On This Day: Gemini V spacemen return home

Gordon Cooper and Charles 'Pete' Conrad returned to America after spending a week in space

On This Day: Gemini V spacemen return home

AUGUST 30, 1965: Two record-breaking Nasa astronauts returned to America on this day in 1965 after becoming the first men to exceed a week in space on board Gemini V.

Gordon Cooper and Charles 'Pete' Conrad arrived ashore aboard a naval ship after splashing down in the mid-Atlantic a day earlier.

They smashed the previous Soviet endurance record by three hours after spending seven days, 22 hours and 55 minutes in space.

Its continued stay in orbit helped Nasa prepare for the 1969 moon mission, which scientists believed would take as total of eight days to travel there, land and return.

British Pathé footage shows Cooper, then aged 38, and Conrad, 35, departing from Cape Canaveral, Florida on August 21, 1965.

But after arriving, Gemini V – the 11th manned American space flight – almost had to return to earth early.

Cooper, who became the first astronaut to visit space twice after making the last ever solo mission in 1963, discovered a shortage of pressure in the craft’s fuel cells.

Ground tests ensured they could stay, but they were limited in the tasks they could carry out due to the shortage of generated electricity.

The pair were able to take some high-resolution photographs and carry out regular medical checks on each other.

But joker Conrad, who went on to become the third man to walk on the moon during the second landing in 1969, complained that he had not brought along a book.

Also, due to the loss of power the pair became very cold – even with their cooling systems in their spacesuits switched off – and had difficulty sleeping.

Yet in spite of this, medical tests showed that the astronauts’ bodies were coping well with being in space for an extended period.

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After re-entering the atmosphere on August 29, they splashed down 80 miles from where they had planned.

Although, as the U.S. Department of Defence had deployed 10,265 personnel, 114 aircraft and 19 ships to support the mission, they were easily found.

They were hoisted from the sea by a helicopter launched from USS Champlain, which returned them to Florida.