America's second spacewalk was nearly fatal for Gene Cernan!

    Gene Cernan's Gemini 9A Flown Complete EVA Checklist consisting of twenty-two printed light cardstock pages of 4.5" x 8" with handwritten notes interspersed, bound with loose-leaf rings between two heavy card covers. The part number of "CF55019-17" and serial number of "11" are notated on the front. Both covers and tabs on each page are covered with Velcro so that the pages would attach to the left-hand cover as they were flipped. There is an additional binder ring attached the back cover, likely for hanging in the capsule. This very checklist was used by astronaut Gene Cernan aboard the Gemini 9-A spacecraft to conduct his famous, and nearly fatal, spacewalk in June 1966.

    Cernan's spacewalk was the second EVA ever attempted by an American astronaut. (Edward White was first during the Gemini 4 mission.) In spite of the fact that very little was known about the unique challenges of extravehicular activity, NASA still planned a highly ambitious set of tests that nearly led to Cernan's demise. During his spacewalk, Cernan quickly found that everything he did in zero gravity took much more energy and time to accomplish. He fought the dynamics of his snake-like 25 foot long umbilical, the lack of functional hand holds, a rigid space suit, dangerously sharp edges on the spacecraft, and poor communications. His suit's environmental system became so overtaxed his helmet visor completely fogged over making it impossible to see what he was doing. Sweat poured into Cernan's eyes, and his heart raced to more than three times its normal rate. In spite of these challenges, Cernan was able to make his way to the back of the Gemini and don the Astronaut Mobility Unit (AMU) rocket powered backpack that was the primary objective of his spacewalk. After attaching himself to the AMU, Cernan established another space "first" by becoming the first astronaut to detach from the oxygen lifeline of his spacecraft and surviving with only the oxygen supplied from his backpack. But again, the complex elements of zero gravity took Cernan to the edge of his body's capacity, and the AMU flight test had to be aborted. A modified version of the AMU, called a Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) was finally tested during Shuttle mission STS-41B, eighteen years later!

    Cernan then struggled to get himself back into the spacecraft, which proved far more difficult than it had been in training. So difficult, in fact, that Gemini 9A Command Pilot Thomas Stafford stated in a later interview that there was a plan discussed to make re-entry with Cernan attached by the umbilical cord if necessary! Finally, after more than two hours, and 1½ orbits of the Earth, a totally exhausted Gene Cernan made it back into the safety of his spacecraft. In that short time, he had lost nearly ten pounds and, after the mission, sweat could be poured from his space suit boots.

    Cernan's dramatic Gemini 9A EVA proved to be a milestone event in the history of spacewalking. It produced profound changes in how all future spacewalks would be conducted and trained for. New space suit designs, the use of liquid cooling garments, the use of underwater training, anti-fogging methods for helmet visors, and the evolution in the use and design of tethers, umbilicals, restraints, and hand-holds were developed based on Cernan's Gemini 9 spacewalking experience. This checklist is complete. From the personal collection of Captain Gene Cernan accompanied by written authentication by Cernan.

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    March, 2008
    25th-26th Tuesday-Wednesday
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