| Skylab Expedition 2
The Skylab Expedition 2 patch has as its central image an adaptation
of a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci,
inspired by the writings of the first century BCE Roman architect
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio in his De Architectura libri decem
(Ten Books on Architecture), the oldest and most influential
work on the subject. The third book suggests that buildings should
reflect the proportions of the human figure: this figure would fit
into the perfect geometric figures of the circle and the square.
Proportional Study of Man in the Manner of Vitruvius was
drawn around 1487.
"Initially we asked the art departments at Rockwell (LA), McDonnell
Douglas at Huntington Beach (builders of the Skylab), Kennedy Space
Center and others to search the windmills of their minds for our
mission patch considering the major objectives of Skylab -- Earth,
Sun and Medical. The group at Huntington Beach was selected, although
we received many good ideas from all of them.
"We had decided that our patch should be red, white and blue for
obvious reasons. The Earth half of the patch is pretty straightforward.
The sun half is a little special in that the solar flare depicted
in yellow orange is the shape of one Owen Garriott had done extensive
analysis on years before. Leonardo Da Vinci's man represents the
medical aspects of the flight. Certain modifications were made in
Da Vinci's art to make it more suitable for family viewing.
"An interesting sidelight involves the wives'
patch, a 'first' that was done without our knowledge. The first
time we saw the 'wives' patch was when we arrived in orbit and began
to open the storage lockers in the Command Module to get our gear
out. Neatly pasted to the interior of three of these locker doors
were decals of the "wives" patch. This was a great idea and consistent
with one of our mottos, 'Never lose your sense of humor.'"
-- Jack Lousma, from All
We Did Was Fly to the Moon
In my opinion, this is one of the best-looking patches. It's interesting
to note that Alan Bean, commander of the Skylab Expedition 2 crew,
later retired from NASA to become a full-time artist, and yet I
have not read any account of his bringing his artistic abilities
to bear on either this patch or the patch for Apollo
12, of which he was also a crew member.
The "Vitruvian Man" was used again (with the circle and
square omitted) as a design element on the STS-40 mission patch
in 1991, though much less prominently than on the Skylab Expedition
The drawing by Leonardo DA Vinci, Proportional
Study of Man in the Manner of Vitruvius, which served
as the inspiration for the Skylab Expedition 2 mission patch.
NASA photo ID: S72-51123
Taken: 1 Feb 1973
Beta cloth version of the Skylab Expedition 2 patch.
Embroidered Skylab Expedition 2 patch, AB Emblem version.
102mm w × 103mm h
Embroidered Skylab Expedition 2 patch, Lion Brothers version.
The hallmark in the Lion Brothers Skylab
Expedition 2 patch consists of the initials of the crew
-- "BGL" -- sewn into the edge of the sun around
The wives patch is nearly identical
to the original patch except that the male da Vinci figure
is replaced by a female figure -- in a somewhat more relaxed
pose; and the names around the patch are "SUE HELEN-MARY GRATIA",
for Sue Bean, Helen-Mary Garriott and Gratia Lousma. Ardis
Shanks, who was an artist in the Houston area (and Alan
Bean's art teacher, to boot!) drew the female figure.
She and French journalist Jacques Tiziou both had patches
made from this design, and Tiziou had an astronaut acquaintance
secret a number of patches in the Skylab expedition 2
The patch on the left [sk03wi-em1] is one of 320 originals
made by Tiziou (my thanks to Jacques Tiziou for this image).
The patch on the right [sk03wi-em2] is an unauthorized
The wives of the Skylab II crew with
the artist who drew the figure for the "wives" patch.
Left to right: Helen-Mary Garriott, Sue Bean, artist Ardis
Shanks, and Gratia Lousma. My thanks to Ardis Shanks for
There is a footnote to this story, which is related only obliquely
to the Skylab Expedition 2 patch, in that it springs from the same
Hamilton Sundstrand, the manufacturer of the Shuttle EVA (extravehicular
activity, known colloquially as a "space walk") suits,
designed this patch to be affixed to all of its space suits -- since
company logos are verboten on NASA equipment. This patch is also
based on the da Vinci "Vitruvian Man" theme, but is updated
for the space age: the central human figure is an astronaut suited
for EVA. While this is a bit of a liberty with a classic image,
it does address two modern concerns: the spacesuited figure is androgynous
to reflect that female astronauts perform EVAs as well as male astronauts;
and it presumably cushions delicate sensibilities from abuse.
This page copyright © 2000-2006 Eugene Dorr.
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