Gemini 8 Landing – back on Earth.
Although we often see pictures of the space age in the form of rockets with enormous flames propelling them towards the heavens and shuttles as they cruise through the serene weightlessness of outer space, we don’t often see the pictures of the most important part, the return.
This photograph was taken on March 17th, 1966 off the coast of Japan. The ship had launched early that morning with the goal intended for it to take part in the first ship-to-ship docking while in space, something that would become a necessity once full operations would commence outside of our atmosphere. In order to ensure a successful mission, an excellent crew was selected, headed by Neil Armstrong. Armstrong would become the first man on the moon with the Apollo 11 mission. For now, he was just a mission captain.
The Gemini 8 started its launch very smoothly, ascending into the beyond. No one would’ve guessed that trouble awaited them. As the ship was beginning its docking at the target, it began to roll instead of rotate. The astronauts quickly scrambled as they tried to stop the ship’s strange habit and found that one of their thrusters was stuck on, and that was what was causing this abnormality.
Unfortunately, too much fuel was spent fixing the problem, so they had to abort the mission. The Gemini flew back to orbit and touched down in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Luckily no one was harmed with reentry, but to this day, no one is quite sure why that thruster malfunctioned.