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Gemini Program (1962-1966)

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The Gemini program was made of mainly twelve launched vehicles. Two of them were unmanned, while the last ten carried two people into Earth orbit each. The program was designed as a bridge between the Mercury and Apollo programs. The Gemini missions lasted for periods ranging from five hours to 14 days.

The objectives were to primarily test equipment and mission procedures and to train astronauts and ground crews for future Apollo missions. The general objectives of the program included: Long duration flights, testing of the ability to maneuver a spacecraft, achievement of rendezvous and docking of two vehicles in Earth orbit, conduct experiments in space operation outside of a spacecraft, active control of reentry to achieve a precise landing, and onboard orbital navigation.

Mission Highlights

Gemini 1:Gemini 1 Launch

  • No crew.
  • Launched April 8, 1964; reentered April 12, 1964.
  • Mission included: Testing of the Titan 2 launch vehicle, the Gemini spacecraft structural integrity, and the launch vehicle-spacecraft compatibility which covered all phases through the orbital insertion phase.
  • Other objectives were to check launch vehicle-spacecraft launch heating conditions, launch vehicle performance, launch vehicle flight control system switch-over circuits, launch vehicle orbit insertion accuracy, and the malfunction detection system.

Gemini 2:

  • No crew.
  • Launched January 19, 1965; splashdown January 19, 1965.
  • Mission included: Demonstrating the adequacy of the spacecraft reentry module's heat protection during a maximum heating rate return, structural integrity of the spacecraft, performance of spacecraft systems, obtaining test results on communications, cryogenics, fuel cell and reactant supply system, and further qualification of the launch vehicle.

Gemini 3:

  • Crew: Gus Grissom and John Young
  • Launched March 23, 1965; reentered March 23, 1965.
  • Mission included: Demonstrating the crewed qualifications of the Gemini spacecraft including evaluation of the two-man Gemini design, the worldwide tracking network, the Orbit Attitude and Maneuver System (OAMS), the control of reentry flight path and landing point, spacecraft systems, and spacecraft recovery; also included were evaluation of flight crew equipment, effects of low level launch vehicle oscillations (POGO) on the crew, and the obtaining of photographic images from orbit.
  • There were also three other experiments conducted by the astronauts.Gemini 4 EVA

Gemini 4:

  • Crew: James McDivitt and Ed White
  • Launched June 3, 1965; reentered June 7, 1965.
  • Mission included: The first American spacewalk, testing the performance of the astronauts and capsule, evaluating work procedures, schedules, and flight planning for an extended length of time in space, demonstrating ExtraVehicular Activity (EVA) in space, conduction of stationkeeping and rendezvous maneuvers, evaluation of spacecraft systems, demonstration of the capability to make significant in-plane and out-of-plane maneuvers, and the use of the maneuvering system as a backup reentry system.
  • There were also 11 other experiments conducted by the astronauts.

Gemini 5:

  • Crew: Gordon Cooper and Pete ConradGemini 5 Recovery
  • Launched August 21, 1965; reentered August 29, 1965.
  • Mission included: Demonstrating a long-duration crewed flight, evaluating the effects of long periods of weightlessness on the crew, testing rendezvous capabilities and maneuvers using a rendezvous evaluation pod, demonstration of all phases of guidance and control systems to support rendezvous and controlled reentry guidance, evaluating the fuel cell power system and rendezvous radar, and the testing of the capability of either pilot to maneuver the spacecraft in orbit into a close proximity with another object
  • There were also 17 other experiments conducted by the astronauts.

Gemini 6A:Gemini 6 Capsule

  • Crew: Walter Schirra and Tom Stafford
  • Launched December 15, 1965; reentered December 16, 1965.
  • Mission included: Demonstrating on-time launch procedures, closed-loop rendezvous capabilities, stationkeeping techniques with Gemini 7, evaluation of spacecraft reentry guidance capabilities, and conducting spacecraft systems tests and four experiments.
  • This mission was originally designated Gemini 6 and scheduled for launch on October 25, 1965, but was cancelled when the Agena target vehicle failed to go into orbit an hour earlier.

Gemini 7:

  • Crew: Frank Borman and Jim Lovell
  • Launched December 4, 1965; reentered December 18, 1965.
  • Mission included: Demonstrating a two-week flight, performing stationkeeping with the Gemini launch vehicle stage 2, evaluating the "shirt sleeve" environment and the lightweight pressure suit, acting as a rendezvous target for Gemini 6, and demonstrating controlled reentry close to the target landing point.
  • There were also three scientific, four technological, four spacecraft, and eight medical experiments performed.

Gemini 8:Gemini 8 Capsule

  • Crew: Neil Armstrong and David Scott
  • Launched March 16, 1966; reentered March 16, 1966.
  • Mission included: Rendezvous and four docking tests with the Agena target vehicle, execution of an ExtraVehicular Activity (EVA) experiment, parking the Agena in a 410 km (255 mile) circular orbit, performing a rendezvous with the Agena target vehicle, conducting systems evaluation, evaluating the auxiliary tape memory unit, and demonstrating controlled reentry.
  • Ten technological, medical, and scientific experiments were carried on board.

Gemini 9A:

  • Crew: Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan
  • Launched June 3, 1966; reentered June 6, 1966.
  • Mission included: Rendezvous techniques and docking with a target vehicle to simulate maneuvers to be carried out on future Apollo missions, an ExtraVehicular Activity (EVA) spacewalk to test the Astronaut Maneuvering Unit (AMU), and precision landing capability.
  • Scientific objectives included obtaining zodiacal light and air glow horizon photographs. Two micrometeorite studies were carried out, and there were also one medical and two technological experiments.

Gemini 10:

  • John Young and Michael Collins
  • Launched July 18, 1966; reentered July 21, 1966.
  • Mission included: A rendezvous with the Gemini 8 Agena target and two ExtraVehicular Activity (EVA) walks.
  • There were also 15 scientific, technological, and medical experiments. The scientific experiments were related to:
    1. zodiacal light, synoptic terrain, and synoptic weather photography
    2. micrometeorite collections
    3. UV astronomical camera
    4. ion wake measurements
    5. meteoroid erosion

Gemini 11:

  • Pete Conrad and Richard Gordon
  • Launched September 12, 1966; reentered September 15, 1966.
  • Mission included: The first orbit rendezvous and docking with a target vehicle, two ExtraVehicular Activity (EVA) tests, performing docking practice, docked configuration maneuvers, tethered operations, parking of the Agena target vehicle, and demonstration of an automatic reentry.
  • There were also eight scientific and four technological experiments on board. The scientific experiments were:
    1. synergistic effect of zero-g and radiation on white blood cells
    2. synoptic terrain photography
    3. synoptic weather photography
    4. nuclear emulsionsGemini 12 EVA
    5. air glow horizon photography
    6. UV astronomical photography
    7. Gemini ion wake measurement
    8. dim sky photography

Gemini 12:

  • Jim Lovell and Buzz Aldrin
  • Launched November 11, 1966; reentered November 15, 1966.
  • Mission included: Rendezvous and docking with a target vehicle, conducting three ExtraVehicular Activity (EVA) operations, conducting a tethered station keeping exercise, performing docked maneuvers using the Agena propulsion system to change orbit, and demonstrating an automatic reentry.
  • There were also 14 other experiments on board.

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