Friday, August 21, 2009

Today in Space
1965 Gemini V Launch

The most memorable aspect to this mission was, sadly, the mission patch - despite it was the longest flight at that time. It was the first flight to actually have a specific mission patch - noted as a missing item by the crew. All military missions always had patches. Since spacecraft naming was vetoed (had wanted to name it Lady Bird after Lady Bird Johnson), they decided to design a patch. With the pioneering nature of their flight (longest attempted), they went for a covered wagon and stuck "8 Days or Bust" on it. Which was met with great displeasure with the head of NASA and they flew with the "8 Days or Bust" covered up on the patch (they had already had hundreds made prior to the censorship). They were told once the mission succeeded, they could reveal the slogan. Despite Webb's efforts to depersonalize the space program (naming of Gus's GT-3 spacecraft as Molly Brown), the desire of the astronauts for mission identity won out... sort of, and Webb wrote a memo which established guidelines for crew insignias now called "Cooper patches."

The original NASA photo (S66-59530 actually taken in 1966) clearly shows the patch with a canvas cover on it. However, the flight patches on their suits have different lettering for their names. And postflight photos show no 8 Days or Bust. So, not sure how they could have uncovered it as stated by Cooper's ghost writer in "Leap of Faith." Photos after the flight (inspection of recovered capsule) of them in their jumpsuits show no patches either. That custom was adopted later (maybe only by the shuttle guys).

The NASA websites all use different patches/illustrations - many still show no 8 Days or Bust. Presumably because "8 Days or Bust" never really flew on their spacesuit. The original photo above of an obvious original patch with the words covered up supports this since it was taken in 1966.

I might add, there were Robbins type medallions flown and they included the words "8 Days or Bust."

Original Patch per Cooper's autograph!
Patch history and details.

Neat Project Gemini Diagrams!

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