Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 18

Gemini 8



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Launch, orbit and landing data

Launch date:  16.03.1966
Launch time:  16:41 UTC
Launch site:  Cape Canaveral
Launch pad:  LC-19
Altitude:  156 - 265 km
Inclination:  28.91°
Landing date:  17.03.1966
Landing time:  03:22 UTC
Landing site:  25° 13.8' N, 136° 0' E

walkout photo

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alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo


No.   Surname Given names Position Flight No. Duration Orbits
1  Armstrong  Neil Alden  Command Pilot 1 10h 41m  6,5 
2  Scott  David Randolph  PLT 1 10h 41m  6,5 

Crew seating arrangement

1  Armstrong
2  Scott

Backup Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Conrad  Charles, Jr. "Pete"  Command Pilot
2  Gordon  Richard Francis, Jr. "Dick"  PLT

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alternate crew photo


Launch from Cape Canaveral; landing 800 km southeast of Okinawa in the Pacific Ocean.

The main goals of this mission were, to accomplish a rendezvous and the first docking with the prelaunched Agena Target Vehicle (GATV 8) and to perform again a spacewalk.

The Agena blasted off into a 298-kilometer circular orbit and oriented itself to the correct attitude for the docking. The Gemini spacecraft itself was launched into a 160 by 272 kilometer orbit by a modified Titan II on March 16, 1966.

Their first course adjustment was made at one hour and 34 minutes into the mission, when the astronauts lowered their apogee slightly with a 5 second Orbit Attitude and Maneuvering System (OAMS) thruster burn. The second adjustment was made near apogee of the second orbit, and raised both apogee and perigee by adding 49 feet per second (15 m/s) to their speed. The third adjustment was made over the Pacific Ocean, a southward orbital plane change, made with a 59 feet per second (18 m/s) sideways thruster burn. After several small burns they were 151 feet (46 m) away and with no relative velocity. After 30 minutes of visually inspecting the Agena to make sure that it had not been damaged by the launch, they were given the go for docking.

The first orbital docking was accomplished without any problems, but then the Gemini capsule with the docked GATV 8 began rolling uncontrolled and continuously because of problems with the spacecraft control system (thrusters sticking probably of an electrical short). That problem was never faced in a simulation, so the crew was forced to undock, but the problems continued and were serious. After separation, loosing the mass of the Agena, the Gemini spacecraft began to roll even faster. It reached one revolution per second. The only thing to do was turn off the OAMS and switch to the reentry control system, which prompted in an early landing only one orbit later. Meanwhile Neil Armstrong had reported that the OAMS fuel had dropped to 30%. So the planned EVA was not performed. Neil Armstrongs calm headedness and his ability to recover from an extremely dangerous space emergency saved the crew.

Mission control decided to let the spacecraft reenter one orbit later so that it could land in a place and by daylight that could be reached by the secondary recovery forces. The original plan was for Gemini 8 to land in the Atlantic, but that was supposed to be three days later. A possible landing in the Atlantic Ocean hat the same orbit would have resulted a night landing. So USS Leonard F. Mason started to steam towards the new landing site 800 kilometers east of Okinawa and 1.000 kilometers south of Yokosuka, Japan.

The crew was recovered by the USS Leonard F. Mason. Three hours after landing the Mason had the spacecraft on board.

Photos / Drawings


Last update on November 25, 2014.