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December 13, 2010 - Quick Thinking

Quick Thinking Gemini VI was supposed to be the first human space mission to rendezvous and dock with another spacecraft. An Atlas-Agena target vehicle was launched on October 25, 1965, about two hours before Gemini VI was supposed to be launched, but the target vehicle’s propulsion system failed, sending it to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Moments after this failure, NASA engineers suggested that the Gemini VI be postponed until Gemini VII was launched in December, so that Gemini VII could be used as a target for rendezvous (but not docking). So forty-five years ago this week, Gemini VI blasted off to catch Gemini VII (seen here from Gemini VI), which had already been in space for two weeks. The two spacecraft came as close as one foot to each other during their five-hour encounter.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

December 13-19, 2010

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 13

First Quarter Moon 8:59 AM ET
Jupiter 7° south of Moon
Geminid meteor shower

2001: Final drop test of the X-38 Crew Return Vehicle prototype

Moon phase Tuesday 14

Uranus 7° south of Moon
Geminid meteor shower

1546: Tycho Brahe born
1962: Mariner 2 first planet flyby (Venus)
1972: Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan becomes last human to walk on Moon

Moon phase Wednesday 15

1965: Gemini VI launched
1970: Venera 7 makes first landing on Venus
1984: Vega 1 launched to study Venus and Halley’s Comet
2003: National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center opens
2010: Soyuz TMA-20 launched carrying ISS Expedition 26/27 crew

Moon phase Thursday 16

1857: E. E. Barnard born
1965: Pioneer 6 launched
1976: Last two Saturn V moon rockets donated to museums

Moon phase Friday 17

1903: First powered flight, by Orville Wright
1979: First successful test of all three Space Shuttle main engines

Moon phase Saturday 18

1999: Terra spacecraft launched

Moon phase Sunday 19

Mercury in inferior conjunction

1960: MR-1A launched, first Mercury capsule
1961: CNES founded
1966: United Nations approves Outer Space Treaty
1999: STS-103 Discovery launched

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.