Northern portion of Sonora, Mexico; southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico, as seen from the Gemini XII spacecraft during its 30th revolution of Earth. Includes the Tucson, Phoenix, Mogollon Rim, and Painted Desert areas. A 100-foot tether line connects the Agena Target Docking Vehicle with the Gemini XII spacecraft.
[NASA caption for the first photograph]
The first photograph was taken with the Maurer camera and its 80mm lens after Aldrin had tethered the two spacecraft during his EVA.
The second photograph shows a breathtaking view of the Agena station-keeping at about 50 feet from the Gemini spacecraft over Borneo, Sibutu Passage, Sulu Archipelago, Philippine Islands during the third orbit of the Earth.
“This exercise demonstrated the feasibility of achieving stabilized orientation between two maneuverable spacecraft at slightly different altitudes, connected by a flexible tether. At the beginning of the exercise the two spacecraft were docked, the tether having been connected during Aldrin’s umbilical EVA. The vehicles were pitched to a vertical stable attitude, undocked, and separated, extending the tether. The second attempt to ‘capture’ or establish the gravity-gradient stabilization mode was judged successful in that the orientation was held for approximately 90 minutes with all control systems turned off. This successful demonstration promises a most useful technique for station-keeping spacecraft with minimum fuel expenditure.”
—Frank Bogart, NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight (Cortright, pg. 184)
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© All texts by Victor Martin-Malburet