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Gemini 12, the last spacecraft in the Gemini series and the first to make an automatically controlled reentry into Earth's atmosphere, was launched.
spacecraft and space program
Gemini, any of a series of 12 two-man spacecraft launched into orbit around Earth by the United States between 1964 and 1966. The Gemini (Latin: “Twins”) program was preceded by the Mercury series of one-man spacecraft and was followed by the Apollo series of three-man spacecraft. The Gemini program was chiefly designed to test the ability of astronauts to maneuver their spacecraft by means of manual control. The Gemini series, directed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), helped to develop the techniques for orbital rendezvous and docking with a target vehicle, procedures that were vital to the subsequent Apollo Moon-landing program. It also provided NASA engineers with an opportunity to improve environmental control and electrical power systems of spacecraft. During the Gemini 4 mission (launched June 3, 1965), astronaut Edward H. White performed the first American spacewalk, maneuvering outside the spacecraft for 20 minutes and demonstrating man’s increasing ability to function in space. Gemini 5 (Aug. 21, 1965) completed an eight-day mission, the longest spaceflight undertaken up to that time. Gemini 7 and 6 (Dec. 4 and 15, 1965, respectively) performed the first orbital rendezvous of two manned spacecraft. Gemini 12 (Nov. 11, 1966), the last in the series, made the first automatically controlled reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.
A chronology of spaceflights in the Gemini program is shown in the table.
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Kurt Vonnegut, (born November 11, 1922, Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.—died April 11, 2007, New York, New York), American writer noted for his wryly satirical novels who frequently used postmodern techniques as well as elements of fantasy and science fiction to highlight the horrors and ironies of 20th-century civilization. Much of Vonnegut’s work is marked by an essentially fatalistic worldview that nonetheless embraces modern humanist beliefs.
Vonnegut grew up in Indianapolis in a well-to-do family, although his father, an architect, was unemployed during much of the Great Depression. As a teenager, Vonnegut wrote for his high-school newspaper, and he continued the activity at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he majored in biochemistry before leaving in 1943 to enlist in the U.S. Army. Captured by the Germans during World War II, he was one of the survivors of the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, in February 1945. After the war Vonnegut took graduate courses in anthropology at the University of Chicago while working as a reporter. He was later employed as a public relations writer in upstate New York, but his reservations about what he considered the deceitfulness of the profession led him to pursue fiction writing full-time.
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