“As we rode, the big blue eyes of Al Shepard bored into each of us looking for any sign of weakness, any indication that one of these rookies was not ready to go. I looked back with a defiant smile, ‘Not you, Big Al, or anyone else is getting my seat!” Ed Gibson on the van ride to the pad.
In space, on the day the second crew left Skylab, which was September 25, 1973, the orbital workshop began it’s third unmanned period.
“I felt like that mission was from my viewpoint the highlight of my career, as being the best astronaut that I could be. I felt like our crew was the best crew we could be because we had done the best we could. We got sick; we couldn’t help that. We bundled along. And then we went normally, and then we went to overdrive to catch up, and then we passed.” Alan Bean
From the previous episode, it was decided that the name of Gemini VI would be changed to Gemini VI-a to distinguish it from the originally planned mission whose objective was to rendezvous with the Agena target vehicle. Gemini VII would be launched first before Gemini VI-a and it would be considered the target vehicle effectively replacing the Agena. After Gemini VII lifted off, Gemini VI-a would be transferred to the launch pad and prepared to launch as soon as possible. After Gemini VI-a rendezvoused with Gemini VII, it would return to earth before Gemini VII.