December 15, 1965 – Gemini 6A launches into orbit to rendevouz with Gemini VII
Walter Marty Schirra, Jr. (March 12, 1923 – May 3, 2007) was one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts chosen for the Project Mercury, America’s first effort to put men in space. He was the only man to fly in all of America’s first three space programs (Mercury, Gemini and Apollo). He flew on Mercury 8, Gemini 6A and Apollo 7.
“On December 15, 1965, Schirra flew into space a second time in Gemini 6A with Tom Stafford, rendezvousing with astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell, Jr. in Gemini 7. This was the first rendezvous of two manned spacecraft in earth orbit. The two vehicles, however, were not capable of actually docking. Gemini 6 landed in the Atlantic Ocean the next day, while Gemini 7 continued on to a record-setting 14-day mission.
While on the Gemini mission, Schirra attracted notoriety for playing “Jingle Bells” on a four-hole Hohner harmonica he had smuggled on board, and a “Wally Schirra” commemorative model was later produced.