On April 9th, 1964 the Gemini-Titan 2 was launched from complex 19 at the Cape Canaveral USAF Missile Test Range in Florida. It was unmanned yet drew a lot of attention by "other intelligence's". Who or what were they? Your guess is as good as any.
(Photo: Gemini Titan 2, Credit: NASA)
I was a young Designer working for the Titan ll Launch Operations Team in Hangar "U". I was assigned to work with a bright engineer called Chuck. We had a problem happening with the first stage of the Titan and called it "POGO". Several previous test flights were flown and the effect showed up at lift off. It acted like a POGO stick (up and down motion) as the vehicle rose into the sky. NASA and the USAF determined the effect to be dangerous for any of the two astronauts chosen to fly in the Gemini capsule. The booster would not meet Man Rated restrictions by NASA and the USAF.
Chuck and I were to attach measurements to the booster and determine how or what could be done to stop the POGO effect. Several modifications had been made and this flight would prove if we were approaching the correction of the difficulty. The capsule had a canned man which is sometimes called a "black box" inside the astronaut compartment to help solve the problem by collecting data.
The rocket lifted off and began to return data which indicated that the modifications Chuck and I had designed had reduced the POGO effect significantly. Everyone was delighted to receive the preliminary information.
As the Gemini Capsule entered orbit, the RCA world tracking team began to realize that "our" capsule was not alone as viewed through their incoming telemetry, visual theodolite and other high powered optical data. Our capsule had four 'visitors". The RCA team was ordered to run a recheck of the situation to be certain ghost images were not the cause. The Titan ll stages were also excluded as causing the images.
NASA, the USAF and Martin-Marietta who built the Titan ll were all puzzled and just about scratching their heads in unison. After much huddling and discussion the intelligent determination was that we had other physical objects up there with our Gemini capsule. Total silence filled the launch control area. A few whispers were heard but nothing else. Then a brash young member of the team said the words that caused faces to turn to horror. I said, "What about UFOs?" It was as if I had taken the Lords name in vain. The silence deepened as almost everyone present was staring at me. I felt like a child caught with his/her hand in the cookie jar. Cold stares came at me from the NASA Brass and USAF Officers. Actually, the only obvious answer was what I had so blatantly stated, they were UFOs! I slipped back into my assignments and remained a very interested and quiet observer.
Several hours after the objects departed their single orbit rendezvous with the Gemini capsule, a strange shadowy group of personnel arrived on scene. They were not faces of those who had worked at Cape Canaveral for any length of time. Old time Cape workers like myself knew a stranger when one showed up in our work area. Who they were no one seemed to know or if they did know did not identify them. I made an attempt to I.D. them and ran into a brick wall of silence. One thing was for certain, this group was at the Cape for
no other reason other than the Gemini Titan mission and its guests.
A week or so later, I was talking to an old friend called Vince. He was a Pan American Security guard at the Cape and got around to all launch complex areas. Vince told me that he transported several men to the Cape Canaveral Skid Strip (aircraft runway) at the time all the Gemini activity had taken place. He heard a younger man call another older person Colonel. Vince had a good pair of eyes when he wore his glasses and told me they had top secret security clearance badges he had only seen once before. The badges appeared to have letters and a number on them. He thought that he had seen MG, MJ or M something with a number 12 marked on their badges. He observed them from across the car roof as they entered his security cruiser and did not observe the badges close up. They wore no uniforms yet acted as if they were military. They spoke of returning the Washington, DC and only one other word was unclear to him. Vince said it sounded like Akarius or may have had a "Q" involved in the spelling (was it Aquarius?). Vince also noted that they wore matching lapel pins that may have been similar to those worn by secret service officers during the several visits by President Kennedy and Eisenhower in past years.
To make a long story short, NASA, USAF, Pentagon, White House, NSA etc., all determined that it had to be eventually explained as normal activity. The hungry dogs of the mass media who ate broken glass and razor blades to sharpen their questions were awaiting the NASA news conference eagerly willing to slash away. The official NASA determination was that the objects were the torn particles or remains of the Titan upper stage that apparently entered orbit with the Gemini capsule. I was at the news conference and I nearly began to laugh. How could a broken stage overtake the capsule and stop slightly ahead of the capsule to accompany it an entire orbit around the earth? But I held my laugh to save my job. A NASA PIO Officer held his breath hoping my mouth would stay shut. It did and I remained in my job to record other astounding events that will be in my book.
Readers Note: Also read the Interfering with Atlas incident and note that it happened also in 1964.