A two-fer this week, two images of the Gemini 9A capsule at KSC in Florida. First, the capsule itself:
and then a close-up of the capsule’s heat shield:
The Gemini 9A mission was a bit of an odd duck. Originally it was labeled Gemini 9, and was going to practice docking with an Agena orbital vehicle. But the launch vehicle for that target satellite failed, the Gemini launch was delayed (and renamed), and a replacement docking target cobbled together and launched. The Gemini 9A crew and craft were launched to meet up with their docking partner — only to find that due to a workmanship issue, it was disabled and couldn’t be used for anything more than rendezvous practice.
Still, the mission resulted in a number of advances — in particular, NASA learned that if you’re going to ask an astronaut to move around the outside of a spacecraft in orbit, it really helps to equip the vehicle with some hand-holds.