The second manned flight was far more ambitious. James McDivitt and Ed White stayed in orbit aboard Gemini 4 for more than four days, and White became the first American to walk in space (see over). The astronauts also carried out a variety of other experiments and attempted unsuccessfully to rendezvous with the spent upper stage of their Titan rocket.
Gemini 5, launched in August 1965, pushed the limits still further. New fuel cells allowed Gordon Cooper and Pete Conrad to remain in orbit for eight days, conducting various experiments. This flight also saw the debut of the crew-designed mission patch (see top left), though officials insisted the words "Eight days or bust" were removed in case the spacecraft had to be brought home early.
Command Pilot Pete Conrad is photogrophed by crewmate Gordon Cooper shortly after launch on their record-breaking eight day mission aboard Gemini 5 in August 1965.
The unique design of Gemini was o hybrid between the Mercury capsule and a fighter aircraft, with hatches that opened directly above the heads of the astronauts, allowing them to stand up into open space.
John Young straddles a Gemini capsule while Gus Grissom looks on from a life raft during water egress training ot Ellington Air Force Base, Texas. Grissom had experience of watery escapes from his Mercury days and at first wanted to name his Gemini 3 capsule Titanic - an idea that was firmly vetoed by NASA officials.
Ed White's 15-minute space walk went more smoothly than Alexei Leonov's and was captured in stunning photographs by James McDivitt. However, the fuel supply in his manoeuvring gun soon ran out and he, too, had difficulties re-entering his spacecraft.
THE RACE TO THE MOON
With future missions expected to become more complex, the time soon came to test the ability of astronauts and cosmonauts to operate in open space, beyond the confines of their spacecraft.
Sergei Korolev devised the idea of a two-man Vostok variant with an inflatable, detachable airlock at the same time as the three-man version used on Voskhod 1. Initially known as Vykhod (Exit), the mission's name was changed to Voskhod 2 at a late stage - the authorities felt the original name gave away the mission's purpose and could lead to embarrassment if the spacewalk did not go ahead.
Four cosmonauts trained for the mission, but Alexei Leonov was always frontrunner for the first spacewalk. Pavel Belyayev was selected as the commander, remaining inside the craft throughout the mission. After numerous tests, including a fully automated launch and spacewalk by a suited dummy, Voskhod 2 launched from Baikonur on 18 March 1965. During the second orbit, the airlock inflated and Leonov made his way outside for a historic but ultimately nerve-shredding 12 minutes floating above the Earth (see over). The return to Earth did not go smoothly either - a failure of the main retro-rocket meant that Belyayev had to manually fire the backup on the following orbit, but the awkward cabin layout contributed to a 46-second delay and an overshoot
The cramped design of Voskhod 2 meant that Pavel Belyayev's photographs of his crewmate Leonov were far less spectacular than the American images.
of the original landing zone. To compound this, there was a repeat of the separation problems that plagued Vostoks 1 and 2. The capsule finally made a bumpy landing in the snowy forests of the Perm region, some 368km (229 miles) off target, and the cosmonauts had to spend a freezing night inside the spacecraft, surrounded by curious wolves, before rescuers on skis arrived the following day.
Born in Texas, Edward Higgins White (1930-67) was one of NASA's second astronaut group. After studying aeronautical engineering, he became a USAF pilot and later test pilot, before joining NASA. He was a star among his group and, having flown on Gemini 4, was scheduled to fly again on Gemini 10 but instead took a promotion to the Apollo 1 prime crew in 1967. He died with his crewmates in the fire that engulfed the Apollo 1 capsule during training (see pp.118-19).
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