The Gemini Missions: 1965-1966

Andrew Sheridan
US History Speech
Oct 5, 1998

In the very early 1960\'s then President John F Kennedy gave a stirring speech, which stated that “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the earth.”

This was in response to the United Soviet Socialist Republic putting Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite into orbit. America was behind in the space race. in 1961 the USSR announced the first singled manned space flight, America was behind again. The Mercury program was Americas single man space mission, and offered only fleeting glimpses of space. To reach the moon the US would need to build the technology, train the crews, and complete certain objectives. The Gemini program immediately followed the Mercury project, and preceded the Apollo missions. In the following the Gemini Missions will be discussed.

The Gemini Project had four aims:

1) to SUBJECT a 2-man crew to the isolation and rigors of orbit

2) to rendezvous(or to almost touch) in space and to dock[to actually make contact in space]

3) to go outside the capsule, that is Extra Vehicular Activity, more commonly known as the “space walk”.. which would test the effects of Outer Space on Astronauts.

and 4) to perfect methods of reentry into earths atmosphere.
The Gemini project got its name because it was a two man space project. Gemini is named after the twins of classical mythology.

In the Gemini Project there were 10 mission starting with gem 3., and culminating with mission number 12. To get into space, NASA selected the TITAN 2 missile, it could achieve altitudes of all previous rockets.

most of the men involved in Gemini were involved in the Mercury missions, and later the Apollo missions.

Gus Grissiom and John Young manned the first successful launch of a Gemini mission on March 3, 1965. Gemini 3 demonstrated maneuverability via attitude control thrusters. The Capsule was called
“molly brown” after the play “unsinkable molly brown” to tease “Gus” Grissom because his Mercury Mission Capsule sank on splashdown. It was the last capsule to be named.

3 months later on June 3, 65, James McDivitt and Edward White launched Gemini 4, and the first US Space Walk was completed by Ed White.

After only two missions, 2 of the four main objectives had already been achieved.

On August 21 65 Gordon Cooper and Charles Conrad launched from Cape Canaveral in the Gemini 5 rocket. The mission tested a new fuel cell, which malfunctioned. Docking maneuvers were practiced without a target and were successful. From orbit, the crew could distinguish ground targets (such as ocean liners). This gave the intelligence community the idea for the spy satellite. The mission lasted 8 days.

Gemini 6 was delayed because the Ageana rocket the were to dock with blew up after take off. Launch 6 was delayed for so long, that the had to change it to 6-A. Walter Schirra and Thomas Stafford took off in the Rocket on December 15 65. The launch was orinignlly going to be a simultaneous duel launch.

Gemini 7 took of on December 4 65, 9 days before 6-a, it had Frank Borman and Jim Lovell(later participated in Apollo 13) Gemini’s 6-a and 7 performed the first manned rendezvous, not the first manned docking.
during these missions, Borman and Lovell set a space endurance record, at 330 hours.

The first in flight near-disiater occurred in Gemini 8 launched on March 16, 1966, the 40th anniversary of the first liquid fuel rocket launch, piloted by Neil Armstrong and David Scott. The ship docked with an Agena rocket, and then spun out of control, they used attitude skills to save the ship, the mission was aborted,ending only 11 hours into orbit.

Gemini 9-A with Astronauts Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan, launched on June 3rd 1966, was supposed to dock with an orbiting rocket, unfortunately, half opened payload shrouds and the Agena rocket made docking impossible. Cernan made a space walk, but had physical difficulties, which alerted NASA physicians to problems associated with Extra Vehicular Activity.

Splash down and re-entry were all but perfected on the first few missions, docking however needed further investigation to be completed

John Young piloted with Michael Collins, on the Gemini 10, which blasted off on July 18. 1966 and had multiple orbits,