Gemini XI Mission - Page 3 of 6
Conrad and Gordon napped and rested a while longer, then started their next major task - preparation for Extravehicular Activity (EVA). Four hours before they were to open the hatch, the crew began to get their suits ready for the vacuum environment. They had practiced this so many times on the ground, Conrad said, that they soon realized they did not need all that time. Within 50 minutes, the gear was ready and running.

Briefly, the two men considered asking the Flight Director to let Gordon go out a revolution early. But they decided to keep on schedule.

At last it was almost time to open the hatch. Gordon began putting a sun visor on his faceplate which turned out to be a much bigger chore than anticipated. Conrad finally got the left side fastened, but he could not reach across Gordon to fasten the other side. Gordon wrestled with the right snap for five minutes and finally got it fastened, cracking the visor in the process. He was thoroughly winded before he got out of his seat. But he opened the hatch and stood up at 24:02 hours ground elapsed time, exactly on schedule.

As expected, everything in the spacecraft that was not tied down began to float upward and outward - including Gordon. Conrad grabbed for a strap on the leg of Gordon's suit and held him in the seat.

Gordon then deployed a handrail, installed a camera and handed an experiment in to Conrad.

The first challenge was to attach the Agena to the Gemini capsule by a 30-meter tether. Gordon pushed himself forward to the target and grabbed some fixed handrails to pull himself astride the spacecraft nose.

What had been relatively easy in zero-g airplane flight training had become a monumental task. In practice sessions in zero-g aircraft flights, Gordon had been able to accomplish the tasks with his feet and legs wedged between the docking adapter and the spacecraft to hold himself in place, leaving his hands free. But this did not seem to work so well in the actual conditions of space. All he could do was hold on with one hand and try to operate the tether clamp with the other. He struggled for six minutes, finally securing the line. To Conrad it was obvious that Gordon was running out of steam. With his face streaming with sweat and his eyes stinging, Gordon groped blindly about.

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