Gemini 6 - The NASA Mission Reports - edited by Robert Godwin

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Lost in the glare of Apollo's success, the Gemini program is often forgotten. Without the ten successful manned Gemini missions NASA could not have accomplished Kennedy's seemingly impossible goal of landing a man on the moon in the 1960's. Gemini 6 was the fifth manned flight of America's two-man spacecraft. Aboard were Commander Wally Schirra and rookie pilot Tom Stafford. Their original mission flight plan was to attempt the first ever docking and rendezvous in space, an essential step if the pilots flying Apollo would ever be able to meet up in orbit around the moon. The Soviet Union had claimed the first space rendezvous but many felt that unless the pilot was in control and able to maneuver around the accompanying vehicle it could not truly be called a rendezvous. On October 25th 1965 the target vehicle, known as Atlas/Agena failed to make orbit and so the crew of Gemini 6 were suddenly presented with a totally revised and audacious flight plan. The long duration Gemini 7 mission was already scheduled for launch and so the crew of Gemini 6 were told that NASA would attempt a double manned mission and rendezvous. This was undoubtedly a risky proposition which would stretch the NASA infra-structure to its limits. On December 15th 1965 ace pilot Schirra and rendezvous maestro Stafford closed to within a meter of Gemini 7 and America was one step closer to the moon