From Gemini 6 on 16th December 1965…
On December 16, 1965, while in orbit above planet Earth, the crew of Gemini 6 added another milestone to their already historic mission.
Astronauts Wally Schirra and Thomas Stafford reported sighting an object, a satellite, in a “polar orbit…traveling North to South.”
“Stand by, he’s trying to signal something,” reported Schirra.
The next thing heard at Mission Control was a rendition of Jingle Bells performed by the astronauts using instruments which they had smuggled onboard.
The story is well known. The harmonica and string of bells are now housed at The Smithsonian, and the incident is believed to be the first time human beings ever played music in outer space.
But no recording of the song has ever been made available. Until now.
I’ve been looking all over the Internet for this recording for more than a year with no success. So I started asking for help.
KUOW reporter Phyllis Fletcher pointed me toward NASA’s Media Resource Center in Houston Texas.
After digging around their Web site and calling the phone tree at Johnson Space Center, I eventually reached Librarian Jody Russell. Her contacts in the Audio Department pointed me to the online archive for the entire Gemini 6 and 7 joint mission.
They narrowed it down to 8 audio files for me, which covered about 33 hours of the mission. They also provided me with links to mission transcripts that I could use as reference to find the song.
The message from NASA ended with “…it’s in there somewhere.”
And it was.