Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gemini XII anniversary

Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the launch of Gemini XII, the last mission of the Gemini program, carrying Command Pilot Jim Lovell and Pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin. By now, we had repeatedly demonstrated the rendezvous and docking techniques that would be critical to the lunar missions of Apollo, but EVA was still proving much more difficult than anticipated.

Gene Cernan, Mike Collins, and Dick Gordon had substantial problems in their spacewalks on Geminis IX, X, and XI. Having rehearsed in a neutral buoyancy tank, and with the addition of handholds and foot restraints on the vehicle, Aldrin almost made spacewalking look easy. This mission paved the way for the EVAs on Apollos 15-17, in which the CMP retrieved film from the SIM bays on the side of the Service Module. It also pioneered the techniques that would be necessary for the EVAs from the Space Shuttle and the assembly of the International Space Station.

The Martin Co. badge in this photo gave its wearer access to a test of the Gemini XII launch vehicle. It also grants the wearer the permission to keep the badge as a souvenir afterward!

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