|Launch: 09/12/66, 9:42 a.m EST|
Landing: 09/15/66, 8:59 p.m. EST
Duration: 2 days, 23 hrs, 17 min, 8 sec
The primary objectives of Gemini XI were:
The countdown-to-launch began on schedule on September 9, 1966, but it did not finish that way. After the booster was fueled, the launch crew detected a pinhole leak in the first stage oxidizer tank, which had to be fixed. Launch was reset for September 10.
Trouble for the second scheduled send-off cropped up in a different area and much later in the countdown. Conrad and Gordon had completed the required rituals and headed toward pad 19 and their spacecraft when they heard that the Atlas (which would launch the Gemini Agena Target Vehicle), only 1,800 meters away, was having a problem with its autopilot. When the delay had stretched to an hour, the launch was postponed for two more days.
On September 12, 1966, Conrad and Gordon arrived at the pad and stepped into their seats exactly on time. The hatches were closed but they soon had to reopen Conrad's. He suspected that some oxygen was leaking from his side of the cabin. He was right. When the hatch had been fixed, the countdown went on.
At 8:05 a.m., the Atlas carrying the Agena roared into action launching the target for the crew of Gemini XI. If ever two pilots waited anxiously for the starter's gun to crack, Conrad and Gordon did. For the first objective to be met (a first-orbit rendezvous with the Agena) they had to launch the Gemini spacecraft within two seconds of the launch of the Agena. It was the shortest launch window in the Gemini program.
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