Gemini Spacecraft


Gemini Spacecraft was a two-man spacecraft. Plans that a U.S. two-man spacecraft would be designed were revealed on 7 December, 1961. One month later, on 3 January, 1962, “Gemini” was introduced. The Gemini program took its name from the two-star constellation of Castor and Pollux.

Gemini Spacecraft

Gemini Capsule

In essence, Gemini was a larger version of the one-man Mercury capsule. It was 5.8 meters (19 feet) long by three meters (10 feet) wide and weighed approximately 3,810 kilograms (8,400 pounds). It required simpler maintenance compared to Mercury, and, largely because of significant input from astronaut Virgil Grissom, was easier for pilots to maneuver. Gemini spacecraft were launched using Titan launch vehicles instead of Redstone rockets, which resulted in them also being known as Gemini Titan spacecraft.

There were 10 spaceflights in Gemini Program. In the years following the Mercury program and before the Apollo missions, astronauts and mission operators honed their skills and gained essential spaceflight knowledge from the Gemini program. Gemini allowed them to learn about fundamental things, such as orbital rendezvous and docking and extravehicular activity, thereby laying the groundwork for successful lunar missions.

The Gemini Space Program was a US Space space programme.

Gemini Manned Missions

Gemini III – Gemini III  was the first manned Gemini flight and first U.S. two-man mission.

Gemini IV – During Gemini IV, Ed White performs the first spacewalk by an American (22 minutes).

Gemini V –  First use of fuel cells for electrical power. Prepared for future rendezvous missions by testing guidance and navigation systems.

Gemini VI – Completed first space rendezvous with Gemini VII.

Gemini VII – Gemini VII was the longest Gemini Mission. The crew consisted of Commander Frank Borman and Pilot James A. Lovell. The mission elapsed time was 330 hours, 35 minutes and 1 second. Borman had served as commander of Gemini 7, a mission on which he and Lovell spent 14 days in space, setting a record for endurance.

Gemini VII   Gemini VII Last minute rendezvous target for Gemini VI when Agena failed. However, primary objective was to verify that humans could live in space for up to 14 days. 

Gemini VIII – First to dock with another spacecraft, an Agena unmanned stage. An attitude adjuster malfunctioned, causing the spacecraft to spin uncontrollably. First emergency return of U.S. spacecraft. 

Gemini IX – Failed docking attempt with augmented target docking adapter. Completed three types of rendezvous and two hours of spacewalking. 

Gemini X (Gemini 10) – First time Agena’s propulsion system used to rendezvous. Also rendezvoused with Gemini VIII target vehicle. The first double rendezvous was performed in space in July 1966. On Gemini 10 Young and Collins first rendezvoused with their primary Gemini 10 Agena target and later with the Gemini 8 Agena target. During Gemini 10, Mike Collins was the first person to transfer to another spacecraft in orbit. He transferred to the Agena target vehicle to recover sample collections. Mike Collins was the first crewman to lose a camera in space during a space walk to the Agena rendezvous target vehicle during the Gemini 10 mission.

Gemini XI -Gemini XI Agena propulsion system used to reach a record altitude of 1,189.3 kilometers. Rendezvoused and docked with Agena during both spacecraft’s first orbit. Gemini 11 was the first US manned spacecraft that made the first steering re-entry controlled entirely by computer.

Gemini XII – Gemini XII Rendezvoused and docked with Agena target vehicle. Buzz Aldrin set a spacewalk record of five hours, 30 minutes. Buzz Aldrin took the first photograph of a solar eclipse from space during Gemini 12.

During Gemini XII, over three consecutive days beginning 12 November, 1966, Buzz Aldrin walked in space for a total of 5.5 hours. In 1969 Buzz Aldrin became the second man to walk on the moon.

Project Gemini

The program had four primary objectives: determine the ability of a human crew to work in space for up to two weeks; rendezvous and dock with another vehicle, and use the target vehicle’s propulsion system to maneuver; perfect methods of reentry and the ability to land at a predesignated spot on dry land; and collect more information on the effects of weightlessness and record astronauts’ physiological reactions during long-duration flights. All of these objectives were met except for the dry land landing, which was abandoned in 1964. 

The first American in space, Alan Shepard, was originally selected to be the commander of the first Gemini mission. However, Shepard developed Meniere’s Syndrome, a disease that causes periods of dizziness, nausea and disorientation. Grissom commanded the first mission instead with John Young serving as pilot. 

A total of ten manned and two unmanned Gemini flights were successfully completed between March 1965 and November 1966. They all launched from Kennedy Space Center, launch complex 19. 

According to “The Early Years: Mercury to Apollo-Soyuz” booklet, the entire Gemini program cost $1.3 billion. This included the rockets, engines, spacecraft, tracking and data acquisition, operations, operations support and facilities. The cost was Workers prepare to close the hatchs of the Gemini 12 spacecraft. 

For 5.2 percent of the cost of the $25 billion Apollo program, Gemini achieved a string of firsts and helped prepare for the Apollo lunar missions. Gemini mission accomplishments included the first U.S. two-man spaceflight, spacewalk by an American, use of fuel cells for electric power, spacecraft rendezvous, docking with another spacecraft, emergency landing of a U.S. spacecraft and use of an Agena target vehicle’s propulsion system for rendezvous operations. 

The Gemini program was managed by the Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, Texas, under the supervision of the Office of Manned Spaceflight at NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. Dr. George E. Mueller acted as program director up until Gemini 5, when William C. Schneider took over the responsibility.

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Did You Know? 

Astronaut John Young brought a corned beef sandwich with him on the Gemini III mission. Walter Schirra bought it for him from a deli at the Cape called “Wolfie’s” the night before the launch. When Virgil Grissom said that he was hungry, Young whipped the sandwich out of his space suit and offered it to him. But sandwiches make crumbs, and soon they were floating throughout the cabin. On top of that, the strong aroma was a bit overpowering in that small space. NASA was later criticized for the occurrence at an appropriations hearing. When Gemini VIII docked to an orbiting Agena spacecraft, it immediately began spinning uncontrollably. David Scott managed to separate the two spacecraft, but then the Gemini began spinning even more. Its velocity increased to one rotation every second. Scott and Neil Armstrong stayed focused and located the problem – a stuck attitude adjuster. They cut it out and restabilized the spacecraft so they could return home. Virgil Grissom nicknamed the Gemini III spacecraft “Molly Brown” after the popular Broadway musical “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” He was poking fun at the fact that his previous spacecraft, Mercury Liberty Bell 7, sank after it splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean. This was the only Gemini spacecraft that had a nickname.

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What is the Gemini Program?

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Gemini Spacecraft Links

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