Gemini 9: NASA's Troubled Rendezvous Mission in Photos

New Plans


On May 17, 1966, the Agena Target Vehicle failed to achieve orbit. This not only postponed the Gemini 9 mission launch but required the use of the Augmented Target Docking Adapter (ATDA) for rendezvous and docking vehicle for the mission. Here the ATDA is prepared for flight in the Kennedy Space Center's Cryogenic Building.

Prelaunch Journey


On June 3, 1966, Gemini 9 command pilot, astronaut Thomas P. Stafford leads the way to the spacecraft while astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, pilot for the mission follows at Pad 19 using the prelaunch countdown.

Necessary Tools


Atop an Atlas launch vehicle rising from Pad 14 at Kennedy Space Center, an Augmented Target Docking Adapter (ATDA) is sent into space in preparation for the Gemini 9 space mission. The ATDA is a rendezvous and docking vehicle. [How NASA's Gemini Spacecraft Worked (Infographic)]

Coordinated Countdown


Inside the Pad 19 white room, from left, astronauts Thomas P. Stafford, command pilot, and Eugene A. Cernan, pilot, sit in the Gemini 9 spacecraft as a Gemini 9/Agena simultaneous launch demonstration — a test for the coordinated countdown of the Atlas Arena and Gemini-Titan vehicles.

An Angry Alligator


The docking adapter's protective cover failed to fully separate from the Augmented Target Docking Adapter (ATDA), preventing the docking of the two crafts during one of the three planned rendezvous. The Gemini 9 crew referred to the ATDA as an "angry alligator." The craft is about 66 (20 meters) feet from the Gemini 9 spacecraft in this photo.

Tech Check


On May 17, 1966, astronaut Thomas P. Stafford, Gemini 9 mission command pilot, inspects the 16mm Mauer camera. The camera will detail the Gemini 9 exterior and the Agena target vehicle while the two are docked.

Technical Problems


Failure of the ATDA protective cover to fully separate prevented the Gemini 9 craft from docking with the Augmented Target Docking Adapter, one of its three planned rendezvous for the Gemini 9 mission. The Gemini 9 is about 35 feet from the ATDA in this view.

Gemini 9 Command Pilot


Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford rides inside the Gemini 9 spacecraft during the mission on June 3, 1966. Stafford is the command pilot for the mission. Astronaut Eugene Cernan, Gemini 9 pilot, snapped this photo.



On June 5, 1966, astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, Gemini 9 pilot, performed his extravehicular activity, collecting this image of Earth and his umbilical cord. In the image, California, Arizona and Sonora, Mexico are visible.

Sunrise from Orbit


During Gemini 9's three days orbiting Earth, this image of sunrise over Earth's limb was captured with a modified 70mm Hasselblad camera.

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Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.