Gemini 8 Crashes by Steve Payne, Eric
Oppen & Joel Bader
says: what if the Gemini 8 space mission with Neil Armstrong and David
Scott on-board disintegrated after spinning out of control and was lost?
Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily
reflect the views of the author(s).
President John F. Kennedy paid tribute to Neil Armstrong
and David Scott in a televised speech to the nation which re-affirmed the
goal of landing on the moon during this decade. Yet the tragic loss of the
Gemini 8 astronauts forced a return to the X-15 space plane concept,
delaying the program by five years.
Gemini 8 was the sixth manned spaceflight in NASA's program, but the first
to attempt the docking of two spacecraft in orbit. And the first critical
in-space system failure led to a disintegration after the spacecraft spun
out of control, and was then lost as were the lives of the two astronauts
Neil Armstrong and David Scott.
"The failure of the Git might cause men to rethink
the cancelled X-15b program in which an X-15 would be mounted on a missile
and launhed skyward. Perhaps the shuttle's development would be moved
forward by at least from that point forward. Might even excellerate things"
- readers commentgena attitude system was acting up and might not
have the correct program stored in it. Just before they went off contact
with the ground, the crew of Gemini 8 were informed that if anything strange
were to happen, they were to turn off the Agena. After Scott had instructed
the Agena to turn them 90° to the right, he noticed that they were in a
roll. Armstrong used the Gemini's Orbit Attitude and Maneuvering System (OAMS)
to stop the roll, but the moment he stopped using the thrusters, it started
again. They immediately turned off the Agena and this seemed to stop the
problem for a few minutes. Then suddenly it started again.
Scott noticed that the Gemini attitude fuel had dropped to 30% indicating
that it was a problem on their own spacecraft. They would have to undock.
After transferring control of the Agena back to the ground they undocked and
with a long burst of translation thrusters moved away from the Agena.
It was at that point that the Gemini spacecraft began to roll even faster,
and approached one revolution per second. The astronauts were now in danger
of impaired vision and loss of consciousness due to the violent motion. At
this point Armstrong tried to shut down the OAMS and used the Re-entry
Control System reaction control system (RCS) to stop the spin, but
unfortunately he failed to execute.
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Steve Payne, Editor of
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