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 NASA Gemini Missions

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced December 7, 1961, a plan to extend the existing manned space flight program by development of a two-man spacecraft. The program was officially designated Gemini on January 3, 1962. It was named after the third constellation of the zodiac, featuring the twin stars Castor and Pollux. The program was operationally completed with the Gemini XII flight. The Gemini program was managed by the Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, Texas, under direction of the Office of Manned Space Flight, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C, Dr. George E. Mueller, Associate Administrator of NASA for Manned Space Flight, served as acting director of the Gemini program. William C. Schneider, Deputy Director of Manned Space Flight for Mission Operations, served as Mission Director on all Gemini flights beginning with Gemini V. The Manned Spacecraft Center Gemini effort was headed by Dr. Robert R. Gilruth, director of the Center, and Charles W. Matthews, Gemini Program Manager. 

PROGRAM OBJECTIVES 

The Gemini Program was conceived after it became evident to NASA officials that an intermediate step was required between Project Mercury and the Apollo Program. The major objectives assigned to Gemini were: To subject two men and supporting equipment to long duration flights -- a requirement for projected later trips to the moon or deeper space. To effect rendezvous and docking with other orbiting vehicles, and to maneuver the docked vehicles in space, using the propulsion system of the target vehicle for such maneuvers. To perfect methods of reentry and landing the spacecraft at a pre-selected land-landing point. To gain additional information concerning the effects of weightlessness on crew members and to record the physiological reactions of crew members during long duration flights. A brief summary of the Gemini flight results reveals how successful the Gemini Program was. All of the major objectives were met as well as many other objectives assigned to each mission, with the exception of land landing which was canceled from the Gemini Program in 1964. However, the precision control necessary to achieve the land landing objective was demonstrated.

Gemini Goals


The second U.S. manned space program was announced in January 1962.
Its two-man crew gave it its name, Gemini, for the third constellation of the
Zodiac and its twin stars, Castor and Pollux. Gemini involved 12 flights,
including two unmanned flight tests of the equipment. Like Mercury's, its major objectives were clear-cut:

  • To subject man and equipment to space flight up to two weeks in duration.
  • To rendezvous and dock with orbiting vehicles and to maneuver the docked combination by using the target vehicle's propulsion system;
  • To perfect methods of entering the atmosphere and landing at a preselected point on land. Its goals were also met, with the exception of a land landing, which was cancelled in 1964.

 

THE SPACECRAFT 

The spacecraft was an enlargement of the familiar Mercury capsule--5.8m (19 ft) long, 3m (10 ft) in diameter, and about 3810 kilograms (8400 pounds) in weight. Engineering changes simplified maintenance and made it more maneuverable for the pilots. The Titan II rocket, more powerful than the Redstone, placed the larger spacecraft into orbit. Sometimes referred to as Gemini-Titan for the craft and its launch vehicle, each flight was designated by a Roman numeral. Only the first capsule was nicknamed; Command Pilot Virgil Grissom called it the MOLLY BROWN in reference to his Mercury spacecraft that sank.

 

THE MANNED FLIGHTS

Gemini-3 

Pad LC-19 ()
Titan-II (3)

Crew:

Virgil I. Grissom (2), commander
John W. Young (1), pilot

 

Backup Crew:

Walter M. Schirra, Jr.
Thomas P. Stafford

 

CapCom:

L. Gordon Cooper (Cape)
Roger B. Chaffee (Houston)

 

Milestones:

Payload:

Gemini-3 capsule

Mission Objective:

Demonstrate manned orbital flight; evaluate two-man design. Demonstrate and evaluate tracking network. Demonstrate OAMS capability in orbital maneuvers and in retrofire backup. Demonstrate controlled reentry and landing. Evaluate major spacecraft subsystems. Demonstrate systems checkout, prelaunch, and launch procedures. Demonstrate and evaluate recovery procedures and systems. Spacecraft weight: 3225kg.
Secondary objectives included: Evaluate flight crew equipment, biomedical instrumentation, and personal hygiene system. Perform 3 experiments. Evaluate low-level longitudinal oscillations (Pogo) of the GLV. General photographic coverage in orbit.

Launch:

March 23, 1965 9:24:00.064 am EST. There was one brief hold on launch day while a sensor on an oxidizer line was adjusted.

Orbit:

Altitude: 224km
Inclination: 33.0 degrees
Orbits: 3
Duration: 0 Days, 4 hours, 52 min, 31 seconds
Distance:

Landing:

March 23, 1965. Landing at 22deg26m North and 70deg 51min West. Miss distance from landing zone 111.1km (60nm). Recovered by USS Intrepid. Crew onboard in 70 min.
 

Mission Highlights:

All primary objectives were achieved except the controlled reentry objective was only partially achieved. The angle of attack during reentry was lower than expected. Secondary objectives were only partially achieved. The personal hygiene system was only partially tested, Operating mechanism failed on S-2 - Synergistic Effect of Zero Gravity on Sea Urchin Eggs Experiment and the photographic coverage objective was only partially successful because of an improper lens setting on the 16mm camera.

Gemini IV June 03-07, 1965 

Pad LC-19 ()
Titan-II (4)
1st NASA EVA

 

Crew:

James A. McDivitt (1), Commander
Edward H. White II (1), Pilot

 

Backup Crew:

Frank Borman
James A. Lovell, Jr.

 

CapCom:

Clifton C. Williams, Jr. (Cape)
Virgil I. Grissom (Houston)

 

Milestones:

 

Payload:

Gemini-IV capsule

 

Mission Objective:

Evaluate effects of prolonged space flight. Demonstrate and evaluate performance of spacecraft and systems in 4-day flight. Evaluate procedures for crew rest and work cycles, eating schedules, and realtime flight planning. Spacecraft weight: 3574kg.

 

Secondary objectives included: Demonstrate and evaluate EVA and control by use of HHMU and tether. Stationkeep and rendezvous with second stage of GLV. Evaluate spacecraft systems. Make in-and-out-of plane maneuvers. Further test OAMS retro backup capability. Perform 11 experiments.

 

Launch:

June 3, 1965 10:15:59.562 am.

Orbit:

Altitude: 296.1 km (159.9nm)
Inclination: 32.5 degrees
Orbits: 62
Duration: 4 Days, 1 hour, 56 min, 12 seconds
Distance: km

Landing:

June 7, 1965. Landing was at 27deg 44min North and 74deg 11min West. Landing was 81.4km from attempted landing zone.
 

Mission Highlights:

Gemini-4 was NASA's 1st Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) operation. EVA time 36min
All but one primary objectives were achieved. Computer controlled reentry in the demonstration and evaluation of spacecraft systems objective was not flown because of inadvertent alteration of computer memory. All secondary objectives were met except one. The secondary objective of stationkeeping and rendezvous was only partially successful because separation and rendezvous was not attempted due to fuel consumption.

 

Gemini V August 21-29, 1965 

Pad LC-19 ()
Titan-II (5)

Crew:
C. Gordon Cooper (2), Commander
Charles Conrad, Jr (1), Pilot

Backup Crew:
Neil A. Armstrong
Elliot M. See, Jr

CapCom:
Virgil I. Grissom (Cape)
James A. McDivitt (Houston)
Edwin E. Aldrin (Houston)
Neil A. Armstrong (Houston)

Milestones:

Payload:
Gemini-V capsule

Mission Objective:
Evaluate rendezvous Guidance and Navigation system with REP. Demonstrate 8-day capability of spacecraft and crew. Evaluate effects on weightlessness for 8-day flight. Spacecraft weight: 3605kg.

Secondary objectives included: Demonstrate controlled reentry guidance. Evaluate fuel cell. Demonstrate all phases of guidance and control system operation needed for rendezvous. Evaluate capability of both crewmen to maneuver spacecraft to rendezvous. Checkout rendezvous radar. Execute 17 experiments.

Launch:
August 21, 1965; 8:59:59.518am EST. A launch attempt on August 19 was postponed due to weather conditions and problems with loading cryogenic fuel for the fuel cell.

Orbit:
Altitude: 349.8 km
Inclination: 32.61 degrees
Orbits: 120
Duration: 7 Days, 22 hours, 55 min, 14 seconds
Distance: km

Landing:
August 29, 1965. Landing was at 29deg44min North and 69deg 45min West. Miss distance was 170.3km (92nm). Navy divers from the backup recovery ship USS DuPont (DD-941) recovered the crew and transfered them via helicopter to the USS Lake Champlain (crew onboard in 89 min).
Mission Highlights:
During the mission, problems developed with the fuel cell that precluded rendezvous with the radar evaluation pod (REP). Primary rendezvous G&N system with REP objective was not achieved. REP rendezvous was not attempted due to a decision to power down fuel cells.

Secondary objective to demonstrate controlled reentry guidance was not achieved due to incorrect navigation coordinates transmitted to the spacecraft computer from the ground. This caused an 89mile overshoot of the landing zone. Experiment D-2, Nearby Object Photography was not conducted when REP rendezvous was canceled.

 

Gemini VII 

Pad LC-19 ()
Titan-II (6)

Crew:
Frank Borman (1), Commander
James A. Lovell (1), Pilot

Backup Crew:
Edward H. White II
Michael Collins

CapCom:
Alan L. Bean (Cape)
Elliot M. See Jr. (Houston)
Eugene A. Cernan (Houston)
Charles A. Bassett II (Houston)

Milestones:

Payload:
Gemini-VII capsule

Mission Objective:
Primary object was to conduct 14-day mission and evaluate effects on crew. Secondary objectives included: Provide target for Gemini VI-A. Stationkeep with Gemini VI-A and with second stage of GLV. Conduct 20 experiments. Evaluate lightweight pressure suit. Evaluate spacecraft reentry capability. Conduct systems tests. Spacecraft weight: 3663kg.

Launch:
December 4, 1965 2:30:03.702pm EST

Orbit:
Altitude: 327km (177.1 nm)
Inclination: 28.89 degrees
Orbits: 206
Duration: 13 Days, 18 hours, 35 min, 1 seconds
Distance: km

Landing:
December 18, 1965. Landed at 25deg 25.1min North, 70.6deg 7min West Miss distance was 11.8km (6.4nm).
Mission Highlights:
All primary and secondary objectives were achieved.

Gemini VI December 15-16, 1965 

Pad LC-19 ()
Titan-II (7)

Crew:
Walter M. Schirra Jr. (1), Commander
Thomas P. Stafford (1), Pilot

Backup Crew:
Virgil I. Grissom
John W. Young

CapCom:
Alan L. Bean (Cape)
Elliot M. See (Houston)
Eugene A. Cernan (Houston)
Charles A. Bassett II (Houston)

Milestones:

Payload:
Gemini-VI-A capsule

Mission Objective:
Primary objective was to rendezvous with Gemini-VII. Secondary objectives included: Perform closed-loop rendezvous in fourth orbit. Stationkeep with Gemini VII. Evaluate reentry guidance capability. Conduct visibility tests for rendezvous, using Gemini VII as target. Perform 3 experiments. Spacecraft weight 3546kg.

Launch:
Dec 15, 1965 8:37:26.471 am EST. Due to a Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV) propulsion failure on 25 Oct, 1965 the mission was rescheduled. The Agena target vehicle Gemini Agena target vehicle GATV-5002 and TLV 5301 with which the Gemini-VI-A was to rendezvous and dock, failed to go into orbit. A launch attempt on Dec 12, 1965 failed because of a minor launch vehicle hardware problem.

Orbit:
Altitude: 311.3km (168.1 nm)
Inclination: 28.89 degrees
Orbits: 16
Duration: 1 Day, 1 hour, 51 min, 24 seconds
Distance: km

Landing:
December 16, 1965. Landing was at 23deg 35min North and 67deg 50min West. Miss distance was 12.9km (7nm). Recovered by the USS Wasp (crew onboard in 66min).
Mission Highlights:
All primary objectives were achieved. Secondary objective on experiment D-8 Radiation in Spacecraft because stationkeeping with Gemini-VII interfered with the experiment.

 

Gemini VIII March 16, 1966

Pad LC-19 ()
Titan-II (8)

Crew:
Neil A. Armstrong
David R. Scott

Backup Crew:
Charles Conrad Jr.
Richard F. Gordon, Jr.

CapCom:
R. Walter Cunningham (Cape)
James A. Lovell Jr. (Houston)

Milestones:

Payload:
Gemini-XIII capsule

Mission Objective:
Primary objective was to rendezvous and dock with Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV-5003) launched on 3/16/1966 from Complex 14 (TLV-5302) and conduct EVA operations. Secondary objectives included: Rendezvous and dock in 4th revolution. Perform docked-vehicle maneuvers, Evaluate systems and conduct 10 experiments. Spacecraft weight: 3788kg. GATV-5003 Weight: 8097.

Launch:
March 16, 1966. 11:41:02.389. There was a one day delay in launching the spacecraft due to minor problems with the spacecraft and launch vehicle hardware.

Orbit:
Altitude: 298.7km (161.3 nm)
Inclination: 28.91 degrees
Orbits: 7
Duration: 0 Days, 10 hours, 41 min, 26 seconds
Distance: km

Landing:
March 17, 1966. Landing was at 25deg 13.8min North and 136deg 0min East. Pacific Ocean. Recovered by the USS Mason (crew onboard in 3 hours).
Mission Highlights:
Gemini-VIII successfully docked with Gemini Agena target vehicle GATV-6 hours 34 min after liftoff. Because of problems with the spacecraft control system, the crew was forced to undock after approximately 30 min. The spacecraft-target vehicle combination had begun to encounter increasing yaw and roll rates. The crew regained control of their spacecraft by using the reentry control system, which prompted an early landing in a secondary landing area in the Pacific. No EVA was performed.
The failure was caused by an electrical short in control system. Docking and re-rendezvous secondary objectives were not achieved due to the shortened mission.

 

Gemini IX June 03-06, 1966 

Pad LC-19 ()
Titan-II (9)
EVA

Crew:
Thomas P. Stafford (2), Commander
Eugene A. Cernan (1), Pilot

Backup Crew:
James A. Lovell Jr,
Edwin E. Aldrin
Capcoms:

Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. (Cape,Houston)
Neil A. Armstrong (Houston)
James A. Lovell, Jr. (Houston)
Richard F. Gordon, Jr. (Houston)

Milestones:

Payload:
Gemini-IX-A capsule

Mission Objective:
Primary objective was to perform rendezvous and docking and conduct EVA. Secondary objectives included: Rendezvous with ATDA (launched 6/1/66 from Complex 14) in 3rd revolution. Conduct systems evaluation and equiperiod rendezvous. Execute 7 experiments. Practice Docking, Rendezvous from above and to demonstrate controlled reentry. The original crew of Gemini-IX, Elliott M. See and Charles Bassett were killed in an airplane crash on February 28, 1966. The backup crew was named to the prime crew positions. Spacecraft weight: 3750kg. ATDA weight: 1088kg

Launch:
June 3, 1966 8:39:33.335 am EST. GT-9 was postponed when TLV 5303 with Gemini Agena target vehicle GATV-5004 malfunctioned on May 17. In its place, a substitute target was used for GT-9A; the Augmented Target Docking Adapter (ATDA) was launched by an Atlas on June 1, 1966 (TLV-5304) from Launch Complex 14; However GT-9A was not launched the same day as planned due to a guidance system computer problem. After a brief hold, the spacecraft was launched on the 3rd day.

Orbit:
Altitude: 311.5km (168nm)
Inclination: 28.86 degrees
Orbits: 45
Duration: 3 Days, 0 hours, 20 min, 50 seconds
Distance: km

Landing:
June 6, 1966. Landing was at 27deg 52min N and 75deg 0.4min West. Miss distance .704 miles (.38 nm). Recovery ship USS Wasp (crew onboard in 52 min).
Mission Highlights:
Primary objective of rendezvous and docking was only partially achieved because the shroud on the ATDA failed to jettison. Instead GT-9A performed a number of rendezvous maneuvers, including a simulation of lunar module rendezvous. EVA time 2hours 7 min. During EVA maneuvers, Cernan's visor became fogged, and he was unable to test the Air Force maneuvering unit.

Secondary objective experiment S-10, Agena Micrometerorite Collection experiment was not attempted because EVA did not take place near Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV).

 

Gemini X July 18-21, 1966

Pad LC-19 ()
Titan-II (10)
EVA

Crew:
John W. Young
Michael Collins

Backup Crew:
Alan L. Bean
Clifton C. Williams, Jr.

CapCom:
L. Gordon Cooper Jr. (Cape, Houston)
Edwin E. Aldrin (Houston)

Milestones:

Payload:
Gemini-X capsule

Mission Objective:
Primary objective was to rendezvous and dock with Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV-5005) launched as TLV-5305 from Complex 14 on 7/18/66. Secondary objectives included: Rendezvous and dock in 4th revolution. Rendezvous with Gemini Agena target vehicle GATV-8 using Agena propulsion systems, Conduct EVA, Practice docking, Perform 14 experiments, Perform system evaluation on bending-mode tests; docked maneuvers; static discharge; monitoring; post-docked Agena maneuvers; reentry guidance; park Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV) in 352km (190.3 nm) orbit. Spacecraft weight: 3763kg. GATV weight: 8097kg

Launch:
July 18, 1966. 5:20:26.648 pm EST

Orbit:
Altitude: 753.3km (412.2 nm)
Inclination: 28.85 degrees
Orbits: 43
Duration: 2 days 22 hours 46 min 39 seconds
Distance: km

Landing:
July 21, 1966. 4:07pm. Landing was at 26deg 44.7min North and 71deg 57min West. Miss distance was 6.2km (3.4 nm).

Mission Highlights:
1 hour, 29 min. EVA. All primary objectives and most secondary objectives were met. The practice docking secondary objective and some experiments were canceled due to insufficent fuel reserves.

 

Gemini XI September 12-15, 1966  

Pad LC-19 ()
Titan-II (11)

Crew:
Charles Conrad Jr.
Richard F. Gordon Jr.

Backup Crew:
Neil A. Armstrong
William A. Anders

CapCom:
Clifton C. Williams Jr. (Cape)
John W. Young (Houston)
Alan L. Bean (Houston)
Milestones:

Payload:
Gemini-XI capsule

Mission Objective:
Primary objective was to rendezvous and dock with Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV-5006) which was launched 9/12/66 from Launch Complex 14 as TLV-5306 in 1st revolution. Secondary objectives included: Practice docking, Perform EVA. Conduct 11 experiments, Maneuver while docked (high apogee excursion), Conduct tethered vehicle test, Demonstrate automatic reentry and Park GATV-10 in 352.4km orbit. Spacecraft weight: 3798kg. GATV weight: 8097kg

Launch:
September 12, 1966 9:42:26.546 am EST. The launch was postponed twice; On September 9 due to a small leak in the first stage oxidizer tank of the GLV; and on the 10th due to a suspected malfunction of the autopilot on the GLV. On the day of the launch there was a 16 min hold due to a suspected leak around the command pilot's hatch.

Orbit:
Altitude: 1368.9 km (739.2nm)
Inclination: 28.83 degrees
Orbits: 44
Duration: 2 Days 23 hours 17 min 8 seconds
Distance: km

Landing:
September 15, 1966. Landing was at 24deg 15.4min North and 70deg 0.0min West. Miss distance was 4.9km (2.65nm). Recovery ship USS Guam (crew onboard in 24 min).
Mission Highlights:
All Primary objectives and most secondary objectives were achieved. Experiment D-16, Power Tool Evaluation was canceled when the EVA was terminated early. During EVA, astronaut Gordon tethered the two spacecraft together with a 30-meter line. Automatic reentry was successful.

 

Gemini XII November 11-15, 

Pad LC-19 ()
Titan-II (12)

Crew:
James A. Lovell Jr., Commander
Edwin E. Aldrin, Pilot

Backup Crew:
L. Gordon Cooper, Jr.
Eugene A. Cernan

CapCom:
Stuart A. Roosa (Cape)
Charles Conrad Jr. (Houston)
William A. Anders (Houston)

Milestones:

Payload:
Gemini-XII capsule

Mission Objective:
Primary object was rendezvous and docking and to evaluate EVA. Secondary objective included: Tethered vehicle operation, perform 14 experiments, rendezvous and dock in 3rd revolution, demonstrate automatic reentry, perform docked maneuvers, practice docking, conduct system tests and to park Gemini Agena target vehicle GATV-12 in 555.6 km (300nm) orbit.

Launch:
Nov 11, 1966 3:46:33.419 pm EST.

Orbit:
Altitude: 301.3km (162.7nm)
Inclination: 28.78 degrees
Orbits: 59
Duration: 3 Days, 22 hours, 34 min, 31 seconds
Distance: km

Landing:
Nov 15, 1966. Landed at 24deg 35min North 69deg 57min West. Miss distance was 4.8km (2.6nm)
Mission Highlights:
EVA time 5 hours, 30 min. All primary objectives and most secondary objectives were met. Docked maneuvers were canceled due to a propulsion anomaly during Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV) insertion. The GATV was not placed in a 555.6km orbit because its attitude control gas was depleted by earlier maneuvers.

Credit NASA