'Send Up a Tanker': 50 Years Since the High-Flight of Gemini XI (Part 2)

To this day, Gemini XI retains the record for the highest altitude ever achieved by an Earth-orbital piloted mission. Only the Apollo lunar expeditions traveled further. Photo Credit: NASA

Tethering Gemini XI to Agena-XI was part of an experiment to evaluate the controllability of two vehicles in close proximity without control inputs. Photo Credit: NASA

Half a century ago, this coming week, on 12 September 1966, Gemini XI astronauts Charles “Pete” Conrad and Dick Gordon launched from Earth within a two-second-long “window” and […]

'Would You Believe M=1?' 50 Years Since the High-Flight of Gemini XI (Part 1)

Pete Conrad (foreground) and Dick Gordon, with dark EVA visor, are pictured aboard Gemini IX. Both men later journeyed to the Moon together on Apollo 12. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty years ago, this month, Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon’s Gemini XI mission would carry them to a peak 850 miles (1,370 km), which remains the highest altitude of any Earth-orbital mission. Only the Apollo lunar flights traveled higher on their expeditions to the Moon. Photo Credit: NASA

Not all astronauts get on with […]

'Otherwise Engaged': 50 Years Since the Double-Rendezvous, Double-Spacewalk Mission of Gemini X (Part 1)

Six hours after launching from Cape Kennedy on 18 July 1966, Gemini X Command Pilot John Young and Pilot Mike Collins rendezvoused and docked with Gemini-Agena Target Vehicle (GATV)-5005. It was the first of a record-setting two rendezvous to be performed during their three-day mission. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Six hours after launching from Cape Kennedy on 18 July 1966, Gemini X Command Pilot John Young and Pilot Mike Collins rendezvoused and docked with Gemini-Agena Target Vehicle (GATV)-5005. It was the first of a record-setting two rendezvous to be performed during their three-day mission. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Fifty years ago, […]

'Like an Angry Alligator': 50 Years Since the Challenging Mission of Gemini IX (Part 1)

Gene Cernan's EVA was the longest to date, by far the most complex...and intrinsically hazardous. Photo Credit: NASA

Gemini IX finally flew in June 1966, carrying astronauts Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan. Photo Credit: NASA

In many ways, NASA’s Gemini IX mission—tasked with spending three days in space, performing a lengthy spacewalk, a rendezvous, and a docking with an unmanned Agena target vehicle—was hamstrung by bad luck. First, in February 1966, its […]

'What Do You Suppose Stafford's Saying?': 50 Years Since Gemini IX Lost Its Agena (Part 2)

The pencil-like Gemini-Agena Target Vehicle (GATV), mounted atop its Agena booster, rises from Pad 14 at Cape Kennedy on 17 May 1966. Disaster engulfed the mission a few minutes later. Photo Credit: NASA

The Gemini IX crews consisted of Elliot See (front left) and Charlie Bassett (front right) and their backups, Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan. The deaths of the prime crew on 28 February 1966 forced Stafford and Cernan into their shoes, but was not the end of their misfortunes. On 17 May 1966, they also […]

'More Routine, Less Newsworthy': 50 Years Since Gemini IX Lost Its Agena (Part 1)

Had history been kinder, this might have been the view from Gemini IX's windows, 50 years ago, this week. However, the failure of the Gemini-Agena Target Vehicle (GATV) to reach orbit on 17 May 1966 led to a two-week delay to the mission of Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Had history been kinder, this might have been the view from Gemini IX’s windows, 50 years ago, this week. However, the failure of the Gemini-Agena Target Vehicle (GATV) to reach orbit on 17 May 1966 led to a two-week delay to the mission of Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim […]

A Mission of 'Almosts': Project Gemini's First Rendezvous in Space (Part 1)

Gemini VII, bearing astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell on a record-breaking 14-day mission, is seen through the windows of Gemini VI-A, with fellow spacefarers Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford. This mission, in December 1965, marked the first “true” rendezvous between two piloted vehicles in orbit. Photo Credit: NASA

Almost 50 years ago, the […]

Popeye Forearms: The Challenge of Gemini IX-A (Part 1)

An exhausted Gene Cernan can barely manage a grimace for Tom Stafford’s camera after completing his spacewalk on Gemini IX-A. Had the hands of fate played out a little differently, this seat might instead have been occupied by Charlie Bassett. Photo Credit: NASA

In the late spring of 1966, the Gemini IX mission seemed […]

'Tumbling End Over End': The Trauma of Gemini VIII (Part 2)

Dave Scott (left) and Neil Armstrong breathe the fresh air of Earth as the hatches of Gemini VIII are opened by a trio of U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen (PJs) after splashdown. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-eight years ago today, Gemini VIII astronauts Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott accomplished a key goal in America’s bid to land […]

'A Finite Number of Heartbeats': The Trauma of Gemini VIII (Part 1)

Neil Armstrong (left) and Dave Scott sought to fulfil many of the objectives needed to reach the Moon, including orbital rendezvous and docking. They were the only Gemini crew whose two members both walked on the Moon later in their careers. Photo Credit: NASA

At the dawn of 1966, America’s drive to land a […]