Gemini 8: Neil Armstrong's close call on his first mission to space

Gemini 8: Neil Armstrong's Close Call On His First Mission To Space

You know Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, it's sort of his claim to fame. But you probably didn't know that Armstrong had a knack for avoiding space related death, which is a coveted skill when you're an astronaut.

Apart from almost dying during a training flight before landing on the moon, he was command pilot on Gemini 8 - the only NASA mission to be aborted in an emergency. This was way before Apollo 13.

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On Gemini 8, Armstrong was launched with David Scott in March of 1966 for a three day mission. There was a spacewalk planned, but it never happened because their spacecraft started spinning out of control.

The astronauts were pretty much trapped in a gravitron, except in space and on asteroids. They were out of contact with NASA so there was no way to tell Houston they had a problem. So, Armstrong made the tough call to disengage with their training vehicle, which actually made things worse.

Armstrong finally took manual control of the spacecraft, switched to the landing control system and brought them out of the dangerous spin, but they used almost all of the fuel they needed to get back to Earth. Armstrong managed to use the fuel they had left to man a successful reentry back to Earth - with no radio and out of the NASA tracking range.

Click through to see more from Armstrong's successful mission to the moon:

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Apollo 11 Moon Landing
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Gemini 8: Neil Armstrong's close call on his first mission to space
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1754: US Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, walking on the Moon July 20 1969. Taken during the first Lunar landing of the Apollo 11 space mission by NASA. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)
Photograph of Astronaut Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 space mission. Dated 1969. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY: The crew of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission, the astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin Aldrin are in quarantine after their return from the moon in the United States in Luly 1969. (Photo by Frederic CASTEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 21: Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, was launched on 16th July 1969 and Neil Armstrong and Aldrin became the first and second men to walk on the Moon on 20th July 1969. The third member of the crew, Command Module pilot Michael Collins, remained in lunar orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin were on the surface. Aldrin was the Lunar Module pilot on the mission. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
376713 11: (FILE PHOTO) A view of the Earth appears over the Lunar horizon as the Apollo 11 Command Module comes into view of the Moon before Astronatus Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin Jr. leave in the Lunar Module, Eagle, to become the first men to walk on the Moon's surface. The 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon mission is celebrated July 20, 1999. (Photo by NASA/Newsmakers)
UNITED STATES - MAY 30: Aldrin is shown beside the foot of the Lunar Module. Apollo 11, carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong - Commander, Michael Collins - Command Module pilot and Edwin Aldrin - Lunar Module pilot, was the first manned lunar landing mission. It was launched on 16th July 1969 and Armstrong and Aldrin became the first and second men to walk on the moon on 20th July 1969. Collins remained in lunar orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin were on the surface. The astronauts returned to Earth on 24th July 1969. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
IN SPACE - JULY 11: The American Flag Is Planted On The Lunar Surface By The Men Of Apollo 11 In July 1969. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 08: Aldrin is shown deploying the Passive Seismic Experiments Package (PSEP) on the lunar surface. The PSEP was one of the experiments that were carried out during the lunar landing missions. Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, was launched on 16th July 1969 with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin �Buzz� Aldrin and Michael Collins on board, and Armstrong and Aldrin became the first and second men to walk on the Moon on 20th July 1969. Collins, the Command Module pilot, remained in lunar orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin were on the surface. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 17: Aldrin became the second man to walk on the Moon after he stepped off this ladder on 20th July 1969. The picture was taken by Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon. The third member of the Apollo 11 crew, Michael Collins, remained in lunar orbit in the Apollo Command and Service Module while Armstrong and Aldrin were on the surface. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
The Apollo Lunar Module known as the Eagle descends onto the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 mission, 20th July 1969. This is a composite image comprised of two separate shots. (Photo by Space Frontiers/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A television screen grab shows the members of mission control waving flags and celebrating the splashdown and return of the crew of the Apollo 11, Texas, July 1969. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
Apollo 11 Splashdown - Hushed crowd watches on mobile TV setup at 53d St. and Park Ave., as moon men return. (Photo By: Jack Smith/NY Daily News via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 17: The Apollo 11 rocket is on its mobile launch platform just after roll out from the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Centre, Cape Canaveral, Florida, on its way to Launch Complex 39A. Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, was launched on 16th July 1969 with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin �Buzz� Aldrin and Michael Collins on board, and Armstrong and Aldrin became the first and second men to walk on the Moon on 20th July 1969. Collins, the Command Module pilot, remained in lunar orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin were on the surface. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 15: The Apollo 11 launch vehicle is on its mobile launch platform just after roll out from the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Centre, Cape Canaveral, Florida, on its way to Launch Complex 39A. Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, was launched on 16th July 1969 with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin �Buzz� Aldrin and Michael Collins on board, and Armstrong and Aldrin became the first and second men to walk on the Moon on 20th July 1969. Collins, the Command Module pilot, remained in lunar orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin were on the surface. The massive Saturn V rocket, over 100 metres tall, was the largest rocket ever built and was used on all the Apollo missions to the Moon. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 08: Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin �Buzz� Aldrin standing by a boiler plate Apollo capsule on the deck of the NASA vessel Retriever during water egress training in the Gulf of Mexico. Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, was launched on 16th July 1969 and Neil Armstrong and Aldrin became the first and second men to walk on the Moon on 20th July 1969. Command Module pilot Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin were on the surface. The astronauts returned to Earth on 24th July 1969. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JULY 24: US Navy pararescueman Lt. Clancey Hatleberg disinfects Apollo 11 Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. after getting into the life raft during recovery operations on July 24, 1969 at the completion of their successful lunar landing mission. (Photo by 8383/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 14: This picture was taken by the Apollo 11 astronauts on their journey to the moon. Spain, North Africa and the Middle East can clearly be seen. Apollo 11, carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin �Buzz� Aldrin and Michael Collins, was the first manned lunar landing mission. It was launched on 16th July 1969 and Armstrong and Aldrin became the first and second men to walk on the moon on 21st July 1969. Collins remained in lunar orbit. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 29: This view of the Earth appearing above the lunar horizon was taken by astronauts during the Apollo 11 mission. Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, was launched on 16th July 1969 with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin �Buzz� Aldrin and Michael Collins on board, and Armstrong and Aldrin became the first and second men to walk on the Moon on 20th July 1969. Collins, the Command Module pilot, remained in lunar orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin were on the surface. The astronauts returned safely to Earth on 24th July 1969. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
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Only instead of landing in the U.S., Armstrong and Scott's capsule splashed down 1,000 miles south of Japan, with two healthy spacemen inside. We're proud of you Neil Armstrong!

Most countries would be afraid to have a pilot with such an unlucky history be the first man to walk on the moon, but not the U.S.

More World Space Week coverage from AOL.com:
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