'Only Tom Really Knows': 50 Years Since the Challenging Mission of Gemini IX (Part 2)

A view of Gemini IX, including its maneuvering thrusters, taken by Gene Cernan. His lengthy tether is clearly visible. Photo Credit: NASA

Five decades ago, one of the hairiest and most difficult missions in America’s space history unfolded. Gemini IX-A was already complex—a three-day flight, involving rendezvous, docking, maneuvering, and spacewalking—but had endured additional […]

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

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 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 […]

'Who Was in NASA 901?': 50 Years Since the Accident Which Changed Project Gemini (Part 2)

The remains of NASA 901, the T-38 jet which carried the Gemini IX prime crew of Elliot See and Charlie Bassett. Photo Credit: St. Louis Post-Dispatch archive

At 7:41 a.m. CST on 28 February 1966—exactly 50 years ago, to this very day—a pair of sleek T-38 Talon jets took off from Ellington Field, near […]

'A Very Great Honor': 50 Years Since the Accident Which Changed Project Gemini (Part 1)

Assigned in November 1965, the Gemini IX crew of Elliot See (left) and Charlie Bassett were tasked with flying a 48-72-hour mission in the late spring of 1966. Their flight would have demonstrated rendezvous, docking, maneuvering, and spacewalking. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty years ago, this month, in February 1966, NASA and America’s effort to […]

'Working a Monkey Board': The First 50 Years of Spacewalking (Part 1)

Five decades have now passed since humanity’s first foray beyond the confines of their pressurized spacecraft and into the airless void beyond. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty years ago, today, on 18 March 1965, a 30-year-old Soviet cosmonaut named Alexei Leonov became the first human in history to depart the confines of his spacecraft in […]

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 […]

Spacecraft Films: Gemini IX's Recovery

[youtube_video] http://youtu.be/TAgP8zfjaEY [/youtube_video]

Video courtesy of Spacecraft Films

On June 6, 1966, the Gemini IX-A crew returned to Earth under the parachutes of their Gemini spacecraft; thus drawing to a close one of the most complex and dangerous missions in human space flight history. The mission had already lost its prime crew in […]

Spacecraft Films: The Launches of Gemini IX-A

[youtube_video]http://youtu.be/mOdcUwlWBDc[/youtube_video]

Video courtesy of Spacecraft Films

On June 3, 1966, the Gemini IX-A crew thundered into orbit—and the history books—atop their Titan launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It would become one of the most complex and dangerous missions in human space flight history. The mission had already […]