March 16, 1966 – NASA launches Gemini 8

Gemini 8 was a manned spaceflight launched March 16, 1966. It was the sixth Gemini flight, and the 12th manned American flight overall. The crew was made up of Command Pilot Neil Armstrong and David Scott.

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One of the two major objectives included a difficult docking maneuver. About this Wikipedia says:

“What followed the successful docking by Armstrong were some of the most hair-raising few minutes in space-program history. The Gemini VIII capsule, still docked to the Agena, began rolling continuously. Never having faced this in simulation, the crew undocked from the Agena. The problem was a stuck thruster on the spacecraft, which now tumbled even faster at the dizzying rate of one revolution per second. The only way to stop the motion was to use the capsule’s reentry control thrusters, which meant that Armstrong and Scott had to cut short their mission and make an emergency return to Earth 10 hours after launch. They were still nauseated after splashdown, as well as disappointed: Scott had missed out on the planned space-walk.”

Gemini 8 “successfully docked with Gemini Agena target vehicle GATV-6 hours 34 min after liftoff. Because of problems with the spacecraft control system, the crew was forced to undock after approximately 30 min. The spacecraft-target vehicle combination had begun to encounter increasing yaw and roll rates. The crew regained control of their spacecraft by using the reentry control system, which prompted an early landing in a secondary landing area in the Pacific. No EVA was performed. The failure was caused by an electrical short in control system. Docking and re-rendezvous secondary objectives were not achieved due to the shortened mission.”
Source: NASA

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~ by tellinghistory on March 16, 2007.

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