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Encyclopedia > Gemini 9A
Gemini 9A
Mission insignia
Mission statistics
Mission name: Gemini 9A
Call sign: Gemini 9A
Number of crew members: 2
Launch pad: Cape Canaveral
Launch: June 3, 1966
13:39:33.335 UTC
LC 19
Landing: June 6, 1966
14:00:23 UTC
27°52′N 75°0.4′W
Duration: 3 days, 0 hours
20 minutes
50 seconds
Number of Orbits: 47
Apogee: 266.9 km (1st orbit)
Perigee: 158.8 km( 1st orbit)
Period: 88.78 min (1st orbit)
Orbit inclination: 28.91°
Mass: 3,750 kg
Crew photo
L-R: Stafford, Cernan
L-R: Stafford, Cernan
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Gemini 9A (officially Gemini IX-A) was a 1966 manned spaceflight in NASA's Gemini program. It was the 7th manned Gemini flight, the 13th manned American flight and the 23rd spaceflight of all time (includes X-15 flights over 100 km). Image File history File links Ge09Patch_orig. ... 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. ... June 3 is the 154th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (155th in leap years), with 211 days remaining. ... 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1966 calendar). ... Coordinated Universal Time (UTC - see below for explanation) is a high-precision atomic time standard. ... The launch of Gemini 6A from LC-19. ... June 6 is the 157th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (158th in leap years), with 208 days remaining // 1508 - Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, is defeated in Friulia by Venetian forces; he is forced to sign a three-year truce and cede several territories to Venice 1513... 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1966 calendar). ... A diagram of Keplerian orbital elements. ... A diagram of Keplerian orbital elements. ... The orbital period is the time it takes a planet (or another object) to make one full orbit. ... Inclination in general is the angle between a reference plane and another plane or axis of direction. ... Gemini 9A crew: Stafford, Cernan. ... Gemini 8 (officially Gemini VIII) was a 1966 manned spaceflight in NASAs Gemini program. ... Gemini 10 (officially Gemini X) was a 1966 manned spaceflight in NASAs Gemini program. ... The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an agency of the United States Government, responsible for that nations public space program. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... Project Gemini was the second human spaceflight program of the United States of America. ... Description Role: Research Aircraft Crew: one, pilot Dimensions Length: 50. ...

Contents

Crew

*Number in parentheses indicates number of spaceflights by each individual, prior to and including this mission. Thomas P. Stafford (born September 17, 1930) is an American astronaut and Air Force general. ... Eugene Cernan Gene in LM after EVA-3 Eugene Andrew Cernan (born March 14, 1934, in Chicago, Illinois) is a former United States astronaut. ...


Backup crew

James Arthur Lovell, Jr. ... Colonel Buzz Eugene Aldrin, Sc. ...

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. ...

1st rendezvous

June 3 is the 154th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (155th in leap years), with 211 days remaining. ... 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1966 calendar). ...

Space walk

  • Cernan

June 5 is the 156th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (157th in leap years), with 209 days remaining. ... 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1966 calendar). ... June 5 is the 156th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (157th in leap years), with 209 days remaining. ... 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1966 calendar). ...

See also

Gemini 9 original prime crew (front row, L-R) Elliott See, Charles Bassett; and backup crew (back row, L-R) Tom Stafford, Gene Cernan (NASA)
Gemini 9 original prime crew (front row, L-R)
Elliott See, Charles Bassett; and backup crew
(back row, L-R) Tom Stafford, Gene Cernan (NASA)

Stafford and Cernan became the first backup crew to fly in space since Malcolm Scott Carpenter replaced D.K. Slayton on MA-7 due to the original prime crew for Gemini IX, Elliott See (Command Pilot) and Charles Bassett (Pilot), dying four months before the mission. See and Bassett were both killed when their plane crashed into a McDonnell aircraft hangar in St. Louis on February 28, 1966. Ironically, the hangar was the very building where the Gemini IX spacecraft was being built. The backup crew of Stafford and Cernan was promoted to the prime crew, while a new backup crew was created from the crew originally assigned to backup Gemini X. This latter fact is significant as the standard crew rotation meant that a spot on the backup crew of Gemini X would have placed Buzz Aldrin on the prime crew of the non-existent Gemini XIII. (The crew rotation usually meant that after serving on a backup crew, you could expect to skip two missions and then be on a prime crew.) Being moved up to the backup crew of Gemini IX meant that Aldrin flew prime crew on Gemini XII and played a major part in his selection for the Apollo 8 backup and Apollo 11 prime crews - a crew place which ultimately made him the second man on the moon. An Atlas launch vehicle launches GATV-5006 into orbit for the Gemini 11 mission. ... Astronaut Bruce McCandless on an untethered EVA Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) is work done by an astronaut away from the Earth and outside of his or her spacecraft. ... Related article Mir extra-vehicular activity (just an excerpt from the table above) List of ISS spacewalks (just an excerpt from the table above) External link NASA JSC Oral History Project: See link near page end to Walking to Olympus: An EVA Chronology PDF document. ... Atlantic splashdown locations of American spacecraft. ... Gemini 9 prime and backup crew (NASA) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Gemini 9 prime and backup crew (NASA) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Elliott See Elliott McKay See, Jr. ... Astronaut Charles Bassett NAME: Charles A. Bassett , II (Captain, USAF) NASA Astronaut (Deceased) // Personal data Bassett was born in Dayton, Ohio, on December 30, 1931, and died February 28, 1966, in St. ... The McDonnell Aircraft Corporation was an American aerospace manufacturer, based near 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. ... February 28 is the 59th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1966 calendar). ... Gemini 10 (officially Gemini X) was a 1966 manned spaceflight in NASAs Gemini program. ... Gemini 10 (officially Gemini X) was a 1966 manned spaceflight in NASAs Gemini program. ... Gemini 12 (officially Gemini XII) was a 1966 manned spaceflight in NASAs Gemini program. ... Apollo 8 was the second manned mission of the Apollo space program, in which Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders became the first humans to orbit around the Moon. ... Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to land on the Moon. ...


Objectives

Gemini 9A launch from LC-19 (NASA)
Gemini 9A launch from LC-19 (NASA)

One of the mission objectives was to dock with an Agena Target Vehicle in the same manner as the Gemini 8 mission. However, during the launch of the Gemini 9 Agena on May 17, 1966, its Atlas booster malfunctioned like it had on Gemini 6A, and it failed to make it to orbit. Download high resolution version (761x900, 177 KB)Gemini 9A launch (NASA) http://www. ... Download high resolution version (761x900, 177 KB)Gemini 9A launch (NASA) http://www. ... An Atlas launch vehicle launches GATV-5006 into orbit for the Gemini 11 mission. ... Gemini 8 (officially Gemini VIII) was a 1966 manned spaceflight in NASAs Gemini program. ... Mercury Atlas 9 rocket and capsule on pad The Atlas is a venerable line of space launch vehicles built by Lockheed Martin. ... Gemini 6A (officially Gemini VI-A) was a 1965 manned spaceflight in NASAs Gemini program. ...


On June 1, 1966 a substitute for the Agena was launched in the form of the ATDA (Augmented Target Docking Adapter), designed and built by McDonnell (the manufacturers of the Gemini spacecraft). Basically the ATDA is the forward docking section of an Agena without the rear fuel tank and rocket engine. It was built using already tested equipment and launched using the Atlas-SLV3 rocket. The docking was canceled, though, after Stafford and Cernan rendezvoused with the target to find its protective shroud still attached over the docking port, which made it look, in Stafford's words, like an "angry alligator." The McDonnell Aircraft Corporation was an American aerospace manufacturer, based near St. ...


As well as the docking there was also a planned EVA by Cernan. The plan was for him to move to the rear of the spacecraft and strap himself into the Air Force's Astronaut Maneuvering Unit (AMU). This was the first 'rocket pack' and a predecessor of the Manned Maneuvering Unit used by Shuttle astronauts in the 1980s. It had its own propulsion, stabilization system, oxygen and telemetry for the biomedical data and systems. It used hydrogen peroxide for propellant, and because it produced extremely hot gases, Cernan's spacesuit was modified with "pants" made of woven steel known as "Chromel-R," which was later used on the gloves and moon walking boots on Apollo spacesuits. (The current MMU uses nitrogen gas, which remains cold when vented.) Aircraft of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing and coalition counterparts stationed together at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, in southwest Asia, fly over the desert. ... U.S. astronaut Bruce McCandless uses a manned maneuvering unit A Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) is a rocket pack (propulsion backpack that snaps onto the back of the spacesuit) which has been used on spacewalks (EVAs) from NASAs space shuttle, allowing an astronaut to move independently from the shuttle. ... The 1980s refers to the years of 1980 to 1989. ... General Name, Symbol, Number oxygen, O, 8 Chemical series Nonmetals, chalcogens Group, Period, Block 16, 2, p Appearance colorless (gas) very pale blue (liquid) Atomic mass 15. ... Telemetry is a technology that allows the remote measurement and reporting of information of interest to the system designer or operator. ... Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a very pale blue liquid which appears colourless in a dilute solution, slightly more viscous than water. ... A propellant is a material that is used to move an object by applying a motive force. ...


However, Cernan's space­walk was troubled from the start. His visor fogged, he sweated profusely and struggled with his tasks, and he had problems moving in microgravity. Everything took longer than expected, and Cernan had to go inside before getting a chance to fly the AMU. The device was not finally tested in space until a modified version called the Manned Manoevering Unit (MMU) was flown by astronaut Bruce McCandless on Shuttle Mission STS 41B in 1984 18 years later. The AMU never flew on Gemini as Cernan's experience tempered these demands. It was an Air Force Project. In retrospect it is a bit surprising that considering the consummate detail that was employed in the design of spacecraft and mission planning that (a) such an ambitious mission would be planned as only the second US space walk and (b) so little attention was paid to handholds and astronaut positioning.


Aside from the lack of handholds, the Gemini spacesuit was cooled by air. When an astronaut had an increased work load he began to sweat and in the confined space of a suit the cooling system would become overwhelmed and the visor would fog. The astronaut would then be effectively blind because he had no way of wiping off the faceplate. In future work the work loads of the astronauts was reduced, but it was clear that during lunar exploration workloads could be significant and changes were made to ensure that the Apollo EVA suit would be water cooled. This was accomplished by having the astronaut wear a garment that contained many thin tubes that circulated water near the skin. It was very effective and there were very few cases where astronauts used the "High" Cooling selection even though they were working hard and on the moon in a 100C sun.


Flight

Launch attempts

Gemini 9 Agena & ATDA
Agena GATV-5004
Mass 3,252 kg
Launch site LC-14
Launch date May 17, 1966
Launch time 15:12 UTC
Destroyed 15:19 UTC
ATDA #02186
NSSDC ID: 1966-046A
Mass 794 kg
Launch site LC-14
Launch date June 1, 1966
Launch time 15:00:02 UTC
1st perigee 298.4 km
1st apogee 309.7 km
Period 90.5 min
Inclination 28.87
Reentered June 11, 1966

The first launch attempt of Gemini 9A was on June 1. The ATDA had launched perfectly into a 298 kilometre orbit, though telemetry from it indicated that the launch shroud had failed to open properly. But the Gemini spacecraft was not able to launch the same day as planned. At T-3 minutes, the ground computers could not contact the Gemini computers for some reason and the 40 second launch window opened and closed without the launch. June 1 is the 152nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (153rd in leap years), with 213 days remaining. ... Launch window is a term used in aerospace to describe a time period in which a particular rocket must be launched. ...


The second launch attempt went perfectly with the spacecraft entering into orbit. With this launch, Stafford could say that he had been strapped into a spacecraft six times ready for launch.


Rendezvous

Their first burn was 49 minutes after launch. They added 22.7 metres per second to their speed which put them in a 160 to 232 kilometres orbit. Their next burn was designed to correct phase, height, and out-of-plane errors. They pointed the spacecraft 40° down, and 3° to the 'left'. The burn added 16.2 metres per second to their speed and put them in a 274 by 276 kilometres orbit, closing at 38 metres per second on the ATDA.


The first radar readings were when they were 240 km away and they had a solid lock at 222 km. Their first sight came 3 hours and 20 minutes into the mission when they were 93 km way. They noted that they could see the flashing lights on the ATDA designed to aid identification from a distance. This made them hope that the launch shroud had in fact been jettisoned and that the telemetry was wrong.


As they got closer they found that in fact the shroud had half come off. Stafford described "It looks like an angry alligator out here rotating around". He asked if maybe he could use the spacecraft to open the 'jaws' but the ground decided against it.

ATDA as seen from Gemini 9
ATDA as seen from Gemini 9

The crew described that the shrouds explosive bolts had fired but the too neatly taped lanyards were holding the shroud together. It was decided that it would be too dangerous for an astronaut to cut the lines, as there were too many sharp edges around. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1584x1958, 238 KB) The Augmented Target Docking Adapter as seen by the crew of Gemini 9A. The launch shroud failed to jettison properly resulting in it appearing (as the astronauts described it) like an angry alligator. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1584x1958, 238 KB) The Augmented Target Docking Adapter as seen by the crew of Gemini 9A. The launch shroud failed to jettison properly resulting in it appearing (as the astronauts described it) like an angry alligator. ... An explosive bolt is a fastener that incorporates a pyrotechnic charge that can be initiated by an electrical command. ... A lanyard (sword knot) fixed to an infantry sword handle A lanyard, also spelled laniard, is a rope or cord often worn around the neck or wrist to carry something. ...


The reason for the lanyards was soon discovered. Douglas built the shroud, but Lockheed attached it to the rocket, while McDonnell built the ATDA. A Douglas engineer had made a practice run with the McDonnell crew but didn't give them instructions on the final procedures which involved the lanyards. The McDonnell crew had the Douglas instructions for this procedure which said, "See blueprint", but there was no blueprint. So the McDonnell technicians decided to tape down the loose lanyards as it seemed like the sensible thing to do.


The crew then did some planned rendezvous practice that involved them moving away from the ATDA by firing their thrusters and then practising approaching from below the target. They then got some much needed food and rest.


On the second day of the mission, they again approached the ATDA, this time from above. Once they were stationkeeping along side, they were given permission for their EVA. But they were tired and Stafford didn't want to waste fuel keeping himself near the ATDA during the EVA when there was little they could do with it. So it was decided to postpone the EVA until the third day.


EVA

On this third He finally reached the rear of the spacecraft and began to check and prepare the AMU. This took longer than planned due to lack of hand and foot holds. He was unable to gain any leverage which made it hard to turn valves or basically any movement. All this was made worse when after sunset, his faceplate fogged up. His pulse soared to about 195 beats per minute. The flight surgeon on the ground feared he would lose conciousness.


At this point Cernan decided that there was a lot of risk in continuing the EVA. He had poor visibility from within his spacesuit and had found that he could not move very well. He would have to disconnect himself from the umbilical that attached him to the Gemini (though would still be attached by a longer thinner lead), after he had connected himself to the AMU. But when he had finished with the AMU he would somehow have to take the thing off with one hand, while the other held onto the spacecraft. He decided to cancel the rest of the EVA, with Tom Stafford and the Mission Controllers concurring.


He managed to move himself back to the cockpit and Stafford held onto his legs to give him a rest. After trying to remove a mirror mounted to the side of the spacecraft, his suit cooling system overheated and his faceplate fogged up completely, denying him any vision. He and Stafford managed to get the hatch closed and repressurised. Cernan had spent 128 minutes outside the spacecraft.


Stafford has said in a 2001 interview that there was a real concern that Cernan would not be able to get back into the capsule. As it would not have been acceptable for Stafford to cut Cernan loose in orbit he stated that the plan was to make re-entry with the astronaut still attached by his umbilical.


As well as the rendezvous and EVA, the other major objective of the mission was to carry out seven experiments. The only medical experiment was M-5, which measured the astronauts reactions to stress by measuring the intake and output of fluids before, during and after the flight.


Experiments

There were two photography experiments. S-1 hoped to image the Zodiacal light during an EVA, but this was changed to inside the spacecraft after the problems encountered by Cernan. And S-11 involved the astronauts trying to image the Earth's airglow in the atomic oxygen and sodium light spectra. They took 44 pictures as part of this experiment with three being of actual airglow. The zodiacal light in the eastern sky before the beginning of morning twilight. ...


S-10 had hoped to retrieve a Micrometeorite Collector from the ATDA, though this failed after they were unable to dock with it. They were able to image it though during their close approaches. Instead they were able to recover the collector from the Gemini spacecraft (S-12). D-12 also failed as it was an investigation of controlling the AMU.


The last experiment was D-14 which was UHF/VHF Polarization. This was an extendable antenna mounted on the adapter section at the rear of the spacecraft. It was hoped to obtain information about communication through the ionosphere. Six trials of this were performed but the antenna was broken by Cernan during his EVA.


Reentry

Gemini 9A spashes down at 9:00 A.M., June 6, 1966.
Gemini 9A spashes down at 9:00 A.M., June 6, 1966.

The day of the EVA was also their last in space. On their 45th revolution of the Earth, they fired the retrofire rockets that slowed them down so that they would reenter. This time the computer worked perfectly, meaning they landed only 700 metres from the planned landing site and were close enough to see the prime recovery ship, the USS Wasp. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (502x640, 439 KB)http://dayton. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (502x640, 439 KB)http://dayton. ... The ninth USS Wasp (CV-18) of the United States Navy was an Essex-class aircraft carrier. ...


After the mission it was decided to set up a Mission Review committee. Their job was to make sure that the objectives planned for each mission were realistic and that they had a direct benefit for Apollo.


The Gemini 9A mission was supported by the following U.S. Department of Defense resources: 11,301 personnel, 92 aircraft and 15 ships.


Insignia

The Gemini 9 patch is quite simple. It is in the shape of a shield and shows the Gemini spacecraft docked to the Agena. There is a spacewalking astronaut, with his tether forming the shape of a number 9. Although the Gemini 9 mission was changed so that it docked with the ATDA, the patch was not changed. It is also not known whether Bassett and See had designed a patch for the mission as the original crew.


Capsule location

Gemini 9A spacecraft on display at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
Gemini 9A spacecraft on display at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

The capsule is on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center, Florida. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (1024x768, 126 KB) Gemini 9A spacecraft on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center, Florida, October 13, 2006. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (1024x768, 126 KB) Gemini 9A spacecraft on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center, Florida, October 13, 2006. ... Merritt Island and Kennedy Space Center The John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is the NASA space vehicle launch facility (spaceport) at Cape Canaveral on Merritt Island in Florida, United States. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Merritt Island and Kennedy Space Center The John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is the NASA space vehicle launch facility (spaceport) at Cape Canaveral on Merritt Island in Florida, United States. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


External links

  • On The Shoulders of Titans: A History of Project Gemini: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4203/cover.htm
  • Spaceflight Mission Patches: http://www.genedorr.com/patches/Intro.html
  • Buy the AMU trainer: http://www.collectspace.com/buyspace/artifacts-gemini.html
  • http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/database/MasterCatalog?sc=1966-047A
  • U.S. Space Objects Registry http://usspaceobjectsregistry.state.gov/search/index.cfm

 

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

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