Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 19

Gemini 9A

USA

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Launch, orbit and landing data

Launch date:  03.06.1966
Launch time:  13:39 UTC
Launch site:  Cape Canaveral
Launch pad:  LC-19
Altitude:  161 - 275 km
Inclination:  28,89°
Landing date:  06.06.1966
Landing time:  14:00 UTC
Landing site:  27° 52' N, 75° 0,4' W

walkout photo

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Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position Flight No. Duration Orbits
1  Stafford  Thomas Patten "Tom"  Command Pilot 2 3d 00h 20m  45 
2  Cernan  Eugene Andrew "Gene"  PLT 1 3d 00h 20m  45 

Crew seating arrangement

1  Stafford
2  Cernan

Backup Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Lovell  James Arthur, Jr. "Shaky"  Command Pilot
2  Aldrin  Edwin Eugene "Buzz"  PLT

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original crew photo

Flight

Launch from Cape Canaveral; landing 500 km east of Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean.

The original prime crew (Elliot See and Charles Bassett) was killed in an T-38 training airplane crash on February 28, 1966, so their backups Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan became the new prime crew. Astronauts James Lovell and Buzz Aldrin became the new backup crew.
On the February 28, 1966, Elliot See and Charles Bassett were flying from Texas to inspect the Gemini 9 spacecraft at the McDonnell Aircraft plant in St. Louis, Missouri. The conditions at Lambert Field were poor and, as a consequence, in attempting a visual approach and landing, Elliot See hit one of the assembly buildings of the factory and caused the aircraft to crash, killing himself and Charles Bassett instantly.

The main goals of this mission were to rendezvous and dock with the Augmented Target Docking Adapter (ATDA) and to conduct extravehicular activities (EVA).

The launches of the ATDA and of Gemini 9A were successful, but the docking with the Augmented Target Docking Adapter ATDA was not achieved because the shroud on the ATDA failed to separate. It looked like an "angry crocodile".
Thomas Stafford had made the first thruster burn 49 minutes after launch, to add 22.7 meters per second (74 ft/s) to their speed, raising their perigee from 160 to 232 kilometers (86 to 125 nmi). An hour and 35 minutes later, Thomas Stafford corrected phase, height, and out-of-plane errors by pointing the spacecraft 40° down, and 3° to the left. Fifty-one seconds later, he fired the thrusters again to add 16.2 meters per second (53 ft/s) to their speed and put them into a 274-by-276-kilometer (148 by 149 nmi) orbit, closing at 38 meters per second (120 ft/s) on the ATDA. The first radar contact with the target registered a distance of 240 kilometers (150 mi) away and they had a solid lock at 222 kilometers (138 mi). Their first visual sighting came 3 hours and 20 minutes into the mission, when they were 93 kilometers (58 mi) away. As they got closer, they found the ATDA to be in a slow rotation, with the conical nose shroud still attached, the two pieces hanging agape at the front like a giant, open jaw.

Eugene Cernan performed an EVA on June 05, 1966 (2h 07m). The objective of this EVA, evaluation of the astronaut maneuvering unit (AMU), was not achieved. The AMU 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. Eugene Cernan began the slow climb to the rear of the spacecraft where his AMU was stored. While he was disconnecting himself from his capsule and hooking up to the backpack his heart rate improved. Every work during the EVA took much longer, than expected and he had could not maintain body position. Eugene Cernan became exhausted and the face plate fogged over - he had to grope and couldn't see anything. After making several connections, Eugene Cernan rested for a few minutes while Mission Control decided whether or not to proceed with the planned test of the AMU. At the end of his EVA he had big problems to return into the capsule and to close the hatch. Thomas Stafford had to help him. Eugene Cernan later was bitterly disappointed that he had been unable to fly the Air Force's maneuvering unit.

The crew also performed several other experiments, so as bioassay of body fluids (the only medical experiment onboard). A micrometeorite collection package (mounted on the ATDA) should had been picked by Eugene Cernan during his EVA. Due of his blindness from the fogging face plate, he only was able to take some photos of this package. Another package was mounted on the Gemini capsule and could be retrieved. Other experiments were the zodiacal light photography and the airglow horizon photography, which were partly successful, but also impaired through Eugene Cernans problems during his spacewalk.

The splashdown, only 3 km far from the recovery ship, the USS Wasp, was broadcast live on TV.

Photos / Drawings


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Last update on November 25, 2014.