Edward Higgins White

Apollo 1 (1967 )

Edward Higgins " Ed " White, II ( born November 14, 1930 in San Antonio, Texas, † January 27, 1967 in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida) was, according to Alexei Leonov the second man and the first U.S. astronaut the free- floating in space.


Through his father, who was a West Point graduate and pilot in the U.S. Air Force, Ed White came very early into contact with aircraft. At the age of twelve, his father took him to a T-6 training machine and allowed him during the flight to take the helm. This experience forgot Ed White no longer his life.

Since his father was a highly decorated career officer, Ed White learned many different military bases around the country know. But when he is in high school of his choice in Washington, DC wanted to enroll, the absence of a permanent residence turned out to be an obstacle. But he managed to graduate from school and was able, after several advocates found, like his father go to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

In West Point White is involved not only in his academic studies. He was an outstanding hurdler and broke the West Point record on the 400 -meter hurdle route. A nomination for the 1952 Olympic Games he just missed. Even in football team, he was a defender size.

During a sports tournament, he met Patricia Eileen Finegan know, who became his wife shortly thereafter.

In 1957, Ed White read a newspaper article in which the future of the generation of astronauts was talk. This was the triggering moment, who stopped him to control his career in that direction.

After three and a half years, the White family returned, now with two children ( Edward and Bonnie Lynn ), back from Germany to the USA. To stand out a little from the other applicants for the astronaut job, White studied at the University of Michigan. In 1959, he earned his master's degree there as an aerospace engineer.

From the Air Force to NASA

After the seven Mercury astronauts were introduced to the public, it was White realized that there was a requirement to work as an Air Force test pilot. He immediately enrolled at Edwards Air Force Base for test pilot training, which he completed in 1959. He then worked at Wright - Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. He tested the latest weapons systems, wrote technical manuals and helped in the development of the aircraft industry.

Ed White also had the honor to fly the aircraft with which the Mercury astronauts were prepared to weightlessness in space. There he met John Glenn and Deke Slayton know. But he also flew Ham and Enos, the two chimpanzees who would later start before the astronauts with the Mercury.

As the Gemini program was in the startup phase, NASA wrote in April 1962, the application of conditions for a second astronaut group. Ed White applied and was accepted.

The training for the Gemini program was in contrast to the Mercury Education tightened considerably. There were no longer mere passengers of the capsules in demand. The Gemini spacecraft had to be controlled and coupled to other spacecraft, continue spacewalks were planned. In addition to the budding astronauts with much more launchers had to familiarize since even the follow-up project, the Apollo program was in the planning stage. So one after another were the single factory and assembly facilities, as well as visited the launch pads for the Titan, Atlas, Agena, and Saturn rockets. In addition, scientific training were on the program, as had to be carried out research during space flights.

After completion of the training, each astronaut had to specialize in a particular area. Ed White the field of flight control systems has been assigned what he could only be good as enthusiastic test pilots. One of its most important innovations was bringing all the manual controls in the entire Gemini and Apollo system.

Gemini 4

Together with his longtime friend James McDivitt Ed White was divided for the Gemini 4 flight. Your flight should be the first long-duration flight of an American crew, should be performed on the thirteen scientific experiments. In March 1965 the flight plan were then added two more components. McDivitt should always keep as a pilot the spaceship at the same distance from the second Titan rocket stage in orbit and Ed White was chosen, a spacewalk (EVA ) to perform. White should get for his EVA a new space suit and a control unit, which he could hold in his hand. Both were still in development, as the flight schedule for Gemini 4 was announced. Only a week before the start of published NASA Whites exit.

On June 3, 1965 Gemini 4 starts from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Shortly after reaching the Earth's orbit was clear that McDivitt the spacecraft was unable to keep the required distance to Titan rocket stage, as this was very strongly advised reeling and also did not fly exactly on the orbit coordinates of Gemini 4. So the crew fully focused on Whites EVA.

While there was the space ship on the third orbit about Hawaii, Ed White opened the hatch and moved into the open space beyond. With his hand controller he could move in space relatively easily. He photographed with his 35 mm camera, the earth and the spaceship from which McDivitt took pictures of him. After more than twenty minutes outside of the spaceship Ed White got back in the spaceship.

After a total of 62 orbits the Gemini -4 landing spacecraft landed in the Atlantic.

President Lyndon B. Johnson promoted after this successful mission, both astronauts to the rank of lieutenant colonel. In Chicago, there was a ticker-tape parade in their honor.

Gemini 7

Shortly after the end of the Gemini 4 flight, on 1 July 1965 White was nominated as a replacement commander of long-term flight Gemini 7. The flight was conducted in December 1965, without that White was used.

AS -204 (Apollo 1)

Ed White's success on the Gemini flight prompted NASA to choose him for Apollo 1.

The Apollo spacecraft was but not nearly as mature as the Gemini predecessor, so that the engineers and astronauts under high pressure at the completion of the first Apollo spacecraft (S / C 012) worked. When Apollo -Saturn 204 (AS 204), the mission in the spring of 1967 was to take place.

A crucial test took place on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral on 27 January 1967. The entire crew, including Virgil Grissom, Roger B. Chaffee and Edward H. White participated in the command module space to perform a plugs -out test. During the test, but began (probably due to a short circuit or arc ) the interior of the capsule fire. All three astronauts were killed.

White has been buried in the cemetery of the United States Military Academy (West Point) with a state funeral.

Special features and Records

  • First American spacewalk (Gemini 4)
  • Together with Virgil Grissom and Roger Chaffee first casualties in a spacecraft (Apollo 1)