THOMAS STAFFORD'S FLOWN GEMINI IX EMBLEM.
MULTIPLE LAUNCH ATTEMPTS AND AN ANGRY ALLIGATOR. FLOWN cloth crew mission emblem taken on the flight by Gemini IX Pilot Thomas Stafford. Approximately 3 ½ by 4 inches, shield-shaped. Featuring a Gemini spacecraft in docking configuration with an Agena target vehicle and space walking astronaut. A large roman numeral "IX" is embroidered on a blue background above the crew names. Mounted between paragraphs on a Typed Letter Signed by THOMAS P. STAFFORD from his business stationery.
THOMAS P. STAFFORD'S signed provenance letter reads: "Displayed below is a crew emblem I carried on the Gemini IX mission during June 3 to 6, 1966. I was spacecraft commander with Gene Cernan serving as pilot. During our flight we completed a rendezvous with a target vehicle but the vehicle's protective launch shroud failed to jettison. I called it the 'Angry Alligator' because of the jaw shaped appearance of the shroud.
The flight was originally assigned to fellow astronauts Elliott See and Charles Bassett. Unfortunately they lost their lives in a T-38 jet crash. Since Gene and I were the back-up crew, we were assigned the prime crew positions.
The emblem illustrates the objectives of our mission a docking with an Agena target vehicle and performing a spacewalk. Our Agena never reached orbit on our first launch attempt, then a computer failure scrubbed the second attempt to reach the new "ATDA" target vehicle just placed into orbit. But the third time was the charm as we finally reached orbit on June 3.
Gene's spacewalk proved to be almost as difficult after his helmet face plate fogged over and he became virtually blind. With some difficulty, he was able to return to the spacecraft cabin. We then both struggled to close the hatch. There was still a lot to learn about working outside a spacecraft in 1966."