Gemini Earth Photographs

An Epilogue

THE selection of the Gemini photography for this text was not an easy task. Only a few views would be published out of the hundreds of remarkable photos worthy of such status.

As I scanned the scratched and dirty, decade old, "first master" which I have viewed a thousand times, my mind would occasionally wander back to those still vivid sights and sounds of the great epic of Gemini. I could clearly hear again the near euphoric shouts of Ed White as he stepped from Gemini IV into the void, coupled to the steady confident words of Jim McDivitt which told us that all was well. The deep concern in the voices of Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott describing the problems of Gemini VIII as they prepared to terminate their mission. The hesitant and difficult grasp for words by many crews as they attempted to describe the new phenomena and experience to an audience that would never have an opportunity to journey into space. The deep concern in voices of men trying to fix or adjust balky equipment. Gordo Cooper waking Pete Conrad as he clicked away getting more of those wonderful photos of the Himalayas. The occasional "cuss" word that would receive worldwide media coverage, ad nauseam. The last minute changes in photo equipment at the Cape. The confident joy of telling the crew a few hours before lift-off that "all photo systems are Go!" And lastly, the most unique pleasure of being the first to see that unique photography as it came out of our film processors.

I clearly remember that June 1965 day when it all began. We had just finished processing that first roll of Gemini IV film which showed those 16 remarkable mews of Ed Whites spacewalk. We stretched out the roll, and a dozen or so NASA VIPs huddled tightly around the spacewalk photos expressing elation at what they saw. Many are prominently mentioned in this history. As for myself, I stood alone at the other end of the roll quietly looking at photographs of the Earth, seeing things and places never before seen by human eyes. John Brinkmann, Photographic Technology Division Chief, called to me to come down and "see the action." My reply was, "Boss, I think the real action is down here."

With Mercury, space photography was born; with Gemini, it struggled toward maturity so that Apollo space photography would give you and me, indeed the whole world, an opportunity to reach out and practically touch the Moon. But Skylab would again look back toward a troubled Earth, back here, where the "real action" is.

Richard W. Underwood

Thanksgiving Day 1974




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