Daily Cosmobite: First successful spacecraft rendezvous

The first successful rendezvous in space, of the Gemini 6A and Gemini 7 spacecraft, was in December 1965. This marked the beginning of many space rendezvous and demonstrated the potential for two spacecraft to dock in orbit.  The two craft were not equipped for docking but came within 1 foot (or approx. 30cm) of each other, which is very close!

Today’s Cosmobite is by Sam Knox, an astronomy guide at MAAS – Sydney Observatory.

Gemini 7
Gemini 7 from Gemini 6A, in low Earth orbit. Photo courtesy NASA.


5 responses to “Daily Cosmobite: First successful spacecraft rendezvous

  • Wow 1 foot! That’s amazing. What a great photo too. May I ask what was the first pair of craft that actually did dock?

    • > The first successful docking was soon after on March 16th 1966, when Command Pilot Neil Armstrong and Pilot David Scott docked Gemini 8 with Agena Target Vehicle, an unmanned test ship. The docking was a success until both spaceships began to roll. Gemini 8 used its Orbit And Manoeuvring System (OAMS) to stop the roll. After the roll stopped, it unfortunately recommenced soon after. Unsure about the cause of this roll, the Armstrong and Scott decided to undock and find out its cause. To perform this manoeuvre they had to use their Re-entry Control System (RCS). Later it was found that one of the OAMS thrusters was faulty and was causing the roll and was switched off. Unfortunately, they were unable to redock as protocol states that if the RCS is used for any reason then the mission must be aborted.

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