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December 14, 2020 - 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 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 55 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 historic five-hour encounter.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

December 14 - 20, 2020

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 14

New Moon 11:17 AM ET
Total solar eclipse (S Pacific, S America, S Atlantic)

1546: Tycho Brahe born
1962: Mariner 2 first planet flyby (Venus)
1972: Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan becomes last human to walk on Moon
2013: Chang'e-3 spacecraft lands on Moondeploys Yutu rover

Moon phase Tuesday 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
2015: Soyuz TMA-19M launched carrying ISS Expedition 46/47 crew
2017: SpaceX CRS-13 launched, first flight to ISS of previously flown orbital booster and Dragon capsule

Moon phase Wednesday 16

Jupiter 3° north of Moon

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

Moon phase Thursday 17

Saturn 3° north of Moon

1903: First powered flight, by Orville Wright
1979: First successful test of all three Space Shuttle main engines
2012: GRAIL A & B spacecraft impact Moon
2017: Soyuz MS-07 launched carrying ISS Expedition 54/55 crew

Moon phase Friday 18

1999: Terra spacecraft launched

Moon phase Saturday 19

Mercury in superior conjunction

1960: MR-1A launched, first Mercury capsule
1961: CNES founded
1966: United Nations approves Outer Space Treaty
1999: STS-103 Discovery launched
2012: Soyuz TMA-07M launched carrying ISS Expedition 34/35 crew
2013: Gaia spacecraft launched

Moon phase Sunday 20

Neptune 5° north of Moon

1904: Mount Wilson Solar Observatory founded
1972: Final M2-F3 lifting body flight
1978: Venera 12 lander lands on Venus
2009Soyuz TMA-17 launched carrying ISS Expedition 22/23 crew

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