Space Cover #611: Gemini IV
On June 7, 1965, the Gemini IV crew of astronauts Jim McDivitt and Ed White landed in the Atlantic ocean. Gemini IV was the second manned spaceflight in NASA's Project Gemini.
Astronauts James McDivitt and Ed White circled the Earth 66 times in four days, making it the first US flight to approach the five-day flight of the Soviet Vostok 5. Subsequent Gemini flights would be longer, to prove endurance exceeding the time required to fly to the Moon and back.
The highlight of the mission was the first spacewalk by an American, during which White floated free outside the spacecraft, tethered to it, for approximately 20 minutes.
Tied to a tether, White floated out of the spacecraft, using a Hand-Held Maneuvering Unit (informally called a "zip gun") which expelled pressurized oxygen to provide thrust for controlling his travel. He went four point six meters (15 ft) out, and began to experiment with maneuvering. He found it easy, especially the pitch and yaw, although he thought the roll would use too much gas. He maneuvered around the spacecraft while McDivitt took photographs. White enjoyed the experience, but exhausted the HHMU gas sooner than he would have liked.
White was running up against two factors which constrained the time for his EVA: loss of signal from the Bermuda tracking station, and crossing the solar terminator. The flight controllers were becoming increasingly frustrated with their inability to remind White of the time constraint, because they didn't want the first EVA to be performed in darkness, or out of communication with Earth.
A few years ago when I was working on a large oil painting of Ed White during his spacewalk Jim McDivitt told me that, "Ed was having so much fun he didn't want to get back in the spacecraft. Chris Kraft was getting nervous, and I wanted him back before it got dark so that we could close the hatch!"
Jim was very kind to signed several covers for me including the three shown here.
The first cover is a Gemini 4 Captain's cover signed by McDivitt and White and cancelled the recovery ship U.S.S. Wasp.
The second cover is also cancelled U.S.S. Wasp with an Atlantic U.S. Navy Recovery Force rubber stamp cachet, signed My Jim McDivitt and Commanding Officer J.W. Conger.
The third cover also signed by Jim McDivitt is dated Jun 10, 1965b and cancelled in Houston Texas on the day that the crew was honored there by President Johnson. The cachet on the cover shows a grinning White and McDivitt aboard the recovery ship.