STAFFORD'S GEMINI 9 LAUNCH COVERSIGNED.
Postal envelope with an Orbit Covers cachet featuring the Gemini 9 "crews" and related mission events. Cape Canaveral postmark dated 3 June 1966, the launch date of Gemini 9. The envelope is displayed between paragraphs of a Typed Letter Signed by THOMAS STAFFORD.
THOMAS P. STAFFORD'S signed provenance letter reads in part: "The Gemini 9 envelope displayed below is from my personal collection.... It has images of the first crew for Gemini 9, Commander Elliott See and Charles Bassett. Sadly, they were both killed in a T-38 crash near the McDonnell manufacturing plant at St. Louis where the Gemini 9 spacecraft was being built. I was then named commander of Gemini 9 which was my second space mission with Eugene Cernan as pilot.
As with my first space mission, an Agena rendezvous target vehicle failed to reach orbit prior to our Gemini 9 launch. The NASA team was able to fly a smaller vehicle known as the ATDA, or Augmented Target Docking Adapter. A protective aerodynamic shroud failed release completely preventing a planned docking. I called the ATDA an angry alligator during the flight. Gene was able to make a spacewalk on Gemini 9 but his space suit helmet visor fogged-up restricting his vision. Only after some very tense moments both in space and with controllers on the ground was Gene finally able to climb back into Gemini 9. We returned to earth on June 6, 1966...."