Ghosts of Gemini

Forgotten photos show the human face of NASA's early astronaut program

(NASA/JSC/Arizona State University)

Gemini was the middle child of the early space program, the one we always have trouble remembering. Mercury had the right stuff, Apollo had the moon. Gemini had…hardware demonstrations. Yet these two-man missions—10 over the course of 20 months in 1965 and 1966—worked out some of the fundamentals of spaceflight, from spacewalking to orbital docking.

The Gemini astronauts also took some of the most memorable photos in NASA history. You’d think we would have seen them all by now. But with NASA's help and funding, a team of researchers at Arizona State University led by lunar scientist Mark Robinson has retrieved from the archives (and scanned at high resolution) dozens of outtakes that never made it into wide circulation.

In frames snapped from a slightly different angle, just seconds later, familiar Gemini scenes come to new life. And occasionally, something unexpected pops out. Ed White, who likely would have walked on the moon had he not died in the Apollo 1 fire in 1967 that also killed crewmates Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee, appears in this moody portrait from Gemini 4—a ghost in the machine, emerging from the shadows nearly half a century later.

See the gallery below for more Gemini images, and be sure to visit ASU's online March to the Moon gallery for the full collection, complete with high-resolution, downloadable versions.

The First Rendezvous

(NASA/JSC/Arizona State University)

During the first space rendezvous in December 1965, Jim Lovell’s helmet is barely visible in Gemini 7’s window (facing us in the center of the frame), in this photo taken from Gemini 6.

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