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September 12, 2011 - Twins over India

Twins over India The three-day Gemini XI mission, launched forty-five years ago this week, was the most ambitious Gemini mission to date. Gemini XI was the penultimate mission before the Apollo flights began, and by that time NASA had honed its ability to rendezvous and dock with other spacecraft already in orbit—a crucial element in the upcoming lunar missions. Astronauts Pete Conrad and Richard Gordon caught up to and docked with the Gemini-Agena Target Vehicle on their first orbit, and later fired the GATV’s engine to boost them into a higher record-setting orbit 850 miles above Earth. In Gordon’s high-altitude photo of the southern portion of India, the curve of the Earth is unmistakable. This dramatic photo is one of the most often-requested and reproduced images in the NASA archives.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

September 12-18, 2011

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 12

Full Moon 5:27 AM ET

1959: Luna 2 launched
1966: Gemini XI launched
1970: Luna 16 launched
1991: STS-48 Discovery launched
1992: STS-47 Endeavour launched
1993: STS-51 Discovery launched

Moon phase Tuesday 13

Uranus 6° south of Moon

1977: Second glide test of Space Shuttle Enterprise
1978: Venera 12 launched

Moon phase Wednesday 14

1966: Gemini XI, docked with Agena booster rocket, reaches 850-mile-high orbit

Moon phase Thursday 15

Moon at apogee

1965: “Lost in Space” premieres
1968: Zond 5 launched, first circumlunar spaceflight with living creatures (tortoises)

Moon phase Friday 16

Jupiter 5° south of Moon
Ceres at opposition

1848: First observation of Hyperion, moon of Saturn
1996: STS-79 Atlantis launched

Moon phase Saturday 17

Vesta appears stationary

1789: William Herschel discovers Mimas
1857: Konstantin Tsiolkovsky born
1930: Ed Mitchell born
1959: First powered flight of X-15
1976: First rollout of space shuttle Enterprise

Moon phase Sunday 18

1964: Saturn SA-7 launched
1977: Voyager 1 takes photo of Earth and Moon together in space
2006: Anousheh Ansari becomes first woman space tourist

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