Gemini 12 was the final flight of the Gemini program. Once complete the next phase of the space program would be in preparation for the moon mission.
After Gemini 12 returned to Earth, President Johnson said regarding the successful conclusion of the Gemini Program:
Today's flight was the culmination of a great team effort, stretching back to 1961, and directly involving more than 25,000 people in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Defense, and other Government agencies; in the universities and other research centers; and in American industry.
Early in 1962, John Glenn made his historic orbital flight and America was in space. Now, nearly 5 years later, we have completed Gemini and we know that America is in space to stay.
With spare parts in short supply for the last Gemini Mission, a spare Atlas rocket was lifting the Agena Target Module from Launch Pad 14, Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell made their way to Launch Pad 19. On their backs were impromptu signs reading: "THE" and "END". This was no where more apparent than just moments after the successful launch, salvage workers were busy dismantling the launch stand for scrap metal.
NASA PHOTO: Technicians prepare to close the hatches of the Gemini 12 spacecraft in the White Room atop Pad 19 after insertion of Astronauts James A. Lovell Jr. (leading), command pilot, and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., pilot.
NASA PHOTO: Florida (south half), Bahama Islands (Andros-Grand Bahamas-Bimini), and Cuba, looking south as seen from Gemini 12 spacecraft on its 15th revolution of the Earth.
NASA PHOTO: Astronaut Edwin Aldrin, pilot for the Gemini 12 flight, stands up in the open hatch of the spacecraft during his extravehicular activity (EVA) on the first day of the four day mission in space. He prepares camera for installation on outside of the spacecraft; Aldrin removes micrometeoroid package for return to the spacecraft
After successfully rendezvousing with the Agena Target Module, they successfully docked. After practicing docking and undocking several times, the next part of the mission was firing the Agena to reach a higher altitude. However, 8 minutes after the Agena was launched, its main engine suffered a momentary fluctuation in thrust and was shut down. Lovell and Aldrin chased and caught the Agena and practiced more docking.
Mission Control re-worked the plan which the Agena rockets were fired and reach the target altitude. They then began a series of EVAs. Gemini XII needed to provide answers to lingering concerns arising from other missions and to demonstrate the ability to reliably predict what astronauts could do successfully during an EVA.
NASA PHOTO: Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., pilot of the Gemini 12 space flight, performs extravehicular activity (EVA) during the second day of the four day mission in space.
Evaluation of various types of body restraints, handholds and workstations both on the Gemini vehicle adapter section, and on the Agena Target Docking Adapter were included. In the end, some lessons were learned from the Gemini EVAs.
The basic design of the Gemini space suit was found not so practical for EVAs. The so-called neutral position of the suit, (i.e. the position that the suit would assume naturally when pressurized) was based on operating spacecraft controls. This meant that the suit was designed for a sitting position. Arms of the suit were positioned to provide optimum access to the overhead controls and any motion moving the limbs out of these neutral positions required force by the astronaut to overcome. To hold a position meant exertion over periods of time. The forces in the arms were particularly large when reaching above shoulder level. In general, the EVA crewmember could not perform sustained tasks below the waist or above the shoulder.