5 Facts about Gemini 8 (50th Anniversary!)

GEMINI 8

Today is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Gemini 8, the sixth manned flight of the program.

 

Agena, as seen from Gemini 8 during docking maneuver (NASA)
Agena, as seen from Gemini 8 during docking maneuver (NASA)

Its crew was Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott.

This mission represented the first docking of two spacecraft in orbit, when the Gemini capsule docked with the Agena target vehicle. All was going well.

Until it wasn’t, when Agena started executing preprogrammed maneuvers. The conjoined spacecraft began to roll. Scott undocked the Gemini from Agena.

But Gemini began to spin even faster, even as Armstrong tried to control the roll. The astronauts had trouble seeing and were close to passing out. Gemini 8 became the first aborted mission of the U.S. space program.

After a final orbit and less than 11 hours in space, Gemini 8 splashed down three days early in the Pacific Ocean instead of the Atlantic, as had been planned.

Gemini 8 Crew, 5 days before launch
Gemini 8 Crew, 5 days before launch

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