The rotation rate checked out at 55 degrees per minute, and the crew could now test for a minute amount of artificial gravity. When they put a camera against the instrument panel and then let it go, it moved in a straight line to the rear of the cockpit and parallel to the direction of the tether. The crew, themselves, did not sense any physiological effect of gravity.
Conrad shouted to Gordon “Ride ’em, cowboy!” Gordon was Riding bareback, with his feet and legs wedged between the docked vehicles. In practice sessions in zero-g aircraft flights, Gordon had been able to push himself forward, straddle the reentry and recovery section, and wedge his feet and legs between the docking adapter and the spacecraft to hold himself in place, leaving his hands free to attach the tether and clamp it down…
Some significant goals had been set for the last two Gemini flights. For example, the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office wanted a rendezvous in the first spacecraft orbit, which would simulate lunar orbit rendezvous. There was also interest in linking an Agena to a the Gemini spacecraft by a tether and then spinning the combination to produce some artificial gravity.
Collins emerged from the spacecraft at dawn. Like Gene Cernan on Gemini IX-A, he found that all tasks took longer than he expected. But he was able to retrieve the package from the exterior of his spacecraft…
“At first, the sensation I got was that there was a pop, then there was a big explosion and a clang. We were thrown forward in the seats. We had our shoulder harnesses fastened. Fire and sparks started coming out of the back end of that rascal. The light was something fierce, and the acceleration was pretty good. The vehicle yawed off – I don’t remember whether it was to the right or to the left – but it was the kind of response that the Lockheed people had predicted we would get. . . . The shutdown on the was just unbelievable. It was a quick jolt . . . and the tailoff . . . I never saw anything like that before, sparks and fire and smoke and lights.” John Young Gemini X.
Armstrong eased Gemini VIII toward the target at a barely perceptible speed of 8 centimeters per second. Then Armstrong gleefully reported, “Flight, we are docked!” For a brief moment, the flight controllers in Houston did not realize they had really accomplished docking. Then pandemonium broke loose…
The Gemini Program was conceived after it became evident to NASA officials that an intermediate step was required between Project Mercury and the Apollo Program. The major objectives assigned to Gemini were:
1-To subject two men and supporting equipment to long duration flights — a requirement for projected later trips to the moon or deeper space.
2-To effect rendezvous and docking with other orbiting vehicles, and to maneuver the docked vehicles in space, using the propulsion system of the target vehicle for such maneuvers.
3-To perfect methods of reentry and landing the spacecraft at a pre-selected land-landing point.
4-To gain additional information concerning the effects of weightlessness on crew members and to record the physiological reactions of crew members during long duration flights.
From the previous episode, we have Gemini VII waiting in orbit for Gemini VI-A to launch and rendezvous. Remember, Gemini VII could only remain in orbit for 14 days, the maximum duration of its flight. The goal was to launch Gemini VI-A on or before day 9 of Gemini VII’s mission.