Recorded by an onboard movie camera, Gordon, pilot for the Gemini 11 space flight, struggled through a difficult spacewalk, suffering exhaustion while fixing a tether from the spacecraft to the attached Agena target. He had to cut short the EVA when he was blinded by sweat in his right eye. Here, he returns to the hatch of the spacecraft which was orbiting over the Atlantic Ocean at approximately 160 nautical miles above Earth’s surface.
Although there was a standup EVA period still before them, spacewalking (or swimming) on this mission was finished, and the feasibility of working outside the spacecraft was not settled by Gemini XI. Cernan had told Collins and Gordon about his problems, and Collins had further emphasized his experiences to Gordon. Yet, as the flights progressed, each successive pilot continued to be amazed that the simplest tasks were so much harder than he expected.
“Gene Cernan warned me about this and I took it to heart,” Gordon later said. “I knew it was going to be harder, but I had no idea of the magnitude.” Apparently the supporting engineers had no idea, either, since they still had not provided satisfactory restraints to help the crews.”
—(Barton Hacker and James Grimwood, On the Shoulders of Titans, 1977, NASA SP-4203, ch. 15-3)
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© All texts by Victor Martin-Malburet