The USS Kawishiwi was assigned to a secondary location near Pearl Harbor for the Gemini 11 Space Mission. She was on location 9 Sept. 1966. Crew members Randy Greenley and Gary Plavljanich ( aka Ivan ) trained with the Navy Seals for the mission. On 15 September 1966 the module landed in the Atlantic and the "Special K" was not needed and she pulled back into Pearl Harbor.
Gemini 11 was the ninth crewed Earth-orbiting spacecraft of the Gemini series, carrying astronauts Charles "Pete" Conrad and Richard Gordon. The 3-day mission was designed to achieve a first orbit rendezvous and docking with the Agena target vehicle, to accomplish two ExtraVehicular Activity (EVA) tests, to perform docking practice, docked configuration maneuvers, tethered operations, parking of the Agena target vehicle and demonstrate an automatic reentry. There were also eight scientific and four technological experiments on board. The scientific experiments were (1) synergistic effect of zero-g and radiation on white blood cells, (2) synoptic terrain photography, (3) synoptic weather photography, (4) nuclear emulsions, (5) airglow horizon photography, (6) UV astronomical photography, (7) Gemini ion wake measurement, and (8) dim sky photography.
This is a naval event cover to
note the participation of the U S Navy fleet oiler USS Kawishiwi
AO-146 as part of the recovery force for the Gemini
GTA-11 Rendevous Mission. Date of the
event was 15 September 1966. Cover is postmarked
aboard the ship with her four bar post office cancel. Cachet by Morris
W. Beck, this one is Beck # B 679. Any "funky" shadows in the scan
were caused by my scanner, they are not on the cover. From ebay
On 13 September at 9:44 a.m. EST (24:02 GET) the Gemini cabin atmosphere was evacuated and the hatch opened to begin Richard Gordon's scheduled 107 minute EVA. He was out of the hatch at 9:51, attached by an umbilical cord. He set up a movie camera and retrieved the micrometeorite experiment. The next task, detaching one end of the 30 meter tether from the Agena and attaching it to the Gemini spacecraft docking bar, proved to be exhausting and overstressed Gordon's life support system. After attaching the tether, Gordon stopped to rest astride the GATV, but the heavy perspiration inside the suit obscured his vision and finally blinded his right eye. Conrad ordered him to cancel the power tool evaluation and return to the cabin. Gordon returned to the cabin at about 10:12 a.m. and closed the hatch at 10:17 a.m. so the cabin could be repressurized. At 11:19 a.m. the hatch was opened again to jettison some excess equipment.
Following the sleep period,
the Agena primary propulsion system was fired for 25 seconds at
a.m. EST on 14 September, raising the docked spacecraft apogee to
km. (A record altitude for an astronaut mission that would stand until
Apollo 8 went to the Moon.) After two orbits the Agena was fired again
for 22.5 seconds to lower the Gemini-Agena back down to a 287 x 304 km
orbit. At 7:49 a.m. Gordon opened his hatch to begin a 2 hour 8 minute
standup EVA during which he conducted photographic experiments. The
was closed at 9:57 a.m. and shortly afterwards the spacecraft were
and Gemini 11 moved to the end of the 30 meter tether attaching the two
spacecraft. At 11:55 a.m. Conrad initiated a slow rotation of the
capsule about the GATV which kept the tether taut and the spacecraft a
constant distance apart at the ends of the tether. Oscillations
initially, but damped out after about 20 minutes. The rotation rate was
Retrofire occurred at the end of the 44th revolution at 8:24:03 a.m. EST on 15 September. This was the first closed-loop, automatic reentry (guided by computer commands directly to the thrusters) in the U.S. space program. Splashdown in the western Atlantic at 24.25 N, 70.00 W, 4.9 km from the target point, occurred at 8:59:35 a.m. EST. The crew was picked up by helicopter and brought to the U.S.S. Guam at 9:23 a.m. and the spacecraft was recovered at 9:58 a.m. Total mission elapsed time was 71:17:08. All primary objectives were accomplished, and the last rerendezvous added to the mission plan due to the favorable fuel supply. Power tool evaluation was not performed due to early termination of EVA and the airglow horizon photography was only partially done due to a fault in the camera. All other experiments were successfully completed.
Spacecraft and Subsystems
The adaptor module was an externally skinned, stringer framed structure, with magnesium stringers and an aluminum alloy frame. The adaptor was composed of two parts, an equipment section at the base and a retrorocket section at the top. The equipment section held fuel and propulsion systems and was isolated from the retrorocket section by a fiber-glass sandwich honeycomb blast shield. The retrorocket section held the re-entry rockets for the capsule.
The reentry module consisted
mainly of the pressurized cabin which held the two Gemini astronauts.
the reentry module from the retrorocket section of the adaptor at its
was a curved silicone elastomer ablative heat shield. The module was
predominantly of titanium and nickle-alloy with beryllium shingles. At
the narrow top of the module was the cylindrical reentry control system
section and above this the rendezvous and recovery section which holds
Control, Propulsion, and
At the time of reentry, the spacecraft would be maneuvered to the appropriate orientation and equipment adaptor section would be detached and jettisoned, exposing the retrorocket module. The retrorockets consisted of four spherical-case polysulfide ammonium perchlorate solid-propellant motors mounted near the center of the reentry adaptor module, each with 11,070 N thrust. They would fire to initiate the spacecraft reentry into the atmosphere, with attitude being maintained by a reentry control system of 16 engines, each with 5.2 N thrust. The retrorocket module would then be jettisonned, exposing the heat shield at the base of the reentry module. Along with the ablative heat shield, thermal protection during reentry was provided by thin Rene 41 radiative shingles at the base of the module and beryllium shingles at the top. Beneath the shingles was a layer of MIN-K insulation and thermoflex blankets. At an altitude of roughly 15,000 meters the astronauts would deploy a 2.4 meter drogue chute from the rendezvous and recovery section. At 3230 meters altitude the crew releases the drogue which extracts the 5.5 meter pilot parachute. The rendezvous and recovery section is released 2.5 seconds later, deploying the 25.6 meter main ring-sail parachute which is stored in the bottom of the section. The spacecraft is then rotated from a nose-up to a 35 degree angle for water landing. At this point a recovery beacon is activated, transmitting via an HF whip antenna mounted near the front of the reentry module.