Ten manned Gemini flights were made.
The purpose of the Gemini program was to
build upon the knowledge and experience gained in the Mercury
program, in order to prepare for flights to the Moon.
The specific objectives of Gemini were:
1. Perform space walks.
2. Rendezvous with other spacecraft.
3. Perform extended duration missions.
Each Gemini spacecraft was launched by
a Titan booster from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Several unmanned Agena spacecraft were
launched as part of the Gemini program. Some of the Gemini spacecraft
docked with the Agena.
The Gemini 3 astronauts were Gus Grissom
and John Young. This was the first manned Gemini flight. The
launch date was March 23, 1965. The flight lasted 4 hours and
23 minutes. The two astronauts made three orbits of the Earth.
Grissom and Young used the spacecraft thrusters
to alter their orbit several times. The first maneuver, for example,
changed their orbit from a circle to an ellipse.
Gus Grissom named Gemini 3 "Molly
Brown," after the heroine in the Broadway play, "The
Unsinkable Molly Brown." Note that Grissom had previously
flown in the Mercury Program. His Mercury spacecraft named Liberty
Bell 7 sunk into the ocean at end of that flight. Grissom himself
narrowly escaped drowning.
Gus Grissom took a corned beef sandwich
on the Gemini 3 flight without the permission of NASA. Fellow
astronaut Wally Schirra had given the sandwich to Grissom. After
the flight, a congressional committee actually held a formal hearing
on the matter.
Grissom died in the Apollo 1 fire in 1967.
The Gemini 4 astronauts were Jim McDivitt
and Ed White. Their mission lasted from June 3 to 7, 1965. White
became the first American to make a space walk.
His space walk lasted 22 minutes. He used a handheld maneuvering
unit to propel himself. Note that the formal name for a space
walk is Extravehicular
White died with Grissom in the Apollo 1
fire in 1967.
The Gemini 5 astronauts were Gordon Cooper
and Pete Conrad. Their mission lasted from August 21 to 29, 1965.
One of the goals of this mission was to prove that fuel cells
could provide reliable electrical power for an extended mission.
The fuel cells, however, had some problems during the eight-day
GEMINI 6 AND 7
The next Gemini spacecraft was Gemini 7,
with astronauts Borman and Lovell. Their mission lasted from
December 4 to 18, 1965.
The Gemini 6 astronauts were Wally Schirra
and Tom Stafford. They launched on December 15, 1965. They rendezvoused
with Gemini 7.
The Gemini 8 astronauts were Neil Armstrong
and Dave Scott. This mission was launched on March 16, 1966.
This was the first flight to dock with the unmanned Agena vehicle.
The Gemini spacecraft had a control problems, however. As a
result, the connected Gemini and Agena vehicles began tumbling
end over end. The problem was that one of Gemini's sixteen thrusters
was firing continuously. The astronauts turned off all the thrusters.
Next, they turned on a separate group of thrusters, which were
part of the re-entry system. The astronauts regained control.
As a consequence, the astronauts had to immediately return to
Earth. Their mission thus lasted only ten hours.
Armstrong became the first man to set foot
on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.
The Gemini 9 astronauts were Tom Stafford
and Gene Cernan. Their mission lasted from December June 3 to
6, 1966. The astronauts were unable to dock with the unmanned
Agena vehicle because a protective cover on the Agena remained
partly attached. This Agena was called the "angry alligator."
The Gemini 10 astronauts were John Young
and Michael Collins. Their mission lasted from July 18 to 21,
1966. The astronauts docked with two separate Agena vehicles
as part of this mission. In addition, Collins made a space walk.
The Gemini 11 astronauts were Pete Conrad
and Richard Gordon. Their mission lasted from September 12 to
15, 1966. The astronauts docked with an Agena target vehicle.
Gordon made a space walk.
The astronauts for the Gemini 12 mission
were James Lovell and Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin. The astronauts rendezvoused
with the Agena target vehicle. Aldrin then performed a five and
a half hour space walk, which set a new world record.
The recovery ship was the USS Wasp.
Aldrin became the second man to set foot
on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission
1. Buzz Aldrin and Malcolm McConnell,
Men from Earth, Bantam, New York, 1989.
2. Michael Collins, Liftoff, Grove Press, New York, 1988.
3. Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Schirra's Space, Quinlan Press, Boston,
4. Arthur C. Clark, Man and Space, Time-Life Books, New York,
5. William R. Shelton, Man's Conquest of Space, National Geographic
Washington, D.C., 1968.
6. Neal, Lewis, Winter, Spaceflight, A Smithsonian Guide, Macmillan,
New York, 1995.
Please send comments and questions to Tom
Irvine at: email@example.com