Kuiper at 11 weeks vs. Kuiper at 146 weeks. Inspired by @mygiantadventures. “It looks like an angry alligator out here..” Tom Stafford, Gemini 9A
Gemini 9’s original mission objectives were to dock with an unmanned Agena vehicle and test out a fancy new spacewalk 🚀 jetpack. Due to a launch failure, the Agena never made it to orbit. That left Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan with the backup target: the Augmented Target Docking Adapter.
Unfortunately, someone left the cap on the ATDA. Three different companies were responsible. During training on Earth, an engineer from Douglas left out a hands-on demonstration of how to hook up the cover-detaching explosive bolts (because safety.) His spouse proceeded to have a baby, so he wasn’t present for the actual launch. The Lockheed guys copied his notes and handed them off to the McDonnell guys, but a critical blueprint was omitted.
The McDonnell folks weren’t sure what to do with a bunch of extra wires hanging around, so they neatly taped them down to get them out of the way. As a result, when Tom and Gene caught up with the ATDA, its cover was hanging half open “like an angry alligator.” Oops. They weren’t able to work out a safe way to get the cover off, so they ended up just doing a rendezvous.
As for the spacewalk, Cernan would later write, “It can safely be said that we didn’t know diddly squat about walking in space when I popped the hatch open on Gemini 9.” Due to the lack of underwater training at the time, he was woefully unprepared for how difficult it would be to move anything at all in a pressurized suit in microgravity. In addition, handholds and footholds were scarce, so he had little to no leverage.
Flailing and spinning at the end of a tether, Gene began to fatigue and overheat, and his visor completely fogged up. 🌫️ Worst of all, he began to get pickle burps. 🤢 Talking to Houston, Tom described Gene’s communication as a “loud gargle.” After giving Gene a chance to rest, they decided to call it.
Although he didn’t get a chance to test out the rocket backpack that day, Gene did make it safely back inside. 😅 And as Tom said in the mission transcript, “I think we’ve learned a lot.
(June 3-6, 1966)
Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BxOGoGEhYyh/