Gemini 8 (GT -8 ) was a manned space flight within the U.S. Gemini program.
On September 20, 1965, just after the landing of Gemini 5, NASA announced the crew for the flight Gemini 8. The replacement commander of Gemini 5, Neil Armstrong was as expected given command for the next available space flight. He also became the first U.S. civilian in space, the astronauts were all former members of the U.S. armed forces.
As a pilot of Gemini 8 was not as expected, the replacement pilot of Gemini 5, Elliott Lake, divided. Instead, David Scott was preferred, which for the first time an astronaut was the third choice group to a space environment.
As a replacement team were Charles Conrad, who was already with Gemini 5 in space, and Richard Gordon divided.
The mission profile of Gemini 8 saw pairing before a Agena target vehicle, as it was already planned for Gemini 6. At that time, however, struck in October 1965 failed satellite launch, which is why this docking was moved to Gemini 8.
In addition, it was planned that David Scott leave the spaceship and an outdoor activity (EVA ) should perform. In contrast to the relatively brief departure of Ed White on Gemini 4 EVA should last about 90 minutes, so also take place on the night side of the earth. Furthermore, should be conducted ten scientific experiments.
On 8 January 1966, the Gemini spacecraft arrived at Cape Kennedy, on 13 January, the Titan rocket was erected on the launch pad, the spacecraft was assembled on 31 January on the launcher.
History of the flight
On March 16, the target satellite was successfully launched an Atlas - Agena rocket. A mission in orbit (about 100 minutes) later, Gemini 8 astronauts Armstrong and Scott. The astronauts were able to locate the Agena from 330 km distance by radar and from 140 km distance visually, after they had their first apogee, perigee and then adapted their last their orbital plane of the orbit of the Agena. After about six hours of flight the spaceship had caught up with the satellite, shortly afterwards, and after an inspection Gemini 8 docked to. This was the first coupling of two spacecraft in orbit.
The engines of the Agena were able to be operated remotely from both the ground station as well as from the Gemini spacecraft, and it was planned to test the mechanical load of the vehicle combination. After a change in the situation, however, the Gemini - Agena combination could not be stabilized, she started getting faster to rotate. The astronauts suspected the problem with the Agena and broke away from the satellite after it had its control passed back to the ground station. Without the mass of the Agena but the movements were only stronger and reached almost beyond the carrying capacity of spacecraft and astronauts - at an ever -faster rotation unconsciousness of the crew was not excluded.
At a rotation rate of one revolution per second and Scott Armstrong tried to stabilize the spacecraft, which, however only achieved after used, the re-entry position control system in place of the orbital attitude control system. Shortly afterwards, the problem could be identified as: a nozzle of the orbital attitude control system had jammed and fired continuously.
By this maneuver the Gemini 8 had now consumes so much fuel that was not to think of a continuation of the mission. At the next opportunity to return to Earth was initiated. As it was already night over the Atlantic Ocean, the landing capsule in the Pacific went down. This space flight lasted just under 11 hours.
Shortly after the splashdown Gemini 8 was reached by a rescue helicopter that was launched from Okinawa. Divers secured the landing capsule until after the first three hours, the destroyer USS Leonard F. Mason Gemini 8 and was able to take the exhausted astronauts on board.
Importance for the Gemini program
On the one hand, this was the first successful coupling of two spacecraft (the first time that the Americans against the Soviet Union had a head start ), on the other hand also the first space flight, which had to be canceled due to an emergency situation.
The problem with the steering jammed occurred during an unfavorable time point, as many important people were not reachable by chance. Some NASA managers were at a banquet, while the experts of the spacecraft manufacturer McDonnell were located just on the flight from Cape Kennedy to Houston to pursue by the local control center Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center on the flight. For more spaceflight was ensured that important people were not all the same way and that McDonnell employees were available during the flight at any time in the control center in Houston.
The Agena satellite remained in orbit, has been remotely moved into a different orbit and should serve as a target for another rendezvous.