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For families of astronauts Cooper, Conrad long wait is over today

By William Clayton

SEABROOK, Texas -- One long wait was over today for the families of astronauts L. Gordon Cooper Jr. and Charles (Pete) Conrad. A longer one began.

Neither Mrs. Cooper nor Mrs. Conrad planned to go to Cape Kennedy today when their husbands arrive there for more tests and debriefing. There were so many tests to be made and so many sessions with physicians, technicians and scientists that plans called for no meeting of the astronauts and their wives until Sept. 9.

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The astronauts' wives, Trudy, Cooper and Jane Conrad, took their children out at dawn Sunday and watched the twinkling, speeding morning star that was the Gemini 5 going overhead on its next-to-last of 120 orbits. The spacecraft was clearly visible, zipping up from the horizon, yellowish and pale.

Two hours later, the wives and Mrs. Cooper's two daughters got confirmation by phone that all was well on splashdown. The long eight-day vigil was over.

"Wonderful," Trudy Cooper called it. It was the Coopers' 18th wedding anniversary.

"It couldn't be beaten," Mrs. Conrad said. "This is the happiest day of my life."

They enjoyed a conversation with their husbands aboard the carrier Lake Champlain, although the connection was bad.

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"He sounded just great it was good to be able to talk to him," Mrs. Cooper said of her husband. She admitted to some anxiety during the flight.

"The first day . . . until they were given the complete 'go,' was the worst," she said.

Mrs. Conrad said she surprised herself in that respect. She was "not really worried" after the successful launch, she said.

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