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My July fund-raising campaign, celebrating the 13th anniversary of the start of this website, has now ended. This was the second most successful monthly fund-raising campaign ever. Thank you again to everyone who has who donated or subscribed. It is difficult to explain what your support means to me.


You can still donate or subscribe to support my work if you wish, either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are four ways of doing so:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


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Astronaut Richard Gordon, 88, has died

R.I.P. Astronaut Richard Gordon, who piloted both a Gemini and an Apollo mission in the 1960s, has passed away at 88.

I described one of Gordon’s spacewalks during his Gemini 11 mission in 1966 as follows:

When he opened the hatch, both he and everything unfastened in the capsule was sucked toward space. Pete Conrad had to grab a leg strap on Gordon’s spacesuit to prevent him from drifting away. Later, Conrad had to pull him back using his umbilical cord. The arduous nature of the work caused both Gordon and his spacesuit to overheat, leading him to terminate the firs spacewalk after only 33 minutes.

On Gordon’s second and last flight on Apollo 12 he remained in orbit while Pete Conrad and Alan Bean went down to the surface, the third and fourth humans to walk on another world.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • wayne

    Gemini 11
    Universal News 1966

  • Edward

    The main purpose of Project Gemini was to learn all that was needed to perform the Apollo missions, including orbital maneuvering, rendezvous, docking, and working outside the spacecraft. Ed White’s excursion did not require any actual work, so he had an easy time of it (perhaps fooling the planners for future missions), but many important lessons were learned from subsequent spacewalks, because it turns out that it is not as easy to work in zero G as one would think. Everything takes longer than in the movies.

    wayne’s video, above, tells about the one-orbit rendezvous of Gemini 11. The reason it was needed for Apollo is because the LEM Ascent Module coming from the lunar surface was going to rendezvous with the Apollo mother ship shortly after lunar launch. Many rendezvous (this is also the plural) took a couple of days or so, but the Russians are now using a “fast Rendezvous” that takes six hours (about 4 orbits).

    For those who are seriously curious, I came across this article, which uses a little humor and very little math, to explain rendezvous.

    Notice that Gemini 11 and/or its Agena target craft would have had to use a “dog-leg” maneuver to get it into the correct orbital plane for rendezvous.

    As an aside, Figure 9 is the kind of thing that we used in my orbital mechanics class to examine rendezvous (a math intensive calculation, using partial differential equations in three dimensions).

  • Judy

    Sorry for the pedantry, but shouldn’t it be “both a Gemini and an Apollo…”?

  • Judy: No apologies required. Pedantry appreciated! My grammar has been fixed.

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