Gemini XII Media stories... Apr 13, 2006 14:12:02 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Apr 13, 2006 14:12:02 GMT -6
News stories and media coverage of the Gemini XII Exhibit at the Adler Planetarium
Gemini 12 capsule docks at Adler
Astronaut James Lovell made famous the phrase "Houston, we have a problem.'' That was during the near-disastrous Apollo 13 mission, celebrated in a best-selling book and hit film.
On Monday? No problem, Chicago.
Another space ship commanded by Lovell -- the Gemini 12 capsule -- was carefully lifted by crane from the back of a truck and gingerly slid through the doors of the Adler Planetarium.
"If it had been a windy day, we would have been in trouble,'' said Adler president Paul Knappenberger.
On a beautiful spring morning, the craft that roared into the heavens some 40 years ago landed safely in a new and, Adler officials hope, long-term home.
Lovell, who lives on the North Shore, has become something of a living logo for the Adler as it tries to broaden its appeal from planets to people -- specifically, space heroes. The 4,500-pound capsule will be combined with other Lovell artifacts to serve as a centerpiece for a new exhibit on man's efforts -- past and future -- to reach the moon.
Ship in disrepair at NASA museum
As Lovell tells it, the capsule was a forlorn and mostly ignored artifact at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. "No one was even looking at it anymore,'' said Lovell, who helped secure a long-term loan of the craft to the Adler.
But first, Gemini 12 needed some restoration. For that, officials turned to the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, which has become something of a fix-it shop for old spaceships, having refurbished a handful of NASA craft. During the last six months, the capsule was cleaned, and a couple dozen parts -- such as a joystick used to control the ship -- were tracked down in government warehouses and reunited with Gemini 12.
The outside was corroded, said Cosmosphere technology director Jack Graber -- temperatures had reached some 8,000 degrees when it re-entered the atmosphere on Nov. 15, 1966. Gases had also built up inside the craft -- some from decaying parts, some from moisture left behind by Lovell and partner "Buzz" Aldrin, who shared 94 hours inside.
As was typical of the thinking at the time, preservationists had wrapped the capsule in plexiglass, which may have kept fingerprints off it, but also accelerated deterioration, Graber said.
For the team of four restoration experts, "It took a little bit of work,'' Graber said. Knappenberger put the tab at between $30,000 and $40,000.
The capsule looks well-worn, and that's the idea. Rather than restore it to the original, pre-flight condition, Adler officials wanted it to look as it did when it was plucked from the Atlantic in 1966.
Full story here from the Chicago Sun-Times: www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-gemini11.html