A look back on Gemini 9

A mixed grill here in Auckland, some sun, some clouds with a few prostrate challenged attempts at light rain. Just enough to make the ground wet but not fill a cup.

With temperatures still very mild it hardly seems like we are in Winter. 

Looking at this 6th of June 2020, back in 1966 Gemini 9(A) splashed down at 13:59 GMT after a 3-day flight.  Gemini 9 was termed Gemini 9A, when 4 months prior to launch both original astronauts were killed during a routine flight to the McDonnell Space Center, for 2 weeks of simulator training.  The aircraft crashed into the Space Center building 300 metres from the runway.

Subsequently the back-up flight crew for Gemini was promoted to the main line.  This move proved to be windfall for Buzz Aldrin who was bumped up to the backup crew of Gemini 9A, which gave him crew time on Gemini 12.  This was the catalyst for his selection for Apollo 8 back up crew and eventually Apollo 11 prime crew, which enabled him to the second man on the moon.

The 2 main objectives of the Gemini 9 mission were to rendezvous with the Augmented Target Docking Adaptor (ATDA) and perform a spacewalk to demonstrate flight in a self-contained rocket pack.

The crew did meet with the ATDA but failed to dock because the nose fairing did not eject from the docking target.  This was a launch preparation error. 

Crew member Astronaut Eugene Cernan stepped out for a spacewalk where he was supposed to demonstrate flight in a self-contained rocket pack.  But this was unable to be completed because during the hour and a half he spent outside the spacecraft, he experienced bouts of high cardiac stress (155 beats per minute) and overheating to the extent that during times of exertion his visor would completely fog up.  You could say that he got off on the wrong foot because as soon as he exited the capsule, he immediately began to tumble uncontrollably.  His spacesuit according to Cernan had, “all the flexibility of a rusty suit of armour”

Cernan’s career exalted him to being the commander of the last flight to the moon. Apollo 17 marking the end of the Apollo era and as thus, he holds the position of being the last man to walk on the moon.  Cernan was the man who had the final say on the moon and his parting words….

“As I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I’d like to just (say) what I believe history will record: that America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus–Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17″

Cernan onboard Gemini 9

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