NAME: Edward H. White II
BIRTHPLACE AND DATE: White was born November 14, 1930, in San Antonio, Texas.
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Military Academy in 1952. Master of Science degree from the University of Michigan in 1959., Honorary Doctorate in Astronautics from the University of Michigan in 1965.
EDUCATION: White received flight training in Florida and Texas, then spent three years in Germany with an Air Force fighter squadron, flying F-86 and F-100 fighter-bombers. In 1959 he attended the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and later was assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as experimental test pilot with the Aeronautical System Division.
NASA selected White as an astronaut in 1962. He and Commander James A. McDivitt were assigned to the four-day Gemini 4 mission that launched on June 3, 1965. On the first day of the flight, White made America’s first spacewalk, a 21-minute EVA during which he manoeuvred on the end of a 25-foot tether using a hand-held gas gun. During the remainder of the flight, McDivitt and White completed twelve scientific and medical experiments.
White and fellow Apollo 1 astronauts, Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee, died in a spacecraft fire during a launch pad test on Jan. 27, 1967.
AWARDS AND HONORS: Air Force Commendation Medal; NASA Exceptional Service Medal; Arnold Air Society JFK Trophy for 1966; Air Force Systems Command Aerospace Primus Club Award; General Thomas D. White United States Air Force Space Trophy for 1965; selected one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of America in 1965.
First American walk in space; tested spacesuit and ability to manoeuvre.
The second manned and first long-duration mission in the Gemini program. Major objectives of the four-day mission were demonstrating and evaluating the performance of spacecraft systems in a long-duration flight and evaluating effects on the crew of prolonged exposure to the space environment. Secondary objectives included demonstrating extravehicular activity (EVA) in space, conducting stationkeeping and rendezvous maneuvers with the second stage of the launch vehicle, performing significant in-plane and out-of-plane maneuvers, demonstrating the ability of the orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS) to back up the retrorockets, and executing 11 experiments. The stationkeeping exercise was terminated at the end of the first revolution because most of the OAMS propellant allocated for the exercise had been used; further efforts would jeopardize primary mission objectives and could mean the cancellation of several secondary objectives. No rendezvous was attempted. The only other major problem to mar the mission was the inadvertent alteration of the computer memory during the 48th revolution in an attempt to correct an apparent malfunction. This made the planned computer-controlled reentry impossible and required an open-loop ballistic reentry. All other mission objectives were met. The flight crew began preparing for EVA immediately after terminating the stationkeeping exercise. Although preparations went smoothly, McDivitt decided to delay EVA for one revolution, both because of the high level of activity required and because deletion of the rendezvous attempt reduced the tightness of the schedule. Ground control approved the decision. The spacecraft hatch was opened at 4 hours 18 minutes into the flight and White exited 12 minutes later, using a hand-held maneuvering gun. White reentered the spacecraft 20 minutes after leaving it. The hatch was closed at 4 hours 54 minutes ground elapsed time. Drifting flight was maintained for the next two and one-half days to conserve propellant. The spacecraft landed in the Atlantic Ocean about 725 km east of Cape Kennedy - some 65 km from its nominal landing point. The crew boarded a helicopter 34 minutes after landing and was transported to the prime recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Wasp. Spacecraft recovery was completed at 2:28 p.m., a little more than 100 hours after Gemini 4 had been launched. Gemini 4 was the first mission to be controlled from the mission control center in Houston.
The space walk was hurriedly included after the Russian first in Voskhod 2. White seemed to have a lot more fun than Leonov and McDivitt took the pictures that came to symbolize man in space. With this flight the US finally started to match Russian flight durations.
Primary objectives of the mission were demonstrating manned orbital flight for approximately 14 days and evaluating the physiological effects of a long-duration flight on the crew. Among the secondary objectives were providing a rendezvous target for the Gemini VI-A spacecraft, stationkeeping with the second stage of the launch vehicle and with spacecraft No. 6, conducting 20 experiments, using lightweight pressure suits, and evaluating the spacecraft reentry guidance capability. All objectives were successfully achieved with the exception of two experiments lost because of equipment failure. Shortly after separation from the launch vehicle, the crew maneuvered the spacecraft to within 60 feet of the second stage and stationkept for about 15 minutes. The exercise was terminated by a separation maneuver, and the spacecraft was powered down in preparation for the 14-day mission. The crew performed five maneuvers during the course of the mission to increase orbital lifetime and place the spacecraft in proper orbit for rendezvous with spacecraft No. 6. Rendezvous was successfully accomplished during the 11th day in orbit, with spacecraft No. 7 serving as a passive target for spacecraft No. 6. About 45 hours into the mission, Lovell removed his pressure suit. He again donned his suit at 148 hours, while Borman removed his. Some 20 hours later Lovell again removed his suit, and both crewmen flew the remainder of the mission without suits, except for the rendezvous and reentry phases. With three exceptions, the spacecraft and its systems performed nominally throughout the entire mission. The delayed-time telemetry playback tape recorder malfunctioned about 201hours after liftoff, resulting in the loss of all delayed-time telemetry data for the remainder of the mission. Two fuel cell stacks showed excessive degradation late in the flight and were taken off the line; the remaining four stacks furnished adequate electrical power until reentry. Two attitude thrusters performed poorly after 283 hours in the mission. Retrofire occurred exactly on time, and reentry and landing were nominal. The spacecraft missed the planned landing point by only 10.3 km miles, touching down on December 18. The crew arrived at the prime recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Wasp, half an hour later. The spacecraft was recovered half an hour after the crew.
Far surpassing the Gemini 5 flight, Gemini 7 set a manned spaceflight endurance record that would endure for years. The incredibly boring mission, was made more uncomfortable by the extensive biosensors. This was somewhat offset by the soft spacesuits (used only once) and permission to spend most of the time in long johns. The monotony was broken just near the end by the rendezvous with Gemini 6.
The first manned flight of the Apollo CSM, the Apollo C category mission, was planned for the last quarter of 1966. Numerous problems with the Apollo Block I spacecraft resulted in a flight delay to February 1967. The crew of Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee, was killed in a fire while testing their capsule on the pad on 27 January 1967, still weeks away from launch. The designation AS-204 was used by NASA for the flight at the time; the designation Apollo 1 was applied retroactively at the request of Grissom's widow.