Gemini XI Mission - Page 2 of 6

Launch occurred on September 12, 1966 at 9:42:26.5 a.m. EST Just a half second into the two-second period.

The Titan booster shoved Gemini XI toward a first-orbit rendezvous with near-perfect accuracy. At booster separation, when debris could be seen out the window. Gordon had warned himself not to look, but temptation got the better of him for a brief instant.

After five spacecraft maneuvers were made to adjust their orbit, the Agena, whose blinking lights they had been watching in the darkness, flashed into the sunlight over the Pacific and almost blinded them. The crew scrambled for sunglasses, then Conrad jockeyed the spacecraft to within 15 meters of the target's docking cone. Over the coast of California, only 85 minutes after launch, rendezvous in the first orbit was achieved consuming less fuel than expected.

The Gemini XI crew now had an opportunity to do something else that NASA had wanted for a long time - docking and undocking practice. Each man pulled out and drove back once in daylight and once in darkness. It was easy - much easier, Conrad said, than in the translation and docking trainer on the ground. For the first time, a copilot was given the chance to dock with a target vehicle.

After six hours of hard but frustration-free work, Conrad and Gordon powered down the spacecraft systems, ate a meal and soon got a "Good Night" salutation from the ground. For eight hours, they dozed and rested, awaking, as Gordon said, 'bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.'

The only complaints the pilots had were about their dirty windows. Dirty windows had plagued all Gemini flights. Conrad had asked if Gordon could wipe his window when he went outside. He was told he could rub half the command pilot's window with a dry cloth and bring the rag back for testing.

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