Did you know every human mission NASA has flown since Gemini V has its own patch? Space Center Houston partnered with VisitHouston to develop a patch commemorating the anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Houston-area artists competed to create a design inspired by the original Apollo 11 mission patch.

The winning patch was designed by Doug Litteken. Denise and Michael Okuda assisted Litteken in the final design. The Okudas worked as designers for the iconic sci-fi series Star Trek and have published multiple novels about the show. Michael has also designed several NASA patches and emblems.

About the patch

The winning patch highlights the Moon landing as well as Houston’s role in the historic mission.

As the home to Mission Control, “Houston” was the first word spoken on the Moon. When the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, named Eagle, landed on the surface of the Moon, astronaut Neil Armstrong said, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

The Lunar Module is also visible in the background of the patch along the horizon of the Moon. NASA uses metals, especially gold to protect equipment and astronauts from heat or thermal radiation, hence the gold lunar lander and gold helmet visor in the patch design.

In space, heat is transmitted from the Sun in the form of infrared radiation (IR). The gold helps to block or reflect the IR to keep objects from getting very hot. The gold on face shields protect the astronauts from the intense IR of sunlight. The gold on an astronaut’s visor reflects almost all IR, but allows about 60% of light to pass through. Other metals like aluminum and silver work well too, but they can corrode whereas gold does not.

The astronaut in the foreground of the patch resembles the extraordinary photos Armstrong took of fellow Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface.