|Gemini preflight - Gemini spacecraft being prepared in the shop.|
Credit: NASA. 42,452 bytes. 395 x 480 pixels.
It was obvious to NASA that there was a big gap of three to four years between the last Mercury flight and the first scheduled Apollo flight. There would therefore be no experience in the US in understanding the problems of orbital manoeuvring, rendezvous, docking, lifting re-entry, and space walking before the Apollo flights, which required all of these to be successfully accomplished to complete the lunar landing mission.
Gemini began as Mercury Mark II to fill this gap. The concept was to enlarge the Mercury capsule's basic design to accommodate two crew, provide it with orbital manoeuvring capability, use existing boosters to launch it and an existing upper rocket stage as a docking target. The latest aircraft engineering was exploited , resulting in a modularised design that provided easy access to and changeout of equipment mounted external to the crew's pressure vessel.
In many ways the Gemini design was ahead of that of the Apollo, since the project began two years later . The crew station layout was similar to that of the latest military fighters; the capsule was equipped with ejection seats, inertial navigation, the pilot's traditional 8-ball attitude display, and radar. The escape tower used for Mercury was deleted; the propellants used in the Titan II launch vehicle, while toxic, corrosive, poisonous, and self-igniting, did not explode in the manner of the Atlas or Saturn LOX/Kerosene combination. The ejection seats served as the crew escape method in the lower atmosphere, just as in a high-performance aircraft. The seats were also needed for the original landing mode, which involved deployment of a huge inflated Rogallo wing (ancestor of today's hang gliders) with a piloted landing on skids at Edwards Dry Lake. In the event, the wing could not be made to deploy reliably before flights began, so the capsule made a parachute-borne water landing, much to the astronauts' chagrin.
All around the Gemini was considered the ultimate 'pilot's spacecraft', and it was also popular with engineers because of its extremely light weight. The capsule allowed recover of a crew of two for only 50% more than the Mercury capsule weight, and half of the weight per crew member of the Apollo design. The penalty was obvious - it was christened the 'Gusmobile' since diminutive Gus Grissom was the only astronaut who was said to be able to fit into it. The crew member was crammed in, shoulder to shoulder with his partner, his helmet literally scrunched against the hatch, which could be opened for space walks. With the crew unable to fully stretch out unless an EVA was scheduled, living in the capsule was literally painful on the long missions (Gemini 5 and 7). Getting back into the seat and getting the hatch closed in an inflated suit in zero gravity was problematic and would have been impossible if the spacewalking astronaut was incapacitated in even a minor way.
Early on it was proposed that the Gemini could be used for manned circumlunar or lunar missions at a fraction of the cost and much earlier than Apollo. Truth be told, a Gemini launched atop a Titan 3E or Saturn IVB Centaur could have accomplished a circumlunar flight as early as 1966 and, using earth orbit rendezvous techniques, a landing at least a year before Apollo. But the capsule, while perhaps suited as a ferry vehicle to space stations, would have been quite marginal for the lunar mission due to the cramped accommodation. But mainly NASA was fully committed to the Apollo program, which was grounded on a minimum three man crew and minimum 10,000 pound command module weight.
|Gemini6 in orbit - Gemini6 in orbit view e|
Credit: NASA. 13,559 bytes. 260 x 247 pixels.
Gemini was to have continued to fly into the 1970's as the return capsule of the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory program. However with the MOL's cancellation in 1969 work at McDonnell came to an end and the last models of the finest spacecraft ever built were scrapped.
Unit Price $ : 13.00 million. Craft.Crew Size: 2. Total Length: 5.7 m. Maximum Diameter: 3.0 m. Total Habitable Volume: 2.55 m3. Total Mass: 3,851 kg. Total Propellants: 455 kg. Total RCS Impulse: 119,103.00 kgf-sec. Primary Engine Thrust: 72 kgf. Main Engine Propellants: N2O4/MMH. Main Engine Isp: 273 sec. Total spacecraft delta v: 323 m/s. Electric system: 2.16 total average kW. Electric System: 151.00 total kWh. Electrical System: Fuel Cells.
Credit: © Mark Wade. 797 bytes. 155 x 70 pixels.
|Gemini Control Panel - Control panel of the basic Gemini (454 x 383 pixel image).|
Credit: NASA. 42,640 bytes. 454 x 383 pixels.
H. Kurt Strass of the Space Task Group (STG) at Langley Field, Virginia described some preliminary ideas of STG planners regarding a follow-on to Mercury: (1) an enlarged Mercury capsule to place two men in orbit for three days; (2) a two-man Mercury capsule and a large cylindrical structure to support a two-week mission. (In its 1960 budget, NASA had requested $2 million to study methods of constructing a manned orbiting laboratory or converting the Mercury spacecraft into a two-man laboratory for extended space missions.) Additional Details: Two-man Mercury capsule proposed..
Space Task Group management held a Capsule Review Board meeting. The first topic on the agenda was a follow-on Mercury program. Several types of missions were considered, including long-duration, rendezvous, artificial gravity, and flight tests of advanced equipment. Major conclusion was that a follow-on program needed to be specified in greater detail.
|Gemini-Agena - Gemini docked to Agena|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 3,073 bytes. 460 x 140 pixels.
McDonnell had been studying the concept of a maneuverable Mercury spacecraft since 1959. On February 1, Space Task Group (STG) Director Robert R. Gilruth assigned James A. Chamberlin, Chief, STG Engineering Division, who had been working with McDonnell on Mercury for more than a year, to institute studies with McDonnell on improving Mercury for future manned space flight programs. Additional Details: NASA and McDonnell began discussions of an advanced Mercury spacecraft..
A NASA Headquarters working group, headed by Bernard Maggin, completed a staff paper presenting arguments for establishing an integrated research, development, and applied orbital operations program at an approximate cost of $1 billion through 1970. The group identified three broad categories of orbital operations: inspection, ferry, and orbital launch. It concluded that future space programs would require an orbital operations capability and that the development of an integrated program, coordinated with Department of Defense, should begin immediately. The group recommended that such a program, because of its scope and cost, be independent of other space programs and that a project office be established to initiate and implement the program.
|Gemini Control Panel - Control panel of the basic Gemini (903 x 765 pixel image).|
Credit: NASA. 146,321 bytes. 903 x 765 pixels.
Walter F. Burke of McDonnell summarized the company's studies of the redesigned Mercury spacecraft for Space Task Group's senior staff. McDonnell had considered three configurations: (1) the minimum-change capsule, modified only to improve accessibility and handling, with an adapter added to carry such items as extra batteries; (2) a reconfigured capsule with an ejection seat installed and most of the equipment exterior to the pressure vessel on highly accessible pallets; and (3) a two-man capsule, similar to the reconfigured capsule except for the modification required for two rather than one-man operation. The capsule would be brought down on two Mercury-type main parachutes, the ejection seat serving as a redundant system. In evaluating the trajectory of the two-man capsule, McDonnell used Atlas Centaur booster performance data.
Baseline 10 earth orbit flights; also proposed for docking with Centaur and circumlunar flights by March 1965. NASA not interested - threat to Apollo.
|Gemini Control Panel - Gemini Control Panel - closeup of the center panel and overhead controls.|
Credit: NASA. 119,581 bytes. 529 x 927 pixels.
Landing by Gemini using 4,000 kg wet/680 kg empty lander and Saturn C-3 booster. Landing by January 1966.
Space Task Group (STG), assisted by George M. Low, NASA Assistant Director for Space Flight Operations, and Warren J. North of Low's office, prepared a project summary presenting a program of manned spaceflight for 1963-1965. This was the final version of the Project Development Plan, work on which had been initiated August 14. Additional Details: Program of manned spaceflight for 1963-1965..
Manned Spacecraft Center notified North American to proceed with Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. A letter contract, NAS 9-167, followed on November 21; contract negotiations were completed February 9, 1962; and the final contract was awarded on April 16, 1962. Phase I, the design studies that ran from the beginning of June to mid-August 1961, had already demonstrated the feasibility of the paraglider concept. Phase II-A, System Research and Development, called for an eight-month effort to develop the design concept of a paraglider landing system and to determine its optimal performance configuration. This development would lay the groundwork for Phase II, Part B, comprising prototype fabrication, unmanned and manned flight testing, and the completion of the final system design. Ultimately Phase III-Implementation-would see the paraglider being manufactured and pilots trained to fly it.
|Gemini Control Panel - Gemini Control Panel - closeup of the second astronaut (right hand side) controls.|
Credit: NASA. 85,400 bytes. 675 x 697 pixels.
Plans for the development of a two-man Mercury spacecraft were announced by Robert R. Gilruth, MSC Director. The two-man spacecraft, to be built by McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, would be similar in shape to the Mercury spacecraft but slightly larger and two to three times heavier. Its booster rocket would be a modified Air Force Titan II, scheduled for flight test in early 1962. One of the major objectives in the program would be a test of orbital rendezvous, in which the two-man spacecraft would be launched into orbit by the Titan II and attempt to rendezvous with an Agena stage launched by an Atlas rocket. The total cost for a dozen two-man spacecraft plus boosters and other equipment was estimated at $500 million.
McDonnell given letter contract for development of Gemini.
|Gemini Control Panel - Gemini Control Panel - closeup of the command astronaut (left hand seat) controls.|
Credit: NASA. 96,192 bytes. 686 x 846 pixels.
The name had been suggested by Alex P. Nagy of NASA Headquarters because the twin stars Castor and Pollux in constellation Gemini (the Twins) seemed to him to symbolize the program's two-man crew, its rendezvous mission, and its relation to Mercury. Coincidentally, the astronomical symbol (II) for Gemini, the third constellation of the zodiac, corresponded neatly to the Mark II designation.
Director Robert R. Gilruth of Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) appointed James A. Chamberlin, Chief of Engineering Division, as Manager of Gemini Project Office (GPO). The next day MSC advised McDonnell, by amendment No. 1 to letter contract NAS 9-170, that GPO had been established. It was responsible for planning and directing all technical activities and all contractor activities within the scope of the contract.
|Gemini Control Panel - Gemini control panel - closeup of the pedestal controls between the two astronauts.|
Credit: NASA. 79,207 bytes. 685 x 617 pixels.
Following receipt of the program go-ahead on December 22, 1961, McDonnell began defining the Gemini spacecraft. At that time, the basic configuration was already firm. During the three-month period, McDonnell wrote a series of detailed specifications to define the overall vehicle, its performance, and each of the major subsystems. These were submitted to NASA and approved. During the same period, the major subsystems specification control drawings - the specifications against which equipment was procured - were written, negotiated with NASA, and distributed to potential subcontractors for bid.
James E. Webb, NASA's new Administrator, reviewed the Gemini program. Project Gemini cost estimates at this point ($744.3 million) had increased substantially over the original estimate of $250 million. Estimated spacecraft cost had risen from $240.5 to $391.6 million; Titan II cost, from $113.0 to $161.8 million; Atlas-Agena, from $88.0 to $106.3 million; and supporting development (including the paraglider program), from $29.0 to $36.8 million. Estimated operations costs had declined from $59.0 to $47.8 million.
|Titan 2 Gemini - The Titan 2 ICBM was used for launch of the Gemini manned spacecraft.|
Credit: NASA. 24,744 bytes. 351 x 453 pixels.
NASA Administrator James E. Webb announced that the Mission Control Center for future manned space flights would be located at MSC. The Center would be operational in time for Gemini rendezvous flights in 1964 and later Apollo lunar missions. The overriding factor in the choice of MSC was the existing location of the Apollo Spacecraft Project Office, the astronauts, and Flight Operations Division at Houston.
North American began flight tests of the half-scale vehicle (HSTV) in Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program two months behind schedule. The instrumented HSTV with the paraglider predeployed was towed aloft by helicopter. Objectives of the predeployed flights were to evaluate flight performance, longitudinal and lateral control characteristics, effectiveness of control, and the flare maneuver capability of the paraglider. Despite various minor malfunctions in all five test flights (August 14, 17, 23, September 17, and October 23, 1962), test results verified the stability of the wing/vehicle combination in free flight and the adequacy of control effectiveness.
Credit: McDonnell Douglas. 13,879 bytes. 286 x 318 pixels.
Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) formally reviewed McDonnell's engineering mock-up of the Gemini spacecraft in St Louis. The company had begun building the mock-up in January, shortly after receiving the spacecraft contract. Mock-up review had originally been scheduled for mid-July, but informal examinations by MSC representatives, including James A Chamberlin and several astronauts, had produced some suggested changes. The review itself resulted in McDonnell's receiving 167 requests for alterations. MSC inspected the revised mock-up in November.
At the request of NASA, about 300 pieces of Gemini ground support equipment were examined by NAA engineers. It appeared that about 190 items would be usable on the Apollo program.
The feasibility of using the Gemini fuel cell for the lunar excursion module was studied by NAA. However, because of modifications to meet Apollo control and auxiliary requirements, the much lighter Gemini system would ultimately weigh about as much as the Apollo fuel cell. In addition, the Gemini fuel cell schedule would slip if the system had to be adapted to the Apollo mission.
|Mercury II Station|
Credit: NASA. 9,733 bytes. 502 x 281 pixels.
MSC announced new assignments for the seven original astronauts: L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., and Alan B. Shepard, Jr., would be responsible for the remaining pilot phases of Project Mercury; Virgil I. Grissom would specialize in Project Gemini; John H. Glenn, Jr., would concentrate on Project Apollo; M. Scott Carpenter would cover lunar excursion training; and Walter M. Schirra, Jr., would be responsible for Gemini and Apollo operations and training. As Coordinator for Astronaut Activities, Donald K. Slayton would maintain overall supervision of astronaut duties.
Specialty areas for the second generation were: trainers and simulators, Neil A. Armstrong; boosters, Frank Borman; cockpit layout and systems integration, Charles Conrad, Jr.; recovery system, James A. Lovell, Jr.; guidance and navigation, James A. McDivitt; electrical, sequential, and mission planning, Elliot M. See, Jr.; communications, instrumentation, and range integration, Thomas P. Stafford; flight control systems, Edward H. White II; and environmental control systems, personal equipment, and survival equipment, John W. Young.
Credit: © Mark Wade. 4,678 bytes. 205 x 405 pixels.
James A Chamberlin was reassigned from Manager of Project Gemini to Senior Engineering Advisor to Robert R Gilruth, Director of Manned Spacecraft Center. Charles W Mathews was reassigned from Chief, Spacecraft Technology Division, to Acting Manager of Project Gemini.
|Early Gemini Concept|
Credit: NASA. 23,558 bytes. 366 x 285 pixels.
In a NASA position paper, stimulated by Secretary of Defense McNamara's testimony on the fiscal year 1964 budget and an article in Missiles and Rockets interpreting his statements, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., NASA Associate Administrator, stressed NASA's primary management responsibility in the Gemini program. McNamara's remarks had been interpreted as presaging an Air Force take-over of Project Gemini. Seamans recognized the vital role of the Department of Defense in Gemini management and operations but insisted that NASA had the final and overall responsibility for program success.
|Gemini6 in orbit - Gemini6 in orbit view g|
Credit: NASA. 23,176 bytes. 522 x 320 pixels.
Sled test No. 2, the first dynamic dual-ejection test of the Gemini escape system, was run at China Lake. Both seats ejected and all systems functioned properly. The test was scheduled to be rerun, however, because the sled failed to attain high enough velocity. The purpose of sled tests in the ejection seat development program was to simulate various high-altitude abort situations. Sled test No. 3 was successfully run on August 9. Further tests were delayed while the ejection system was being redesigned. A modified egress kit was tested in two dummy drops on December 12, with no problems indicated. Gemini Project Office directed McDonnell to proceed with plans for the next sled test. Developmental sled testing on the escape system, incorporating the redesigned egress kit and a soft survival pack, resumed on January 16, 1964, with test No. 4; all systems functioned normally. Test No. 5, the planned repetition of test No. 2, brought developmental sled testing to an end on February 7.
|Gemini6 in orbit - Gemini6 in orbit view f|
Credit: NASA. 20,584 bytes. 488 x 355 pixels.
After a receiving inspection (October 7) and Voltage Standing Wave Ratio Test (October 8), its instrument pallets were removed for laboratory test and checkout (October 9) while the spacecraft was being checked out, weighed, and balanced. Instrument pallets were reinstalled November 26. Individual and integrated communications, instrumentation, and environmental control systems were then performed. Final industrial area testing of the spacecraft concluded with a confidence level test on February 12, 1964.
|Gemini 6 in orbit - Gemini 6 in orbit view d|
Credit: NASA. 21,641 bytes. 562 x 321 pixels.
The contract called for 20 tests to demonstrate deployment of the full-scale wing from the rendezvous and recovery can, followed by glide and radio-controlled maneuvering; each test was to be terminated by release of the wing and recovery by the emergency parachute system (which had been qualified on December 3, 1963). Additional Details: North American began deployment flights of the full-scale test vehicle for the Paraglider Landing System Program..
George E. Mueller, NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, informed the staff of the Gemini Project Office (GPO) that all 12 Gemini flights would end in water landings, although Project Gemini Quarterly Report No. 8 for the period ending February 29, 1964, still listed the paraglider for the last three Gemini missions. Additional Details: All 12 Gemini flights to end in water landings..
|Gemini6 in orbit - Gemini6 in orbit view j|
Credit: NASA. 16,563 bytes. 288 x 222 pixels.
The boilerplate achieved a horizontal velocity of 60 feet per second and a vertical velocity of about 40 feet per second at the time of impact with the water. The test was conducted to obtain data on landing accelerations for various speeds and attitudes of the spacecraft.
The first Gemini mission, Gemini-Titan I, was launched from Complex 19 at Cape Kennedy at 11:00 a.m., e.s.t. This was an unmanned flight, using the first production Gemini spacecraft and a modified Titan II Gemini launch vehicle (GLV). The mission's primary purpose was to verify the structural integrity of the GLV and spacecraft, as well as to demonstrate the GLV's ability to place the spacecraft into a prescribed earth orbit. Mission plans did not include separation of the spacecraft from the second stage of the vehicle, and both were inserted into orbit as a unit six minutes after launch. The planned mission encompassed only the first three orbits and ended about four hours and 50 minutes after liftoff. No recovery was planned for this mission, but Goddard continued to track the spacecraft until it reentered the atmosphere on the 64th orbital pass over the southern Atlantic Ocean (April 12) and disintegrated. The flight qualified the GLV and its systems and the structure of the spacecraft.
|Gemini 6 3 - View of Gemini 6 during the Gemini 6 and 7 first space rendeavous.|
Credit: NASA. 14,848 bytes. 421 x 446 pixels.
The NASA Manned Space Science Division was planning a scientific experiments program for manned and unmanned earth orbital flights. The manned program would be a direct outgrowth of the Gemini experiments program.
Air Force Space Systems Division (SSD) accepted the first Agena D (AD-71) for the Gemini program. The Agena D was a production-line vehicle procured from Lockheed by SSD for NASA through routine procedures. Following minor retrofit operations, the vehicle, now designated Gemini Agena target vehicle 5001, entered the manufacturing final assembly area at the Lockheed plant on May 14. There began the conversion of the Agena D into a target vehicle for Gemini rendezvous missions. Major modifications were installation of a target docking adapter (supplied by McDonnell), an auxiliary equipment rack, external status displays, a secondary propulsion system, and an L-band tracking radar.
|Gemini 6 2 - View of Gemini 6 during the Gemini 6 and 7 first space rendeavous.|
Credit: NASA. 17,867 bytes. 451 x 297 pixels.
MSC's Crew Systems Division investigated environmental control system (ECS) implications of using Gemini suits in Block I missions. The results indicated that the ECS was capable of maintaining nominal cabin temperature and carbon dioxide partial pressure levels; however, this mode of operation always had an adverse effect on cabin dewpoint temperature and water condensation rate.
|Gemini 6 - View of Gemini 6 during the Gemini 6 and 7 first space rendeavous.|
Credit: NASA. 13,597 bytes. 256 x 237 pixels.
|Gemini6 in orbit - Gemini6 in orbit view i|
Credit: NASA. 43,735 bytes. 511 x 443 pixels.
ASPO concurred with the requirement to provide an emergency defecation capability aboard the LEM as established by MSC's Center Medical Programs Office. The addition of a Gemini-type defecation glove appeared to present a satisfactory solution. Crew Systems Division was directed to proceed with their recommendation and add the Gemini gloves to the LEM crew provisions.
NASA invited 113 scientists and 23 national space organizations to a conference at MSC to brief them on the Gemini and Apollo missions. As a result of the conference, NASA hoped to receive proposals for biomedical experiments to be performed in Gemini and Apollo spacecraft.
|Gemini Variants - Modest modifications of Gemini proposed by McDonnell Douglas as a follow-on to the basic program (927 x 723 pixel version).|
Credit: McDonnell Douglas. 43,356 bytes. 927 x 723 pixels.
|Gemini with MORL - Gemini docked with MORL. Note lack of a docking hatch in Gemini is accomodated by having docking collar as large as the base of the Gemini reentry vehicle itself.|
Credit: US Air Force. 43,064 bytes. 517 x 305 pixels.
First American walk in space; tested spacesuit and ability to manoeuvre.
During a news conference, Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, Deputy Manager of the Gemini Project Office at MSC, affirmed that, although no firm decisions had yet been made, the concept of a circumlunar flight using a Gemini spacecraft was being seriously studied. The mission would use Titan II and III-C launch vehicles and would require rendezvousing in earth orbit. NASA, Martin-Marietta Corporation (builder of the Titan), and Aerojet-General Corporation (which manufactured upper stages for the III-C) all were studying the feasibility of such a flight. Later in the year, NASA Administrator James E. Webb eliminated the possibility of a Gemini circumlunar mission, ". . . our main reliance for operating at lunar distances . . . is the large Saturn V/Apollo system."
|Gemini Advanced - More advanced versions of Gemini proposed by McDonnell Douglas as a follow-on to the basic program (927 x 723 pixel version).|
Credit: McDonnell Douglas. 44,467 bytes. 872 x 745 pixels.
|Gemini 5 - Astronauts Cooper and Conrad in Gemini spacecraft just after insertion|
Credit: NASA. 23,281 bytes. 301 x 227 pixels.
Primary objectives of the mission were demonstrating manned orbital flight for approximately 14 days and evaluating the physiological effects of a long-duration flight on the crew. Among the secondary objectives were providing a rendezvous target for the Gemini VI-A spacecraft, stationkeeping with the second stage of the launch vehicle and with spacecraft No. 6, conducting 20 experiments, using lightweight pressure suits, and evaluating the spacecraft reentry guidance capability. All objectives were successfully achieved with the exception of two experiments lost because of equipment failure. Shortly after separation from the launch vehicle, the crew maneuvered the spacecraft to within 60 feet of the second stage and stationkept for about 15 minutes. The exercise was terminated by a separation maneuver, and the spacecraft was powered down in preparation for the 14-day mission. The crew performed five maneuvers during the course of the mission to increase orbital lifetime and place the spacecraft in proper orbit for rendezvous with spacecraft No. 6. Rendezvous was successfully accomplished during the 11th day in orbit, with spacecraft No. 7 serving as a passive target for spacecraft No. 6. About 45 hours into the mission, Lovell removed his pressure suit. He again donned his suit at 148 hours, while Borman removed his. Some 20 hours later Lovell again removed his suit, and both crewmen flew the remainder of the mission without suits, except for the rendezvous and reentry phases. With three exceptions, the spacecraft and its systems performed nominally throughout the entire mission. The delayed-time telemetry playback tape recorder malfunctioned about 201hours after liftoff, resulting in the loss of all delayed-time telemetry data for the remainder of the mission. Two fuel cell stacks showed excessive degradation late in the flight and were taken off the line; the remaining four stacks furnished adequate electrical power until reentry. Two attitude thrusters performed poorly after 283 hours in the mission. Retrofire occurred exactly on time, and reentry and landing were nominal. The spacecraft missed the planned landing point by only 10.3 km miles, touching down on December 18. The crew arrived at the prime recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Wasp, half an hour later. The spacecraft was recovered half an hour after the crew.
|Gemini 5 - Astronaut Charles Conrad inside the Gemini 5 spacecraft after launch|
Credit: NASA. 26,323 bytes. 477 x 446 pixels.
The primary objective of the mission, crewed by command pilot Astronaut Walter M. Schirra, Jr., and pilot Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford, was to rendezvous with spacecraft No. 7. Among the secondary objectives were stationkeeping with spacecraft No. 7, evaluating spacecraft reentry guidance capability, testing the visibility of spacecraft No. 7 as a rendezvous target, and conducting three experiments. After the launch vehicle inserted the spacecraft into an 87 by 140 nautical mile orbit, the crew prepared for the maneuvers necessary to achieve rendezvous. Four maneuvers preceded the first radar contact between the two spacecraft. The first maneuver, a height adjustment, came an hour and a half after insertion, at first perigee; a phase adjustment at second apogee, a plane change, and another height adjustment at second perigee followed. The onboard radar was turned on 3 hours into the mission. The first radar lock-on indicated 246 miles between the two spacecraft. The coelliptic maneuver was performed at third apogee, 3 hours 47 minutes after launch. The terminal phase initiation maneuver was performed an hour and a half later. Two midcourse corrections preceded final braking maneuvers at 5 hours 50 minutes into the flight. Rendezvous was technically accomplished and stationkeeping began some 6 minutes later when the two spacecraft were about 120 feet apart and their relative motion had stopped. Stationkeeping maneuvers continued for three and a half orbits at distances from 1 to 300 feet. Spacecraft No. 6 then initiated a separation maneuver and withdrew to a range of about 30 miles. The only major malfunction in spacecraft No. 6 during the mission was the failure of the delayed-time telemetry tape recorder at 20 hours 55 minutes ground elapsed time, which resulted in the loss of all delayed-time telemetry data for the remainder of the mission, some 4 hours and 20 minutes. The flight ended with a nominal reentry and landing in the West Atlantic, just 10 km from the planned landing point, on December 16. The crew remained in the spacecraft, which was recovered an hour later by the prime recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Wasp.
|Gemini 8 - Astronauts Scott and Armstrong inserted into Gemini 8 spacecraft|
Credit: NASA. 46,113 bytes. 335 x 466 pixels.
For lack of a target, NASA decided to have Gemini 6 rendezvous with Gemini 7. This would require a quick one week turnaround of the pad after launch, no problem with Russian equipment but a big accomplishment for the Americans. The first launch attempt was aborted; the Titan II ignited for a moment, then shut down and settled back down on its launch attachments. Schirra waited it out, did not pull the abort handles that would send the man catapulting out of the capsule on their notoriously unreliable ejection seats. The booster was safed; Schirra had saved the mission and the launch three days later went perfectly. The flight went on to achieve the first manned space rendezvous controlled entirely by the self-contained, on-board guidance, control, and navigation system. This system provided the crew of Gemini 6 with attitude, thrusting, and time information needed for them to control the spacecraft during the rendezvous. Under Schirra's typically precise command, the operation was so successful that the rendezvous was complete with fuel consumption only 5% above the planned value to reach 16 m separation from Gemini 7. Additional Details: Gemini 6.
|Gemini 8 - Gemini 8 spacecraft hoisted aboard the U.S.S. Leonard F. Mason|
Credit: NASA. 52,237 bytes. 482 x 476 pixels.
The Atlas-Agena target vehicle for the Gemini VIII mission was successfully launched from KSC Launch Complex 14 at 10 a.m. EST March 16. The Gemini VIII spacecraft followed from Launch Complex 19 at 11:41 a.m., with command pilot Neil A. Armstrong and pilot David R. Scott aboard. The spacecraft and its target vehicle rendezvoused and docked, with docking confirmed 6 hours 33 minutes after the spacecraft was launched. This first successful docking with an Agena target vehicle was followed by a major space emergency. About 27 minutes later the spacecraft-Agena combination encountered unexpected roll and yaw motion. A stuck thruster on Gemini put the docked assembly into a wild high speed gyration. Near structural limits and blackout, Armstrong undocked, figuring the problem was in the Agena, which only made it worse. The problem arose again and when the yaw and roll rates became too high the crew shut the main Gemini reaction control system down and activated and used both rings of the reentry control system to reduce the spacecraft rates to zero. This used 75% of that system's fuel. Although the crew wanted to press on with the mission and Scott's planned space walk, ground control ordered an emergency splashdown in the western Pacific during the seventh revolution. The spacecraft landed at 10:23 p.m. EST March 16 and Armstrong and Scott were picked up by the destroyer U.S.S. Mason at 1:37 a.m. EST March 17. Although the flight was cut short by the incident, one of the primary objectives - rendezvous and docking (the first rendezvous of two spacecraft in orbital flight) - was accomplished.
|Gemini 9 - View of the nose of the Gemini 9 spacecraft taken from hatch of spacecraft|
Credit: NASA. 46,883 bytes. 620 x 470 pixels.
|Gemini 9 - Close-up view of Gemini 9 spacecraft taken during EVA|
Credit: NASA. 22,689 bytes. 450 x 436 pixels.
At the first launch attempt, while the crew waited buttoned up in the spacecraft on the pad, their Agena docking target field blew up on the way to orbit. NASA decided to use an Atlas to launch an Agena docking collar only. This was called the Augmented Target Docking Adapter. Ths was successfully launched and the Gemini succeeded in rendezvousing with it. However, the ATDA shroud had not completely separated, thus making docking impossible. However three different types of rendezvous were tested with the ATDA. Cernan began his EVA, which was to include flight with a USAF MMU rocket pack but the Gemini suit could not handle heat load of the astronaut's exertions. Cernan's faceplate fogs up, forcing him to blindly grope back into the Gemini hatch after only two hours.
|Gemini 9 - Gemini 9-A spacecraft touches down in the Atlantic at end of mission|
Credit: NASA. 25,315 bytes. 280 x 465 pixels.
|Gemini 9 - Gemini 9 spacecraft recovery operations|
Credit: NASA. 47,644 bytes. 625 x 395 pixels.
Attempted to test USAF Astronaut Manoeuvring Unit. Cancelled when Cernan's faceplate fogged over.
Exciting mission with successful docking with Agena, flight up to parking orbit where Gemini 8 Agena is stored. Collins space walks from Gemini to Agena to retrieve micrometeorite package left in space all those months. Loses grip first time, and tumbles head over heels at end of umbilical around Gemini. Package retrieved on second try.
The Gemini X mission began with the launch of the Gemini Atlas-Agena target vehicle from complex 14. The Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV) attained a near-circular, 162- by 157-nautical-mile orbit. Spacecraft No. 10 was inserted into a 145- by 86-nautical-mile elliptical orbit. Slant range between the two vehicles was very close to the nominal 1000 miles. Major objective of the mission was achieved during the fourth revolution when the spacecraft rendezvoused with the GATV at 5 hours 23 minutes ground elapsed time and docked with it about 30 minutes later. More spacecraft propellant was used to achieve rendezvous than had been predicted, imposing constraints on the remainder of the mission and requiring the development of an alternate flight plan. As a result, several experiments were not completed, and another secondary objective - docking practice - was not attempted. To conserve fuel and permit remaining objectives to be met, the spacecraft remained docked with the GATV for about 39 hours. During this period, a bending mode test was conducted to determine the dynamics of the docked vehicles, standup extravehicular activties (EVA) were conducted, and several experiments were performed. The GATV primary and secondary propulsion systems were used for six maneuvers to put the docked spacecraft into position for rendezvous with the Gemini VIII GATV as a passive target. The spacecraft undocked at 44 hours 40 minutes ground elapsed time, separated from the GATV, and used its own thrusters to complete the second rendezvous some three hours later. At 48 hours and 42 minutes into the flight, a 39-minute period of umbilical EVA began, which included the retrieval of a micrometorite collection package from the Gemini VIII Agena. The hatch was opened a third time about an hour later to jettison extraneous equipment before reentry. After about three hours of stationkeeping, the spacecraft separated from the GATV. At 51 hours 39 minutes ground elapsed time, the crew performed a true anomaly-adjust maneuver to minimize reentry dispersions resulting from the retrofire maneuver. The retrofire maneuver was initiated at 70 hours 10 minutes after liftoff, during the 43rd revolution. The spacecraft landed within sight of the prime recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Guadalcanal, some 5 km from the planned landing point on July 21. Additional Details: Gemini 10.
|Gemini 9 - Gemini 9 astronauts await recovery operations|
Credit: NASA. 30,528 bytes. 316 x 458 pixels.
Photographed earth and stars.
Threw excess equipment out of spacecraft.
More highjinks with Conrad. First orbit docking with Agena, followed by boost up to record 800 km orbit, providing first manned views of earth as sphere. Tether attached by Gordon to Agena in spacewalk and after a lot of effort tethered spacecraft put into slow rotation, creating first artificial microgravity.
|Gemini 9 - Gemini 9-A spacecraft touches down in the Atlantic at end of mission|
Credit: NASA. 48,619 bytes. 607 x 461 pixels.
Threw excess equipment out of spacecraft.
Photographed earth and stars.
During the ascent to orbit, the Gemini capsule atop the MOL Cannister was ejected and made a suborbital reentry and splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean. The spacecraft was the Gemini 2 reentry module, reused to test reentry with hatch cut into the heat shield. The capsule was successfully recovered and it was found that the reentry actually melted hatch shut, indicating that the design was valid for MOL.
Two very serious astronauts get it all right to end the program. Docked and redocked with Agena, demonstrating various Apollo scenarios including manual rendezvous and docking without assistance from ground control. Aldrin finally demonstrates ability to accomplish EVA without overloading suit by use of suitable restraints and careful movement.
Major objectives of the mission were to rendezvous and dock and to evaluate extravehicular activities (EVA). Among the secondary objectives were tethered vehicle evaluation, experiments, third revolution rendezvous and docking, automatic reentry demonstration, docked maneuvering for a high-apogee excursion, docking practice, systems tests, and Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV) parking. The high-apogee excursion was not attempted because an anomaly was noted in the GATV primary propulsion system during insertion, and parking was not attempted because the GATV's attitude control gas was depleted. All other objectives were achieved. Nine spacecraft maneuvers effected rendezvous with the GATV. The onboard radar malfunctioned before the terminal phase initiate maneuver, but the crew used onboard backup procedures to calculate the maneuvers. Rendezvous was achieved at 3 hours 46 minutes ground elapsed time, docking 28 minutes later. Two phasing maneuvers, using the GATV secondary propulsion system, were accomplished, but the primary propulsion system was not used. The first of two periods of standup EVA began at 19 hours 29 minutes into the flight and lasted for 2 hours 29 minutes. During a more than two-hour umbilical EVA which began at 42 hours 48 minutes, Aldrin attached a 100-foot tether from the GATV to the spacecraft docking bar. He spent part of the period at the spacecraft adapter, evaluating various restraint systems and performing various basic tasks. The second standup EVA lasted 55 minutes, ending at 67 hours 1 minute ground elapsed time. The tether evaluation began at 47 hours 23 minutes after liftoff, with the crew undocking from the GATV. The tether tended to remain slack, although the crew believed that the two vehicles did slowly attain gravity-gradient stabilization. The crew jettisoned the docking bar and released the tether at 51 hours 51 minutes. Several spacecraft systems suffered problems during the flight. Two fuel cell stacks failed and had to be shut down, while two others experienced significant loss of power. At 39 hours 30 minutes ground elapsed time, the crew reported that little or no thrust was available from two orbit attitude and maneuver thrusters. Retrofire occurred 94 hours after liftoff. Reentry was automatically controlled. The spacecraft landed less than 5 km from the planned landing point on November 15. The crew was picked up by helicopter and deposited 28 minutes later on the deck of the prime recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Wasp. The spacecraft was recovered 67 minutes after landing. Additional Details: Gemini 12.
Photographed earth and stars.
Tested tools and techniques for extravehicular activity.
Photographed earth limb and stars in ultraviolet.