Today in American History: June 3, 1965

Today in American History: June 3, 1965

Space exploration has always been so interesting to me, and Wes was practically born in the wrong era and would have loved to be around in the 1960's so see everything first hand.

On June 3, 1965 Major Edward H. White II was hovering 120 miles above the Earth. He opened the hatch of the Gemini 4 and stepped out of the capsule. This made him the first American astronaut to walk in space. He was attached to the space craft by a 25 foot lead. He controlled his movements with a hand held gun that used oxygen to propelled him in either direction. His space walk lasted for just over 20 minutes. Although he was the first American to do a space walk, the Soviet Aleksei A. Leonov was the first ever human to do a space walk. He beat White by only 16 days.

NASA's Gemini program was put in place at the height of the space race, and was the least famous of all three American manned space programs. Although it wasn't the most popular, it was an extension of Project Mercury which put the first American into space in 1961. Gemini ended up laying the groundwork for the Apollo lunar missions that began in 1968.

The Gemini space flights gave scientists a more in depth look at the biological effects of longer space travel. They were also the first missions to involve multiple crews. The Gemini program ended in 1966 and by the time it was over American astronauts had perfected several skills that would be essential for the Apollo missions. One of the most important skills they mastered was docking with other orbiting vehicles.

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