Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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  • Space Exploration
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Gemini 8 Mission 

Gemini 8 launched on 16 March 1966, piloted by ormer naval aviator Neil A. Armstrong. Gemini 8 completed seven orbits in 10 hours and 41 minutes at an altitude of 161.3 nautical miles. This was the first mission to link two spacecraft together in Earth orbit. After 30 minutes, the crew was force to undock with the Agena vehicle due to problems with the Gemini spacecraft control systems. Recovery was by USS Leonard F. Mason (DD-852).

For more information, visit NASA’s Gemini Program webpage.


Photographs from USS Boxer's recovery of Gemini 8 and the Shellback Ceremony when crossing the equator.

USS Boxer (CV-21) the designated recovery ship for the Gemini 8 mission, during a test recovery operation. USS Leonard F. Mason was the ship that recovered the Gemini 8 command module after it was diverted to a secondary splashdown zone. (UA 539.18)



Astronauts David R. Scott (left), Pilot; and, Neil A. Armstrong (right), Command Pilot, pose with model of the Gemini Spacecraft after being selected as the crew for the Gemini VIII mission. (Image Credit: NASA)

Astronauts David R. Scott (left), pilot; and, Neil A. Armstrong (right), command pilot, pose with model of the Gemini spacecraft after being selected as the crew for the Gemini 8 mission. (Image Credit: NASA)



Gemini 8 Crew Preparing to Board

Commander Neil Armstrong (right) and pilot David R. Scott prepare to board the Gemini-Titan 8. Gemini 8 successfully launched at 11:41 a.m. EST, 16 March 1966. The mission conducted the first docking of two spacecraft in orbit and landed safely back on Earth after an emergency abort. (Image Credit: NASA)



Gemini 8 spacecraft hoisted aboard the USS Leonard F. Mason

The Gemini 8 spacecraft, with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and David R. Scott still aboard, is hoisted aboard the destroyer USS Leonard F. Mason. Trouble with the Gemini 8 Orbit Attitude and Maneuvering System (OAMS) forced an early termination of the mission.  (NASA Photo ID: S66-18613)



Gemini 8 spacecraft hoisted aboard the USS Leonard F. Mason

The Gemini 8 spacecraft, with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and David R. Scott still aboard, is hoisted aboard the destroyer USS Leonard F. Mason. Trouble with the Gemini 8 Orbit Attitude and Maneuvering System (OAMS) forced an early termination of the mission. (NASA Photo ID: S66-26037)



Gemini 8 spacecraft hoisted aboard the USS Leonard F. Mason

The Gemini 8 spacecraft, with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and David R. Scott still aboard, is hoisted aboard the destroyer USS Leonard F. Mason. Trouble with the Gemini 8 Orbit Attitude and Maneuvering System (OAMS) forced an early termination of the mission. (NASA Photo ID: S66-34101)


Published: Tue Jul 16 15:29:07 EDT 2019