Gemini XI Mission - Page 4 of 6

As the pilot inched his way back to the hatch area, Conrad helped him as much as he could. They then discussed whether Gordon should go to the adapter and get the maneuvering gun stored there. His right eye was still burning, and Conrad could see just how exhausted his pilot was. The power tool evaluation became a casualty on Gemini XI as it had been on VII. The command pilot soon told the ground that he had "brought Dick back in . . . He got so hot and sweaty, he couldn't see. Gordon's EVA was ended and the hatch closed. It had been open 33 minutes, instead of the planned 107.

Because Conrad and Gordon were surrounded by so much loose gear, they opened the hatch an hour later and jettisoned all the umbilical extravehicular equipment.

As the Gemini flights progressed, each successive pilot continued to be amazed that the simplest tasks were so much harder than expected. "Gene Cernan warned me about this, and I took it to heart," Gordon later said. "I knew it was going to be harder, but I had no idea of the magnitude." Apparently the supporting engineers had no idea, either, since they still had not provided satisfactory restraints to help the crews.

The extreme exhaustion of past EVA pilots had sometimes adversely affected the rest of the mission, but Gordon's did not.

The next day, Conrad and Gordon skipped breakfast to get the cabin ready before the hard shove in their midsections sent them upstairs. They wanted things buttoned up as though for reentry. So they suited themselves, closed their faceplates, and stowed everything they could.

In the 26th revolution around the earth, Conrad triggered the firing signal to the Agena's main engine and fired it for 26 seconds. Since they faced the Agena, the acceleration forced the crew forward onto the seat harnesses. They watched the great round ball of Earth recede becoming the first humans to ever view the Earth as a sphere (from an altitude of 1374.1 km or 853.87 miles. A record altitude for an astronaut mission that would stand until Apollo 8 went to the Moon.) After two orbits the Agena was fired again for 22.5 seconds to lower the Gemini-Agena back down

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