The sign accompanying the Gemini ejection seat. It reads
The ejection seat displayed to the right is an actual unit removed from a
Gemini spacecraft. The Gemini spacecraft used these rocket propelled seats to
provide an emergency escape route for the astronauts in case their rocket
malfunctioned during launch.
Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra nearly had
to use their ejection seats during an attempted launch of their Gemini VI spacecraft in
December, 1965. Just as their Titan
II rocket engines ignited
on the launch pad, an electrical connector improperly disconnected, shutting
the engines down before the rocket began to lift from the pad. Technically,
the astronauts should have ejected from the potentially explosive abort.
Making a split second judgment, the astronauts did not fire the ejection seats,
and stayed with the spacecraft. This quick, cool, and calm saved the Gemini
from damage, and allowed the Gemini VI crew to be successfully
launched just three days later.