Apollo Mission Emblem

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The Apollo 11 mission emblem was designed by command module pilot Michael Collins, who wanted a symbol for “peaceful lunar landing by the United States.”

At the suggestion of fellow Apollo astronaut Jim Lovell, he chose the bald eagle, the national bird of the United States, as the symbol.

Tom Wilson, a simulator instructor, suggested that they put an olive branch in its beak to represent their peaceful mission. Collins added a lunar background with the Earth in the distance. The sunlight in the image was coming from the wrong direction; the shadow should have been in the lower part of the Earth instead of the left. Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins decided that the Eagle and the Moon would be in their natural colors, and decided on a blue and gold border. Armstrong was concerned that “eleven” would not be understood by non-English speakers, so they went with “Apollo 11,” and they decided not to put their names on the patch, so it would “be representative of everyone who had worked toward a lunar landing”.

An illustrator at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas, did the artwork, which was then sent off to NASA officials for approval. The design was rejected. Bob Gilruth, the director of the MSC felt that the talons of the eagle looked “too warlike.” After some discussion, the olive branch was moved to the talons. When the Eisenhower dollar coin was released in 1971, the patch design provided the eagle for its reverse side. The design was also used for the smaller Susan B. Anthony dollar unveiled in 1979.