Gemini 11

Gemini 11 (GT -11 ) was a manned space flight within the U.S. Gemini program.


Two days after the landing of Gemini 8 on March 19, 1966 it was announced by NASA that the backup crew of this flight would take the next available mission Gemini 11.

As commander was Charles " Pete " Conrad, who has worked with Gemini 5 in space available. Pilot was Richard Gordon with his first race in space. The backup crew consisted of Neil Armstrong, commander of Gemini 8 and William Anders, who still had no experience in space. When connecting speakers ( Capcom ) during the starting phase was from Clifton Williams of Cape Kennedy, and John Young and Alan Bean of Houston. Young had already completed two Gemini flights. Williams and Bean had itself not yet any experience in space, however, were already several times been Capcom. Overall, the team was so very experienced.


As Gemini 10 spacecraft should this connect to an Agena target vehicle and can be transported by the engine into a higher orbit. Pete Conrad was a strong supporter of this plan, although there were also votes against the dangers arising from the radiation of the Van Allen Belt feared. Similarly, emphasis was again on a spacewalk (EVA ) set. Improvements for Gemini 11 was developed from the experiences of Eugene Cernan and Mike Collins with Gemini 9 and Gemini 10. On one hand, the safety line of 15 meters was reduced to 9 meters, on the other hand, more handles and footrests were attached to the Gemini spacecraft and the Agena, so Richard Gordon should have better grip while working.

On 7 July 1966, the Gemini spacecraft was delivered to Cape Kennedy on July 22, the Titan rocket assembled on launch pad, and on 28 July assembled the spacecraft. The launch was first scheduled for September 9, but was postponed when a leak was discovered during fueling of the rocket. Even on the following day did not start. Conrad and Gordon were already on the way to the launch pad, when they learned that the Agena due to a problem with the autopilot could not start, and therefore also delayed the Gemini launch.

History of the flight

On September 12, 1966 launched an Atlas - Agena rocket and brought the target satellite GATV -11 (Gemini Agena Target Vehicle) into orbit.

Gemini 11 should be exactly start an orbit later. The launch window was only two seconds. Scheduled raised the Titan rocket at 9:42 local time from clock. 85 minutes later, much earlier than in previous Gemini flights, Conrad coupled to the Agena.

Because much less fuel was consumed than anticipated, valuable experience with couplings could be obtained in orbit. Each of the two astronauts decoupled twice and docked back to the satellite. The next task was to Gordon's spacewalk. As with previous flights, the work in the space suit was very difficult and tiring. He started sweating, his helmet studded and so his trip had to be cut into space.

The engines of the Agena were detonated 26 seconds long, and brought Gemini 11 to a higher orbit with an apogee of 1374 km. In order for the just two months old altitude record of Gemini 10 was broken. The new brand should remain in place until the moon flight of Apollo 8.

Gordon undertook a further addition to board activity. This time, however, he left the space ship is not complete, but remained in the open hatch stand ( stand-up EVA) to photograph the Earth and stars. During a lull both Gordon and Conrad nodded a, the first astronauts sleep in a vacuum. EVA this took about two hours and was on the physical exertion forth significantly better than the first.

Conrad and Gordon took yet another flight maneuvers, which had been hitherto never been performed. To this end, they decoupled from the Agena stage, but remained connected with it by an approximately 30 -meter safety belt. Certain control maneuver succeeded astronauts to rotate the team around the common center of gravity, which for the first time an artificial gravity was generated in space. The missile took about six minutes per revolution, the microgravity produced was too small to be felt by the astronauts, however, ranged from to move floating objects.

Later Gemini 11 completely separated from GATV -11, took off at about 30 km and approached again the following day, however, without being coupled again.

The firing of the braking rockets and re-entry into Earth's atmosphere was on this flight for the first time fully automatically. Gemini 11 ended 4.6 km away from the calculated target point. Conrad and Gordon were taken by helicopter aboard the USS Guam.

Importance for the Gemini Project

The mission was a complete success. The Rendezvous and the coupling were completed in record time. It was valuable experience with rendezvous maneuvers and coupling are obtained. The web changes using the Agena passed without problems, and the higher orbit brought not only a new record, but also new scientific data. The biggest problem was still the activity outside the spaceship. Gordon problems only confirmed the experiences that have been made ​​Cernan and Collins: even simple handles can be in zero gravity to the problem. The space suit and life support system seemed to be not yet mature and moon fit.

The Gemini program was nearing its end. One last flight two months later this Space project should bring to a conclusion.