Kuiper strikes a pose in front of the Gemini 6A spacecraft. He is wearing an American flag collar.

Gemini VI-A

Kuiper performs a rendezvous with the flown Gemini 6A capsule at the Stafford Air & Space Museum in Weatherford, OK. Thank you @staffordmuseum for allowing Kuiper to visit! The museum is amazing!

Gemini 6 was originally scheduled to launch on Oct 25, 1965. The plan was for Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra to rendezvous (line up with) an unmanned Agena vehicle. Unfortunately, the Agena exploded shortly after takeoff, so the launch was scrubbed (that means “canceled or postponed after everything is loaded up and ready to go.” Think scrubbing plans off a chalkboard.)

On December 12, the 2nd launch attempt was nearly a disaster. The Titan II’s engines died abruptly a couple of seconds after ignition. According to protocol, Wally was technically supposed to hit eject, but made a split second choice not to since the rocket had not actually lifted off the pad. This decision likely saved their lives.

The cause of the engine cutoff was that the computer clock’s power plug had fallen out prematurely. That turned out to be fortunate. When checking everything over, NASA discovered that someone had forgotten to remove a dust plug from one of the generators, which could have caused a far more catastrophic failure.

On December 15, the third try was the charm and Gemini 6 launched into orbit. Gemini 7 had launched earlier as planned on December 4th, with Frank Borman and Jim Lovell aboard. When deciding what to do about 6’s rendezvous, NASA said, “Heck it, let’s do it live!” Thus on December 16, 1965, Gemini 6 successfully performed the first space rendezvous in orbit, lining up with Gemini 7.

In addition to the first rendezvous in orbit, Gemini 6 also first sighted a curious UFO! ? Mission transcript excerpt:

“Roger, Houston, Gemini VII, this is Gemini VI. We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, probably in a polar orbit. ? He’s in a very low trajectory traveling from north to south and has a very high climbing ratio. ? It looks like it might even be a …Very low. Looks like he mlght be going to reenter soon… ?”

Gemini 6 then performed Jingle Bells live ???, with Wally on harmonica and Tom on bells. ?

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BwN1SXZBVP2/

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