I am often asked, “What is your favorite human spaceflight mission patch?” Without hesitation my response is always the Apollo 8 mission patch. The mission of Apollo 8 took place between 21 December and 27 December 1968. The crew of Apollo 8, Frank Borman, William Anders, and James Lovell, were the first humans to leave the Earth and travel to another celestial body. While the crew of Apollo 8 did not land on the Moon, they were the first humans to ride the mighty Saturn V rocket, the first to see the far-side of the Moon, and the first to see Planet Earth while in lunar orbit. The mission of Apollo 8 represents exploration at its greatest. Sending humans on an experimental journey to a far-away destination on a mission of discovery epitomizes our desire to explore.
The triangular form of the patch echoes the shape of the Apollo command module, and is roughly the shape of the letter “A” as in Apollo. The red “8” denotes the mission number and alludes to the circumlunar trajectory of the Apollo 8 mission. The Earth is shown near the bottom of the patch and is the beginning and ending point for the mission. The Moon is shown near the top and farther away thus representing the distance that must be traveled during the mission as well as the mystery which surrounded the Moon at the time of the mission. Designed by Apollo 8’s command module pilot James Lovell and rendered by Gene Rickman, the mission patch remains one of the most popular and well-liked patches of Project Apollo. To learn more about NASA’s mission patches, go online and visit the NASA History Division website.