STAFFORD'S FLOWN GEMINI 6 HEAT SHIELD SEGMENT.
A ½-inch long circular heat shield segment removed from the Gemini 6 spacecraft. Encased in a ¾-inch lucite cylinder.
With THOMAS P. STAFFORD'S signed provenance letter, reading: "Enclosed with this letter is a segment of heat shield removed from my Gemini 6 spacecraft. This segment became a part of history when Gemini 6 performed the world's first manned space flight rendezvous with the Gemini 7 spacecraft on December 15, 1965. Gemini 6 was my first space flight after being selected as part of the second group of NASA astronauts in 1962. Commander of Gemini 6 was Wally Schirra, a member of the 'Original 7' astronauts selected back in 1959. Wally and I returned from our earth orbital rendezvous mission on December 16, 1965. The heat shield segment turned black due to the intense heat generated during our return through the earth's atmosphere. This flight proved that orbital rendezvous was indeed possible, which was a critical step to enable the Apollo Program to accomplish President John F. Kennedy's goal of making the first lunar landing before the end of the 1960s."