50th Anniversary: Gemini’s First Docking of Two Spacecraft In Earth Orbit

By  //  March 17, 2016

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Delicious Digg This Stumble This

crucial spaceflight technology milestone

Gemini VIII command pilot Neil Armstrong, left, and pilot David Scott, stand in front of a radar antenna during a photo session at Cape Kennedy Air Force Station. (NASA.gov image)

Gemini VIII command pilot Neil Armstrong, left, and pilot David Scott, stand in front of a radar antenna during a photo session at Cape Kennedy Air Force Station. (NASA.gov image)

BREVARD COUNTY • CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – On March 16, 1966, command pilot Neil Armstrong and pilot David Scott successfully docked their Gemini VIII spacecraft with the Agena target vehicle, the first-ever linking of two spacecraft together in Earth orbit.

This crucial spaceflight technology milestone would prove vital to the success of future moon landing missions.

Catching up with already-orbiting spacecraft also has been essential during missions to the International Space Station.

The astronauts aboard the Gemini spacecraft took this side view photograph of the Agena target vehicle at a distance of 45 feet during an inspection prior to docking. The two spacecraft were in the third orbit of the mission, above the west coast of Mexico.

In the photograph on the left, the Atlas Agena target vehicle for the Gemini VIII mission lifts off from Launch Pad 14 at Cape Kennedy at 10 a.m. on March 16, 1966. One hour and 41 minutes later, Gemini VIII astronauts Neil Armstrong and David Scott are launched atop a Titan II rocket from the Cape's Launch Pad 19. (NASA.gov image)

In the photograph on the left, the Atlas Agena target vehicle for the Gemini VIII mission lifts off from Launch Pad 14 at Cape Kennedy at 10 a.m. on March 16, 1966. One hour and 41 minutes later, Gemini VIII astronauts Neil Armstrong and David Scott are launched atop a Titan II rocket from the Cape’s Launch Pad 19. (NASA.gov image)

NASA Gemini VIII First Docking Turns To Wild Ride in Orbit, Quickly Became In-Flight EmergencyRelated Story:
NASA Gemini VIII First Docking Turns To Wild Ride in Orbit, Quickly Became In-Flight Emergency

Because of problems with the Gemini spacecraft control system, the crew was forced to undock after approximately 30 minutes, as 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 (RCS), and the decision was made in Mission Control to follow mission rules that dictated once the RCS was activated, the crew must be brought home.

VIDEO SPECIAL: International Space Station Benefits For Humanity, Serving the WorldRelated Story:
VIDEO SPECIAL: International Space Station Benefits For Humanity, Serving the World

The Gemini VIII landed early in a secondary landing area in the Pacific, splashing down within two miles of the predicted impact point 10 hours, 41 minutes after liftoff.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE SPACE NEWS

On March 16, 1966, command pilot Neil Armstrong and pilot David Scott successfully docked their Gemini VIII spacecraft with the Agena target vehicle, the first-ever linking of two spacecraft together in Earth orbit. (NASA.gov image)

On March 16, 1966, command pilot Neil Armstrong and pilot David Scott successfully docked their Gemini VIII spacecraft with the Agena target vehicle, the first-ever linking of two spacecraft together in Earth orbit. (NASA.gov image)


Click here to contribute your news or announcements Free