Gemini 12 was the tenth and final flight of the Gemini series, which bridged the Mercury and Apollo programs. This mission, carrying astronauts Jim Lovell and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, was scheduled to perform rendezvous and docking with the Agena target vehicle, to conduct three ExtraVehicular Activity (EVA) operations, to conduct a tethered stationkeeping exercise, to perform docked maneuvers using the Agena propulsion system to change orbit, and demonstrate an automatic reentry. There were also 14 scientific, medical, and technological experiments on board.
Gemini 12 was launched from Complex 19 on 11 November 1966 at 3:46:33 p.m. EST (20:46:33.419 UT) and inserted into a 160.8 x 270.6 km Earth orbit at 3:52:40. At 7:32 p.m. rendezvous was achieved with the Gemini Agena Target Vehicle (GATV), which had been launched an hour and a half before Gemini 12. Docking with the GATV was accomplished 28 minutes later, at 4:14 ground elapsed time (GET) on the third orbit, relying heavily on visual sightings due to problems with the onboard radar. During insertion of the GATV into orbit an anomaly was noted in the primary propulsion system, so the plan to use the GATV to lift the docked spacecraft into a higher orbit was abandoned. Instead, two phasing maneuvers using the GATV secondary propulsion system were accomplished to allow the spacecraft to rendezvous with the November 12 total eclipse over South America at about 9:20 a.m. EST with the crew taking pictures through the spacecraft windows.