August 1, 2018
Gemini VI Space Capsule Moves to Stafford Air & Space Museum
OKLAHOMA CITY — In collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, three Smithsonian Affiliates—the Stafford Air & Space Museum, the Kansas Cosmosphere and the Oklahoma History Center (OHC)—are pleased to announce the relocation of the Gemini VI space capsule to the Stafford Air & Space Museum located in Weatherford, Okla. The Stafford Museum, founded by and dedicated in honor of Oklahoma native, test pilot and astronaut Lieutenant General Thomas P. Stafford, exhibits thousands of items that display the worldwide progression of aviation and space flight.
After months of discussions with the Stafford Museum, the OHC made the request to the National Air and Space Museum and recommended that the object move to the Stafford. “While we greatly value the opportunity to interpret the Gemini VI and have created a highly visible role for the spacecraft at the History Center, we have concluded that the Stafford Museum could provide a scope and depth of education focus that would further maximize the impact and preservation of this historic space artifact and its unique story,” said Dan Provo, director of the OHC.
The Cosmosphere, an internationally recognized space and science center located in Hutchinson, Kan., will provide the logistical and installation support for this move. One of the first facilities to become a Smithsonian Affiliate, the Cosmosphere was responsible for the conservation and relocation of the Gemini VI to the OHC and built the custom exhibit case that now houses the spacecraft.
“We are delighted that three Smithsonian Affiliates have come together to find the best place to share the story of the Gemini VI for generations of learners," said Myriam Springuel, director of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and Smithsonian Affiliations. "This collaboration demonstrates the strength of our Affiliate network and our collective dedication to making an impact in local communities with enriching artifacts and educational programs.”
The Gemini VI mission, manned by General Stafford and Captain Walter M. “Wally” Schirra Jr., achieved the first space rendezvous, keeping the Gemini VI-A spacecraft within 1 foot (30 cm) of the sister Gemini VII spacecraft in December 1965. The mission priorities were to demonstrate on-time launch procedures, closed-loop rendezvous capabilities and stationkeeping techniques with Gemini VII. Other objectives were to evaluate the spacecraft reentry guidance capabilities, conduct spacecraft systems tests and complete four experiments. This mission was originally designated Gemini VI and scheduled for launch on October 25 but was canceled when the Agena target vehicle failed to go into orbit. The Gemini VI-A flight lasted 26 hours and 16 orbits.
After the mission was completed, NASA transferred the spacecraft to the Smithsonian in 1968. Shortly thereafter, the St. Louis Science Center, also a Smithsonian Affiliate, exhibited the capsule until it was transferred on a long-term loan to the Oklahoma History Center, coinciding with the opening of the museum on November 16, 2005.
The Stafford Museum is owned and operated by the City of Weatherford and is located at 3000 E. Logan Road in Weatherford, Okla. It is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For additional information, call 580-772-5871.
The Oklahoma History Center is located at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive in Oklahoma City. It is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please visit www.okhistory.org/historycenter.
The Oklahoma History Center, located at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive in Oklahoma City, is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society and is an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives and is an accredited member of the American Association of Museums. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.