of men and women whose work resulted in the astounding
voyages of discovery that constituted the "Golden Age"
of spaceflight -- and so I have no information about them beyond
their names. Thank you all.
What the Site is About
If you have any interest in manned spaceflight, you are almost
certainly familiar with the "crew patches" that are used to identify
each mission. These days, it's easy to purchase a fine embroidered
patch -- sometimes months before the mission gets off the ground.
There are few variations and virtually no artistic reinterpretation.
But this was not always the case.
While patches have been in use since Gemini 4, it is difficult
to find embroidered reproductions of the Gemini or early Apollo
patches that actually look like the patches the astronauts used.
The actual embroidered patches used by the astronauts were usually
around 4" in size; only souvenir patches were created in the
smaller 3" size (3" patches are not treated in these pages).
Even so, most 4" patches for flights prior to Apollo 11 were
not particularly faithful to the actual patch design (beginning
with Apollo 11 most of the 4" embroidered patches were much more
faithful to the design). While it is not difficult to track down
the original artwork for these patches (they are available at NASA
image archives on the web), the poorly-executed embroidered
versions are so pervasive that images of them are used more than
the original artwork. The two published books on space patches --
We Did Was Fly to the Moon and Kaplan & Muniz' Space
Patches -- use the poorly executed embroidered patches in
their illustrations. Even NASA web sites that purport to catalog
early patch designs often use these poor representations (e.g.,
see the NASA headquarters Apollo
patches page). Lately they have even served as the basis for
digital reductions of the patches.
Example of Image Deterioration
Here is the original artwork for the
Apollo 7 patch.
While this embroidered patch embodies
significant alterations from the artwork, it is still reasonably
On the other hand, this far more commonly
seen embroidered patch bears only a superficial resemblance
to the artwork.
Someone, somewhere, decided to make a
"cleaned up" digital version -- but they started
from the already poor embroidered version!
This is a pity, because the original designs are virtually always
far more attractive. And if embroidered patches are desired, better
embroidered versions can be found, with a little work
What this site strives to do is to present the variety of designs
of pre-shuttle patches, with an emphasis on the original artwork,
in the hope of making at least a small dent in the pervasiveness
of what I consider "ugly" patch images on the web and in print.
Along the way, you may find some interesting stories about these
patches and their derivation.
Who I am and My Relationship to Patches
I was 12 years old when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. I'd been
avidly following the space program since late in the Gemini project.
I devoured everything I could find on the subject of space flight.
By the time of the last Apollo launch (the Apollo-Soyuz flight in
1975) I had amassed quite a collection of "stuff" relating to space
missions. Subsequent upheavals in my life resulted in the dispersion
of the bulk of this material. One of the few things I preserved
was my prized collection of Apollo patches that I'd collected at
the time of the flights. I intentionally did not have any
patches for missions prior to Apollo 11, because I felt that the
patches that were available simply didn't look like the actual patches,
and were for the most part not even attractive.
With the widespread adoption of the World Wide Web, I found that
not only could I easily collect electronic versions of the original
designs, but that there actually were better embroidered
patches, and they were out there to be had. Since then I've
substantially enhanced my collection of patches through eBay auctions,
and through a very few specialized dealers. More information on
acquiring patches can be found on the Collecting
How to contact me
If you'd like to contact me about any aspect of space patches,
and especially if you have any comments about this site, please
feel free send me feedback.
I'd love to hear any additional information you might have about
This page copyright © 2000-2018 Eugene Dorr.
All rights reserved.