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Friday Reflection: Gemini 50 years on

Half a century ago today, Buzz Aldrin sat in a Gemini capsule on top of a Titan rocket and prepared to head into space. These pictures pay tribute to the pioneers who paved the way for the Apollo Lunar landings.

On November 11th, 1966, as many around the world remembered the fallen from the First World War, Gemini 12 was launched and a pair of brave pioneers headed into near Earth orbit to conduct EVA’s, or Extra Vehicular Activities. Their work helped to ensure the success of the future Apollo missions, and one of the pilots onboard was none other than Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin; a man who would walk on the moon just a few years later.

Gemini was a special program that rarely gets the deserved fame of the Apollo missions. Flown between 1965 and 1966, sandwiched between the Mercury and Apollo programs, the Gemini missions were mainly for testing the capabilities of new technology and for practicing EVA’s. NASA had very little space experience before the Gemini program; it hadn’t tested spacewalks, connecting craft in orbit and it didn’t yet know the effects of prolonged exposure to astronaut’s bodies. After the Gemini missions, it had a better understanding of all of this and more.

10 manned flights were conducted in total, as well as 2 unmanned tests. Here are some fantastic shots of these early pioneers:

“From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’”

Edgar Mitchel, Apollo 14 astronaut, speaking in People magazine on 8 April 1974.

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