June 03 – Gemini IV and IX

Gemini IV was launched today in 1965, carrying astronauts James McDivitt and Edward H White on a journey of nearly 1.4 million nautical miles (while at the same time never venturing more than 139 nautical miles above the surface of the Earth).  It was the first US flight to last more than a day.

Gemini IV Mission Patch (image credit: NASA)

Gemini IV included an EVA (spacewalk) by Ed White that I guess NASA press officers would probably call “challenging”.  It took longer than it should have done to get the hatch open, communications between the crew and CAPCOM back on Earth were patchy, White’s hand-held maneuvering unit ran out of gas, and when he climbed back in after 20 minutes they needed to fix the door mechanism to make it lock behind him.

One year to the day later, June 3rd 1966, NASA was already up to Gemini IX.  The intended crew of this flight were Elliot M See and Charles M Bassett, both of whom would have been on their first outings into space, but they were killed in a training flight, piloted by See, a little over three months before launch, and were replaced by their back-up crew, Thomas P Stafford and Eugene A Cernan.

The original prime and backup crews of Gemini IX (image credit: NASA).
The original prime and backup crews of Gemini IX (image credit: NASA).

1875  –  Asteroid 144 Vibilia was discovered by C H F Peters on June 3rd 1875, and named after the Roman goddess of travelling and journeys.

1875 (again)  –  145 Adeona was discovered, also by Peters, on the same day, and he kept the theme going by naming it after the Roman goddess of homecoming (Peters was just back from a very long journey to observe a transit of Venus).