On March 16, 1966, the spacecraft Gemini-8 With its passengers, it marked the first connection with another spacecraft in space.
Gemina-8 was the sixth manned flight in NASA’s Gemina program. Along with achieving the first successful loading between two spacecraft, this mission also suffered the first critical system failure in space.
This mission, which was supposed to be three days, two passengers, pilot David Scott and astronaut Neil Armstrong brought along The spacecraft must be with the target vehicle Ajna He met and anchored.
David Scott planned to spend two hours and ten minutes outside the spacecraft during this mission. During this activity, it retrieved the nuclear emulsion radiation experiment from the Gemina spacecraft adapter and activated the micrometeorite experiment on Ajna. Then he would return to Gemina and test the power tool with minimal reaction by loosening and tightening the screws on a plate.
The flight will also carry out three science experiments, four technology experiments and one medical experiment.
Ajna vehicle by Atlas missile It was launched earlier than the spacecraft. Geminai-8 also three hours after that by Titan-2 launched into orbit.
The astronauts spent six hours maneuvering and adjusting the direction of movement to reach Ajna. After inspecting Ajna and making sure it was safe, they started moving towards it. Within a few minutes, Ajna’s connection locks were attached to Gemina-8 and the connection was made successfully. But the problems started after that.
After AJNA began its operation to rotate the combined spacecraft 90 degrees to the right, Scott noticed that they were spinning. Armstrong used the Gemini propulsion engines to stop the rotation; But after they stopped, the rotation started again.
Mission controllers thought the problem was Ajna, and the crew decided to exit Ajna and analyze the situation, worried that the high spin rate might damage the spacecraft or cause the propulsion engines to explode.
Scott returned control of the Ajna to ground control while Armstrong started the engines to withdraw from the Ajna. As the mass of the spacecraft decreased, Gemini-8 began to spin even faster. The astronauts realized that the problem was with Gemini, and Armstrong used the control system to stop the rotation by shutting down the engines. This incident lasted thirty minutes from start to finish.
Scott later praised Armstrong’s actions during their spacecraft spin, saying:
“He was fantastic and knew the system very well. Armstrong found the solution and activated the solution in that difficult situation. It was my lucky day to fly with him.”
The rescue operation and the damage problem of Gemina-8
After this incident, Geminai-8 entered the emergency landing phase and the flight was stopped. The re-entry took place over China, out of range of NASA tracking stations. The planes were dispatched, and US Air Force pilot Les Schneider spotted the spacecraft as it landed just in time and on target.
All the troops and astronauts suffered from seasickness after the rescue operation. Three hours after landing, they were on deck. The astronauts were exhausted, but after the flight and landing in the water, they survived the conditions. They were examined for a short time and slept for 9 hours.
No definite reason was found for the engine failure. The most likely cause was a power outage, which is most likely caused by static electricity discharge. To avoid repeating this problem, the design of the spacecraft was changed so that each thruster has a separate circuit.