Picture of the Day: The First Manned Space Rendezvous

By Rebecca J. Rosen

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On this day in 1965, the Gemini VI-A launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida. Hours later, it met up with Gemini VII, and the two spacecraft traveled together for three and a half orbits at distances as close together as one foot apart. The two crews spoke to each other over radio, but the spacecrafts were not capable of docking. Before the crews went to bed the crew of Gemini VI-A had a message for Gemini VII, recounted astronaut Walter Schirra in his memoirs:

Gemini 7, this is Gemini 6. We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, probably in polar orbit.... Looks like he might be going to reenter soon. Stand by one.... You just might let me to pick up that thing.... I see a command module and eight smaller modules in front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit.

The crew then played Jingle Bells on a harmonica and some bells -- the first instruments ever played in space, according to the Smithsonian Institution. The above picture of Gemini VII was taken by the crew of Gemini VI-A at a distance of about 30 feet.

Below, recent Pictures of the Day:

Image: NASA.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/12/picture-of-the-day-the-first-manned-space-rendezvous/250030/