Gemini Program/ UFOs

Published: 1965
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President Lyndon Baines Johnson takes his second oath of office on Capitol Hill in Washington DC on January 20, 1965, administered by Chief Justice Earl Warren. His wife, Lady Bird Johnson proudly looks her husband. (UPI Photo/Files)..

Announcer: Nowhere are automatic devices more important than in the transistorized mazes of Cape Kennedy and the Houston Space Center and in the rockets and manned capsules they hurled into space. And in 1965 the devices worked pretty well enabling the United States to end the year with history's first rendezvous between two orbiting spaceships.

This was the year a Russian astronaut took the first walk in outer space. Russia also sent several instrument packages to the Moon but their attempted soft landings failed.

France became the third nation to orbit a satellite with its own rocket. America took close up pictures of the Moon and Mars and continued to build its worldwide communications network.

But America's most spectacular efforts were steps in the Gemini Program, our stairway to the Moon. Gemini III with astronauts Gus Grissom and John Young became America's first two men space flight. Then in June came Gemini IV with space twins McDivitt and White up for 62 orbits. Flight landed in 98 hours.

It was here an American first walked in space. This was the conversation as Ed White floated outside the Gemini spaceship. White is taking pictures of the ship when McDivitt says...

Jim McDivitt: "Let me take a closer picture. You smeared up my windshield you dirty dog!"

Edward White: "Aha!"

Jim McDivitt: "Yeah."

Edward White: "(Inaudible)."

Jim McDivitt: "And I don't even know exactly where we are but much like we are about to overtake."

Edward White: "Yeah."

Pie Chamberlain: White enjoyed his walk in space so much that it took a direct order from the ground to get him back in the spaceship.

In August Gemini V carried astronauts Cooper and Conrad around the world 120 times in almost 191 hours for a new endurance record. But here there was a partial failure. Because of fuel cell trouble they had to cancel attempts to rendezvous with an instrument pod.

Unknown Speaker 1: "Be advised, there will be no, I say again, there will be no over burns over the State. We will not attempt to rendezvous with the rep."

Unknown Speaker 2: "Alright, we understand, no rendezvous and there will be no burns."

Unknown Speaker 1: "That's affirmative."

Pie Chamberlain: Later the fuel cell problem did clear up and space officials did put Gemini V through maneuvers to rendezvous with the phantom Ageno rocket. In theory anyhow this proved that the space chase could be completed successfully. A rendezvous attempt with a real Agena rocket scheduled for Gemini VI didn't get far before there was a failure. And astronauts Stafford and Schirra heard these words...

Unknown Speaker: "The mission has been scrubbed. We have scrubbed the mission for the day because canavaral is not acquired, we can assume the Atlast -- the Agena vehicle went in the Atlantic some 5,500 miles short of the desired velocity."

Pie Chamberlain: Gemini VI was rescheduled as a part of a year end space spectacular. Gemini 76. VII was to orbit first then a week or so later they'd send off Gemini VI and the two would meet in space. But on the first attempt to launch VI we heard...

Unknown Speaker 1: "Five, four, three, two, one, zero."

Unknown Speaker 2: "We've got a shut down. No lift off, the engines have shut down."

Pie Chamberlain: The shot was aborted but three days later it lifted off on schedule and five-and-a-half hours after that the four astronauts and two spacecrafts were close enough to look through the ports and see each other as they flew nose-to-nose.

Unknown Speaker 1: "Do you have anything for us?"

Unknown Speaker 2: "There seems more traffic up there, that's all."

Unknown Speaker 1: "VI, what's your range?"

Unknown Speaker 2: "About 40 feet."

Unknown Speaker 3: "Roger, 40 feet, mate, we did it!"

Pie Chamberlain: At one point Schirra saw something hanging from the Gemini VII capsule.

Unknown Speaker 1: "Where are they hanging from?"

Unknown Speaker 2: "A plank that flatly splits up at the separation, it might be the fiber glass that's approximately about 10-15 feet long."

Unknown Speaker 1: "The separation planks of the booster, right?"

Unknown Speaker 2: "Affirmative!"

Unknown Speaker 1: "That's exact area I want to."

Pie Chamberlain: And so it went on as the two crafts flew around each other with the spacemen talking and snapping pictures. If the accomplishments of the United States in space during 1965 seemed to recall the days of Buck Rogers even they seemed to pale alongside the floury of reports of unidentified flying objects or as some called them Flying Saucers. The reports came from many places throughout the mid and south-west. Like this report from Deputy Sheriff Everette Tucker of Wellington, Kansas.

Everette Tucker: "We had a call out of which John says it's been confirmed on these jobs. My wife and I were out on the riven. We did see this object to the east and it was a big round flame, you know, and there was vapor going out at the back but it looked like far not a vapor smoke. And it was a long result but it is pretty big, well, it was enormous, it had to be because it looked like a horse tank and we have seen it."

Pie Chamberlain: Space officials called it ridiculous but was it mass hypnosis, overactive imagination, an experimental spacecraft or a new military weapon? Was it theres or ours, or was it really a visitor from outer space? Who's to know, with everything else that happened in 1965 almost anything is believable.

This has been 1965 In Review, a production of the United Press International Audio Network. Produced and directed by Fred Dressler. This is Pie Chamberlain.