Centuori Discusses Gemini 8 Mission

Staff Writer

At their first quarter meeting, the Auglaize County Historical Society met at the Lockkeeper’s House in New Bremen and heard from the new executive director of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum, Dante Centuori, about the a recent anniversary that passed for Wapakoneta native Neil Armstrong.
Many in the county are aware of the 50th anniversary coming up for the Apollo 11 moon landing that happened on July 20, 1969, but on March 16, 1966 Armstrong made his first spaceflight with the Gemini VIII.
The spacecraft, which is on display at the museum, was occupied by Armstrong and David Scott. Together they completed what was nicknamed the “full spectrum mission” as they completed all of the objectives of the Gemini missions: rendezvous, docking and extravehicular activities (EVA’s or spacewalks).
While the mission was considered a partial failure as there was one hiccup that caused the astronauts to undock from the Agena Target Vehicle putting an end to the mission and not allowing Scott to complete the EVA.
The issue was encountered about 30 minutes after docking onto the Agena when the attitude on the command center in the craft warned the two men something was happening that wasn’t supposed to be.
The craft undocked and began to roll and yaw — spin around the vertical axis. According to Centuori, it was found that thruster 8 wasn’t working and it is believed that the Agena was at fault, but that was never confirmed.
Despite the hiccup, Armstrong’s knowledge and quick thinking during that time is possibly what made him a candidate for future flight missions, including Apollo 11.
“They made it, they survived, obviously,” he said. “The mission was still successful … and it led to the other successes of Gemini with docking and EVAs and led to the groundwork of Apollo. Obviously, Neil Armstrong’s cool head under those emergency situations did not hurt his career — it certainly helped.”