Gemini 6 astronaut Thomas Stafford, 1965.
© National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society
The Gemini programme, which commenced in 1962, was NASA's second manned spaceflight initiative. It aimed to build on the existing Mercury programme by developing a spacecraft with a two-man crew. Gemini 6, with astronauts Stafford and Walter Schirra on board, was launched on 15th December 1965. It was the fifth mision in the programme and achieved the first succesful rendezvous with another orbiting spacecraft, Gemini 7, manoeuvring to within two metres of the other craft. Stafford also flew on Gemini 9 in June 1966, Apollo 10 in May 1969 and the joint American/Soviet Apollo/Soyuz mision in 1975.