'A Real Bright Star': 50 Years Since the First Space Rendezvous (Part 2)

Just 1.2 seconds after engine ignition on 12 December 1965, the Titan II suffered a premature shutdown. Instantly, Wally Schirra faced a life-or-death gamble: to hold his nerve or pull the ejection handle. He held his nerve and Gemini VI-A survived to fly another day. Photo Credit: NASA

“It’s death … or the ejection […]

'It's Death or the Ejection Seat': 50 Years Since the First Space Rendezvous (Part 1)

Backdropped by the grandeur of Earth, Gemini VII drifts serenely in the inky darkness, as seen from Gemini VI-A. Photo Credit: NASA

Just before Christmas in 1965—50 years ago, next week—a pair of Gemini spacecraft serenely circled Earth together and in close proximity. Aboard Gemini VII, astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell were midway through […]

Of Minds & Men: The First Rendezvous in Space (Part 2)

Beautiful view of Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford’s Gemini VI-A spacecraft, viewed by astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell aboard Gemini VII. Schirra’s gutsy decision to sit tight after the 12 December pad abort ensured that this historic rendezvous mission could go ahead. Photo Credit: NASA

“It’s death … or the ejection seat!” For […]

Of Minds & Men: The 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

Two weeks before Christmas in […]

Wally, Walt, and Whatshisname: The Three Heroes Who Set Apollo's Course for the Moon

Commander Wally Schirra (center) and crewmates Donn Eisele (left) and Walt Cunningham restored America’s confidence in the Apollo spacecraft and enabled NASA to put its bold plan for a voyage to lunar orbit in motion. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago today, on 22 October 1968, the future began. With the successful return of […]

'Yabadabadoo!' 45 Years Since Apollo 7 Charted a Course for the Moon (Part 1)

Commander Wally Schirra (center) and crewmates Donn Eisele (left) and Walt Cunningham restored America’s confidence in the Apollo spacecraft and enabled NASA to put its bold plan for a voyage to lunar orbit in motion. Photo Credit: NASA

On 30 May 1968, a brand-new spacecraft arrived at Cape Kennedy, Fla. Known formally as “Spacecraft […]

'M Equals 1': The All-Up Mission of Gemini XI (Part 1)

Dick Gordon (left) and Pete Conrad await the start of an emergency water egress training exercise in the Gulf of Mexico in July 1966. Photo Credit: NASA

Not all astronauts get on with one another, but if there ever was a crew whose members could be described as best buddies, it would be Gemini […]