50 Years Ago: Gemini 7 Splashdown

In our first “50 Years Ago” feature, The La Crosse Tribune from December 18, 1965, provides the top story of the Gemini 7 spacecraft’s safe splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean after an amazing 14 days in space.

It is interesting to note that Lovell, who commanded the famous Apollo 13 mission in 1970, graduated high school in Milwaukee and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for two years.

La_Crosse_Tribune_1965_12_18

Borman, Lovell Home
Safely From Space Trip

SPACE CENTER, Houston, Tex. AP — Blackened by the fire of re-entry, the Gemini 7 space ship road a parachute to a landing in the Atlantic Ocean today, bringing astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell home safely from man’s greatest adventure in space.

Weary and heavily bearded after 14 long days of the weightless ordeal, they guided their tiny craft to a splashdown at 8:05 a.m. (CST), 11 to 17 miles from the prime recovery vessel, the aircraft carrier Wasp.

The meteoric dive back to earth ended the most exciting and the most significant space voyage ever flown by man. Borman and Lovell had traveled far longer than any other spacemen—330 hours 35 minutes; flown the most miles — 5,129,400, and had given the United States a long lead over Russia in many other phases of the race between the nations to be first on the moon.

And, with a skillful assist from the Gemini 6 pilots, Walter Schirra and Thomas Stafford, they had achieved the first true rendezvous of orbiting space ships—an historic feat recorded graphically on color film.

The exhausted spacemen asked for a helicopter pickup, electing not to wait for the arrival of the Wasp. They climbed through the hatches into life rafts and gave the pilots of the rescue planes overhead thumbs-up signals telling them everything was okay.

A horsecollar was lowered from a helicopter and each astronaut was hauled up and flown to the Wasp, where excited sailors lined up lined the rails waiting for a glimpse of them. They were deposited on the deck of the carrier at 8:37 a.m., 32 minutes after splashdown.

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