Gemini VI Astronauts Thomas P. Stafford and Walter M. Schirra Jr.

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Astronauts Thomas P. Stafford (left), and Walter M. Schirra Jr., pose for the camera during suiting up exercises on Oct. 22, 1965. Stafford was selected among the second group of astronauts in September 1962 by NASA to participate in Projects Gemini and Apollo. In December 1965, he piloted Gemini VI, which made the first rendezvous in space with Gemini VII, and helped develop techniques to prove the basic theory and practicality of space rendezvous.

In June 1966, Stafford commanded the Gemini IX mission and performed a demonstration of an early rendezvous that would be used in the Apollo lunar missions, the first optical rendezvous, and a lunar orbit abort rendezvous. He was also commander of Apollo 10 in May 1969; he descended to nine miles above the Moon, performing the entire lunar landing mission except the actual landing. He logged his fourth spaceflight as Apollo commander of the Apollo-Soyuz mission in July 1975, which culminated in the historic first meeting in space between American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts.

Learn more about Stafford and the missions he participated in.

Image Credit: NASA

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