1965 : Astronaut James McDivitt, Michigan’s First Astronaut in Space

June 3, 2018 all-day

On June 3, 1965, James McDivitt was launched into space with Edward H. White aboard Gemini 4. The mission lasted four days and made 66 orbits, allowing the United States to come close to the early space endurance record of five days set by the Soviet Vostok 5 flight. The first objective was to attempt the first space rendezvous with the spacecraft’s spent Titan II launch vehicle’s upper stage. This was not successful; McDivitt was unable to get closer than what he estimated to be 200 feet (61 m). Several factors worked against him. There were depth-perception problems (his and White’s visual estimates of the distance differed, variously longer or shorter than each other at different times). The orbital mechanics of rendezvous were not yet well understood by NASA engineers. Also, the stage was venting its remaining propellant, which kept pushing it around in different directions relative to the spacecraft.

McDivitt finally broke off the rendezvous attempt in order to save fuel and preserve the second, more important objective, which was for White to perform the first United States “space walk”. McDivitt controlled the capsule’s attitude and photographed White during the “walk”.

Source : Wikipedia entry

Source : Michigan History, May/June 2011.

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