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Encyclopedia > Gemini 6A
Gemini 6A
Mission insignia
Mission statistics
Mission name: Gemini 6A
Call sign: Gemini 6A
Number of
Launch: December 15, 1965
13:37:26.471 UTC
Cape Canaveral
LC 19
Stationkeeping w/GT-7:
December 15-16, 1965
19:33 UTC
00:52 UTC
Landing: December 16, 1965
15:28:50 UTC
23°35′N 67°50′W
Duration: 1 day, 1 hour
51 minutes
24 seconds
Distance traveled: ~694,415 km
Orbits: 16
(1st orbit)
259.4 km
(1st orbit)
161 km
(1st orbit)
88.7 min
Inclination: 28.97 deg
Mass: 3,546 kg
Crew picture
Gemini 6A crew portrait (L-R: Stafford, Schirra)
Gemini 6A crew portrait
(L-R: Stafford, Schirra)
Gemini 6A Crew

Gemini 6A (officially Gemini VI-A) was a 1965 manned spaceflight in NASA's Gemini program. It was the 5th manned Gemini flight, the 13th manned American flight and the 21st spaceflight of all time (includes X-15 flights over 100 km). It was the last U.S. spacecraft to be flown using batteries as the primary power source (except for the Apollo Lunar Module, which used batteries, but was augmented by the fuel cells on the Apollo Command Module while docked). All remaining Gemini flights used fuel cells. Image File history File links Ge06Patch_emb. ... December 15 is the 349th day of the year (350th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1965 (MCMLXV) was a common year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1965 calendar). ... Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is a high-precision atomic time standard. ... Cape Canaveral from space, August 1991 Cape Canaveral (Cabo Cañaveral in Spanish) is a strip of land in Brevard County, Florida, United States, near the center of that states Atlantic coast. ... The launch of Gemini 6A from LC-19. ... December 16 is the 350th day of the year (351st in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1965 (MCMLXV) was a common year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1965 calendar). ... Gemini 6A crew: Stafford, Schirra. ... NASA Insignia Listen to this article · (info) This audio file was created from an article revision dated 2005-09-01, and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... Project Gemini insignia Project Gemini was the second human spaceflight program in which the United States of America sent humans into space, between Projects Mercury and Apollo, during the years 1963-1966. ... Description Role: Research Aircraft Crew: one, pilot Dimensions Length: 50. ... ¹ ² ³ ™ bob loves cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee: The LEM flight instrumentation panel and front windows. ... Description Role: Earth and Lunar Orbit Crew: 3; CDR, CM pilot, LM pilot Dimensions Height: 36. ... A fuel cell is an electrochemical device similar to a battery, but differing from the latter in that it is designed for continuous replenishment of the reactants consumed; i. ...



*Number in parentheses indicates number of spaceflights by each individual, prior to and including this mission. Walter M. “Wally” Schirra Walter Marty Schirra, Jr. ... Thomas P. Stafford (born September 17, 1930) is an American astronaut and Air Force general. ...

Backup crew

Virgil Ivan Gus Grissom (April 3, 1926 – January 27, 1967) was a United States Air Force pilot who became the second American astronaut and one of the first to die in the U.S. space program. ... John W. Young in 1986 John Watts Young (born September 24, 1930) is a former NASA astronaut who walked on the Moon on Apollo 16, April 21, 1972. ...

Mission parameters

Unsolved problems in physics: What causes anything to have mass? Mass is a property of a physical object that quantifies the amount of matter and energy it is equivalent to. ... Perigee is the point at which an object in orbit around the Earth makes its closest approach to the Earth. ... This article is about several astronomical terms (apogee & perigee, aphelion & perihelion, generic equivalents based on apsis, and related but rarer terms. ... Inclination in general is the angle between a reference plane and another plane or axis of direction. ... The orbital period is the time it takes a planet (or another object) to make one full orbit. ...

See also

Atlantic splashdown locations of American spacecraft. ... The Agena Target Vehicle was designed to develop and practice orbital rendezvous and docking in space, in preparation for the lunar mission. ...


Gemini 6 was originally intended to be the first mission to dock with an Agena Target Vehicle. However, after a failure in the Agena target 6 minutes after its launch (when the crew of Gemini 6 was already sitting in their capsule waiting for their launch), the mission was canceled. Reviewing the situation, NASA decided to substitute an alternate mission: a meeting in space of two Gemini spacecraft. The new mission would be known as Gemini 6A, and would launch eight days after the launch of Borman and Lovell's Gemini VII. Schirra and Stafford tried to join them, but their Titan 2 launcher shut down on the pad (the cool-headed Schirra did not eject, even though the countdown clock had started ticking-he felt no motion, and trusted his senses). Three days later, Gemini 6A made it into orbit. Using guidance from the computer as well as his own piloting, Schirra performed the space rendezvous with the companion spacecraft in orbit on the afternoon of December 15. Once in formation, the two Gemini capsules flew around each other, coming within 0.3 meters of each other but never touching. The two spacecraft stayed in close proximity for five hours. One of Gemini's primary goals-orbital rendezvous-had been achieved. The Agena Target Vehicle was designed to develop and practice orbital rendezvous and docking in space, in preparation for the lunar mission. ... A space rendezvous between two spacecraft, often between a spacecraft and a space station, is an orbital maneuver where the two arrive at the same orbit, make the orbital velocities the same, and bring them together (an approach maneuver, taxiing maneuver); it may or may not include docking. ...

Gemini 6 Agena Info
Agena GATV-5002
Mass 3,261 kg
Launch site LC-14
Launch date October 25, 1965
Launch time 15:00:04 UTC
Exploded 15:06:20 UTC


Gemini 6A and Gemini 7 in orbit
Gemini 6A and Gemini 7 in orbit

Download high resolution version (900x906, 115 KB)Gemini spacecraft 6A and 7 rendezvous in orbit. ... Download high resolution version (900x906, 115 KB)Gemini spacecraft 6A and 7 rendezvous in orbit. ...

First launch attempt

The first launch attempt of Gemini 6A was on December 12. All went well right up to ignition--in fact the engines did ignite, but then a plug fell out of the bottom of the rocket, starting the onboard programmer. This was not meant to happen until the rocket had actually lifted off, and the onboard computer detected that there was no upwards motion, causing it to abort the launch. At this point mission rules dictated that the crew should eject from the spacecraft, as the rocket would explode on impact with the pad if it had lifted off by even an inch. December 12 is the 346th day (347th in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar, with 19 days remaining. ...

Schirra elected not to eject as neither he or Stafford had detected any upwards motion, and the ejection seats were seen as a last resort. In an early test of the system involving a dummy the hatch had failed to blow off and the dummy's head was rammed into the side of the spacecraft. Also all ejection seats cause compression of the spine and these were designed to send the astronauts a couple of hundred metres away from an exploding rocket.

The Martin and Air Force teams who erected and tested the rocket found that some plugs on the rocket were able to pull out more easily than others. They replaced them with the ones that were harder to pull out and on future missions, and a safety wire was added to make sure that the rocket had lifted off.

However, another problem was found as the engineers examined the thrust versus time graph. They found that the thrust rose nominally but started to get lower before the plug had fallen out. Through the night, engineers examined the rocket engine piece by piece until they found that a plastic cover had been left in the gas generator port. With this problem solved the rocket and spacecraft were recycled for a launch 72 hours after the first attempt.


The third attempt to launch Gemini Spacecraft Number 6 was finally successful on December 15. All went well through launch and ascent and the crew entered a 161 by 259 kilometers orbit.

The plan called for the rendezvous to take place on the fourth orbit of Gemini 6A. Their first burn came 94 minutes after launch when they increased their speed by 5 meters per second. Due to their lower orbit they were gaining on Gemini 7 and were only 1,175 kilometers behind. The next burn was at 2 hours and 18 minutes when Gemini 6A made a phase adjustment to put them on the same orbital inclination as Gemini 7. They now only trailed by 483 kilometers.

The radar on Gemini 6A first made contact with Gemini 7 at 3 hours and 15 minutes when they were 434 kilometers away. A third burn put them into a 270 by 274 kilometer orbit. As they slowly gained, Schirra put Gemini 6A's computer in charge of the rendezvous. At 5 hours and 4 minutes he saw a bright star that he thought was Sirius, but this was in fact Gemini 7.

The crew of Gemini 6 took this photo of Gemini 7 when they were about 7 meters apart
The crew of Gemini 6 took this photo of Gemini 7 when they were about 7 meters apart

After several more burns the two spacecraft were only 40 meters apart. The burns had only used 51 kilograms of fuel on Gemini 6A, giving plenty of fuel for some fly arounds. During the next 270 minutes the crews moved as close as 30 centimetres to 90 meters, talking over the radio. At one stage the spacecraft were stationkeeping so well that neither crew had to make any burns for 20 minutes. Gemini 6 views Gemini 7, PD NASA photo File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Gemini 6 views Gemini 7, PD NASA photo File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ...

As the sleep periods approached Gemini 6A made a separation burn and slowly drifted out to 16 kilometers. This ensured that there wouldn't be any accidental collisions in the night. But before everyone went to sleep, the crew of Gemini 6A had a surprise for everyone.

Gemini VII, this is Gemini VI. We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, probably in polar orbit…. Looks like he might be going to reenter soon. Stand by one…. You just might let me to pick up that thing…. I see a command module and eight smaller modules in front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit.

At that point, the sound of "Jingle Bells" was heard played on an 8-hole harmonica and a handful of small bells. The Smithsonian claims these were the first musical instruments played in space [1] and keeps the instruments on display. Wikibooks has a book on the topic of Harmonica A harmonica is a free reed musical wind instrument (also known, among other things, as a mouth organ or mouth harp, Hobo Harp, French harp, tin sandwich, lickin stick, blues harp, simply harp, or Mississippi saxophone), having multiple, variably-tuned brass... The Smithsonian castle, as seen through the garden gate. ...


Gemini 6A reentered the next day landing within 18 km of the planned site, the first truly accurate reentry. It was also the first to be televised live, through a satellite linkup from the recovery aircraft carrier USS Wasp. The ninth USS Wasp (CV-18) of the United States Navy was an Essex-class aircraft carrier. ...

The Gemini 7 & 6A missions were supported by the following U.S. Department of Defense resources; 10,125 personnel, 125 aircraft and 16 ships.


Walter Schirra explained the patch in his book All We Did Was Fly to the Moon:

Gemini 6A
The Gemini 6 patch is hexagonal in shape, reflecting the mission number; and the spacecraft trajectory also traces out the number "6". The Gemini 6 spacecraft is shown superimposed on the "twin stars" Castor and Pollux, for "Gemini".

I designed the patch to locate in the sixth hour of celestial right ascension. This was the predicted celestial area where the rendezvous should occur (in the constellation Orion). It finally did occur there. Image File history File links Cquote1. ...

Gemini 6A

The original patch had called the flight G-T-A-6 (for Gemini-Titan-Agena) and showed the Gemini craft chasing an Agena. It was changed when the mission was altered. Image File history File links Cquote2. ...

Capsule location

The capsule is currently on display at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City, after having been on display at the Omniplex Science Museum elsewhere in the city. It is on a long term loan from the Smithsonian Institution. Before coming to Oklahoma, the capsule was displayed at the St. Louis Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The Oklahoma History Center is a history museum located in Oklahoma City. ... Downtown Oklahoma City The State Capitol of Oklahoma From The South Motto: Nickname: Capital of the New Century Founded 1889 Incorporated County Oklahoma County Cleveland County Canadian County Borough {{{borough}}} Parrish {{{parrish}}} Mayor Mick Cornett Area  - Total  - Water 1,608. ... The Omniplex Science Museum is a complex of museums in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. ... The Smithsonian Institution Building or Castle on the National Mall serves as the Institutions headquarters. ... The James S. McDonnell Planetarium, one component of the St. ... Nickname: Gateway City, Gateway to the West, or Mound City Location in the state of Missouri Coordinates: Country United States State Missouri County Independent City Mayor Francis G. Slay (D) Area    - City 66. ...


  1. ^ Smithsonian magazine, December 2005

External links


Project Gemini Gemini program insignia
Previous mission: Gemini 7 Next mission: Gemini 8
Gemini 1 | Gemini 2 | Gemini 3 | Gemini 4 | Gemini 5 | Gemini 7 | Gemini 6A | Gemini 8 | Gemini 9A | Gemini 10 | Gemini 11 | Gemini 12

  Results from FactBites:
Gemini Flights (133 words)
The launch was rescheduled for December 15, 1965 and the mission was redesignated as Gemini 6A.
Gemini 7 became the new rendezvous target for Gemini 6A.
The launch was rescheduled for June 3, 1966 and the mission was redesignated as Gemini 9A.
Britain.tv Wikipedia - Gemini 7 (1371 words)
Gemini 7 was originally intended to fly after Gemini 6, but the original Gemini 6 mission was cancelled after the failure during launch of the Agena Target Vehicle it was meant to rendezvous and dock with.
Gemini VII was the longest space flight in U.S. history, until the Skylab missions of the 1970s.
Gemini 6A launched December 15, after a day-long delay due to a malfunction right at the point of ignition.
  More results at FactBites »



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