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    The first mission to have an insignia patch.

    Gemini 5: Mission Commander Gordon Cooper's Worn and Flown Space Suit Insignia Patch Originally from His Personal Collection, with Signed and Certified Storage Envelope. This is the very 4" embroidered mission insignia patch that was on Cooper's space suit during this record-breaking mission with Pete Conrad, August 21-29, 1965. Previous to this, American space missions had no individualized insignia. Astronauts White and McDivitt, of Gemini 4, had wanted to name their spacecraft American Eagle but it was forbidden by NASA. They did, however, set quite a precedent by sewing American flags on their space suits. Cooper and Conrad desired their mission to have a unique insignia, as was tradition by most military units. Cooper wanted to use a Conestoga Wagon image to symbolize the pioneering nature of the mission with the slogan "8 Days or Bust". This was to be the longest mission attempted by either the U.S. or U.S.S.R. to that date. NASA brass gave in on the patch but put their foot down on the slogan; their thinking was that it placed too much emphasis on the duration and not enough on the experiments performed. The compromise was that a piece of cloth would be sewn across the wagon, hiding the slogan. They followed the rules laid down, and every subsequent U.S. mission has had its own insignia. Included with this lot is the envelope that Cooper used to store this patch in his collection. He has written: "This is the Patch Flown/ on Cooper's Suit on Gemini V/ Gordon Cooper" as well as an 8" x 10" B&W glossy photo of Cooper and Conrad in space suits on the deck of the recovery ship wearing their patches. Close-up inspection of NASA image S65-51442 shows a perfect match. Also included is an early photocopy of a memo, dated August 18, 1965, sent from Deke Slayton in Flight Crew Operations to all astronauts spelling out the policy of personal items on space flights and mission badges. Light wear on patch, excellent condition.

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    More Information:

    Excerpt from Gordon Cooper's book, Leap of Faith, regarding the patch:


    "Several months before the mission, I mentioned to Pete that I'd never been in a military organization that didn't have its own patch. Pete hadn't either. We decided right then and there that we were at least going to have a patch for our flight.


    "Pete's father-in-law had whittled a model of a Conestoga wagon, the preferred mode of transportation for pioneers of an earlier era. We thought a covered wagon might be a good way to symbolize the pioneering nature of our flight. Since our mission was designed to last eight days, the longest ever attempted by the United States or the Soviet Union, we came up with the slogan '8 Days or Bust,' which we overlaid on a Conestoga wagon. We gave the design to a local patch company, and they produced hundreds of them. Pete and I had ours sewn on the right breast of our space suits.


    "Two days before launch, Jim Webb, in from Washington, beckoned us to Houston for what was to become a prelaunch tradition: dinner and a social evening for the prime crew at the home of Bob Gilruth.... That night during dinner, I decided we had to tell Webb about our '8 Days or Bust' patch because it wasn't fair for him to find out by surprise or through the media.


    '"Jim, you've taken our spacecraft names away from us, and as you know, none of us particularly like it,' I said. 'Pete and I want to personalize our flight, and we've designed a really neat mission patch.'


    "Webb about went into hysterics. The patch was in direct violation of his efforts to depersonalize the space program. The argument got so heated that at one point Bob Gilruth and I had to pull Webb and Pete apart-the overall head of NASA and one of his astronauts were stopped just short of fisticuffs.


    "When Webb cooled down, I explained how Pete and I had never been in a military organization that didn't have a patch. 'It's not just for the guys flying,' I went on, 'but for the hundreds of people working on the launch equipment and operating the worldwide tracking range and all the other things that go into a successful mission. Wearing that patch tells the world that they worked on Gemini 5.'


    "Webb asked me if I had the patch with me.


    "Unfortunately we hadn't thought to bring one.


    "He asked that one be flown to Washington the next day. 'I'll look at it and make a decision,' he said.


    '"Fair enough, Jim.


    "The next day, after reviewing the patch, Webb called me at the Cape. All right, I'll approve this patch on one condition.'


    '"What's that?'


    '"That you cover the "8 Days or Bust" until you make the eight days. If you don't make eight days, I don't want the press having a field day about the mission being a bust.'


    "So we had little pieces of canvas lightly sewn over the offending slogan."


    Memo sent from James Webb to Deke Slayton, regarding the patch:


    August 14, 1965


    MEMORANDUM FOR: Mr. Donald K. Slayton, MSC, Houston, Texas


    As I promised at Houston, the question of the identification patch or emblem that Cooper and Conrad wish to wear on Gemini flight 5 has been thoroughly discussed and it is now agreed by Gilruth, Mueller, Dryden, Seamans, and myself as follows:


    On GT-5 and future Gemini flights, such an identification may be worn on the right breast beneath the name plate of the astronaut; said "patch" to be no larger than the NASA emblem worn on the left breast. This patch will be referred to by the generic name of the "Cooper patch." If such "Cooper patch" is not to be worn, the designation of the flight "Gemini 6" or "Gemini 7" may be suitably put beneath the nameplate.


    For GT-5, the "Cooper patch" will be the one submitted, except that the size must be in accordance with paragraph 1 above, unless it is impossible to get it remade in time, and it must be worn on the suit at the location specified.


    For Gemini flights after GT-5, the crew commander or senior pilot will be permitted to designate or design or recommend a "Cooper patch" for his flight, subject to approval by both the Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center and the Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight at NASA headquarters. Until further notice, the Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight will, prior to approval, submit the design to the Administrator for his concurrence.


    A policy for flights after the present Gemini series will be recommended by the Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center.


    While the above decision has been made because of the strong personal appeal Cooper made to me, I must say I have some concern about the fact that it was made so late and that the most urgent and important factors affecting the Gemini program seem to get involved in a morale matter such as this and at the last moment. I believe it is your responsibility to avoid this in the future.


    When we are dealing with matters which affect the way elements of these programs are viewed in many different countries by many different nationalities, we cannot leave to the crew the decision with respect to these matters no matter how strongly they feel that they would like to have some element of individuality. In this case, both Dr. Gilruth and I have a very strong concern about the "8 days or bust" motto. I wish it could be omitted. If the flight does not go 8 days, there are many who are going to say it was "busted." Further, whether we get the 8 days or not, the way the language will be translated in certain countries will not be to the benefit of the United States.


    As I explained to Cooper, there is the strongest desire on my part to pay very real attention to any and every request made, even on a personal basis, by any of the seven original astronauts. To each of them, as those who were the real pioneers, we will endeavor to give every possible consideration and the benefit of every doubt. However, I believe they and all the astronauts must learn to do the same with respect to the judgment of the senior officials of this agency regarding the matters on which we are required to have a broader view than they can have.


    James E. Webb



    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2012
    12th Saturday
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