Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A birthday shout out to Jim McDivitt

Yet another of the early astronauts reaches his 80th birthday on June 10, as hard as it is to believe. Jim McDivitt, who was the Commander of Gemini IV and Apollo 9 has reached this milestone.

McDivitt was "at the stick" when Ed White took his famous spacewalk on Gemini IV. When I met McDivitt at Spacefest this year, I told him that I always thought it unfair that he didn't get EVA credit. At the same time that White was outside the capsule, the door was open and McDivitt was exposed to hard vacuum just as much as White was - he just wasn't standing up in his seat or leaving the confines of the ship. Nowadays, on Space Shuttle and Space Station missions, the start of an EVA is counted from the time when the hatch is opened, even before the astronauts have ventured outside. By that definition, in my humble opinion, McDivitt could have gotten EVA credit both for Gemini IV and Apollo 9! He said he agreed with me but it wasn't worth arguing with anyone about!

McDivitt had the most infectious laugh of anyone I have met. Even though he didn't know me from Adam, he pulled me right away into some hilarious stories about NASA in the good ol' days and some of the characters that he used to work with. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with him over the weekend at Spacefest!

Happy birthday, General, and many many more --

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