Gemini: Spacecraft That Paved The Way To The MoonRichard HollinghamMore Like This
It is 50 years since Nasa’s first manned Gemini spacecraft flew into orbit. Richard Hollingham looks back on one of the space race’s most daring – and hair-raising – missions.
On 5 June 1966, 200 kilometres above Australia, Gene Cernan was attempting to activate one of the most ill-conceived, badly designed and dangerous pieces of equipment ever flown in space.
The Astronaut Manoeuvring Unit (AMU) was a James Bond-style rocket-powered backpack. To put the AMU on, Cernan had to leave his Gemini capsule, spacewalk around to the rear section, unfold struts and arms, activate a complex series of fuel and oxygen valves – most out of sight in the near-darkness – before strapping himself in.
He was issued with woven chainmail trousers for protection against the rocket’s exhaust.
“It was a real rocket, powered by hyd