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Back-up-Crew Patch

Copyright © 2005 by Ulrich Lotzmann and Eric M. Jones.
All rights reserved.
Scan credits in the Image Library
Last revised 26 May 2006.
Apollo 14 Back-up Crew Patch

Backup-Crew Patch

Journal Contributor Brian Lawrence notes:
"The backup crew (Roadrunner) are depicted waiting
on the Moon for the prime crew (Wile E. Coyote)
to arrive. The Coyote has red fur for Roosa, a pot belly
for Mitchell, and a grey beard for Shepard."


Early in EVA-1, Al and Ed are setting up the MET.

115:03:07 Shepard: Okay. Put it down. (Pause) Let's get the...(Pause) Deploy it while it's still up here. There we go.
[After unfolding the wheels, they have to lock the front legs and handle into place.]
115:03:24 Mitchell: Well, let's see...We've had visitors again.

115:03:28 Shepard: Yeah. Hardly worth mentioning.

115:03:33 Mitchell: Agree. (Pause)

[Jones - "I had heard that the backup crew had put notes in lots of places on the spacecraft. Did you just find one on the MET?"]

[Mitchell - "I think what we're talking about there is one of their patches, because they put the goddamn things all over the spacecraft and, whenever we opened up something, there would be one of them. It had a Roadrunner on it and was a parody of our patch."]

[The exchange 'Visitors...hardly worth mentioning,' is, of course, a very dry, joking dismissal of the backup crew.]


On 16 May 2005, while reviewing the 16-mm film of the flag depoyment, Ulli Lotzmann spotted what is undoubtedly a backup-crew patch on the back of Al's PLSS.

Back of A14 PLSSs

Shepard's PLSS has the usual NASA patch at the top - just below the US flag on the back of the OPS - and an extraneous patch about halfway down on the right. Mitchell's PLSS has nothing at that location.

The image on the 16-mm film doesn't provide enough detail to establish that we are seeing a backup-crew patch. Lotzmann points to a short TV sequence with a somewhat better image of the suspect patch. However, even in this case, the image quality isn't good enough to allow a determination.

Back of A14 PLSSs

Comparison of the lunar surface TV image with the two patches
Finally, Lotzmann located TV images from the initial LM inspection which show the back of Al Shepard's PLSS. He writes, "As the light conditions in the LM were very poor during this broadcast, I used a couple of still frames and stacked them together to get an image with lower noise. Without this digital enhancement, you see almost no detail."

Back of A14 PLSSs

Comparison of the LM-Inspection TV image with the two patches.
The extraneous patch on the back of Shepard's PLSS is clearly a backup-crew patch


Finally, Lotzmann notes that Shepard and Mitchell seem to have removed the backup-crew patch from the back of Shepard's PLSS during their time in the cabin between the EVAs, as indicated by the following contrast-enhanced detail from AS14-68-9422.

Back of Shepard PLSS during EVA-2

Contrast-enhanced view of the back of Shepard's PLSS during EVA-2.
(Click on the image for a larger version.)


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