Status: Operational 1964. First Launch: 1964-04-08. Last Launch: 1966-11-11. Number: 13 . Thrust: 706 N (158 lbf). Gross mass: 3,851 kg (8,490 lb). Unfuelled mass: 3,396 kg (7,486 lb). Specific impulse: 273 s. Height: 5.67 m (18.60 ft).
It was obvious to NASA that there was a big gap of three to four years between the last Mercury flight and the first scheduled Apollo flight. There would therefore be no experience in the US in understanding the problems of orbital maneuvering, rendezvous, docking, lifting re-entry, and space walking before the Apollo flights, which required all of these to be successfully accomplished to complete the lunar landing mission.
Gemini began as Mercury Mark II to fill this gap. The concept was to enlarge the Mercury capsule's basic design to accommodate two crew, provide it with orbital maneuvering capability, use existing boosters to launch it and an existing upper rocket stage as a docking target. The latest aircraft engineering was exploited , resulting in a modularized design that provided easy access to and changeout of equipment mounted external to the crew's pressure vessel. In many ways the Gemini design was ahead of that of the Apollo, since the project began two years later . The crew station layout was similar to that of the latest military fighters; the capsule was equipped with ejection seats, inertial navigation, the pilot's traditional 8-ball attitude display, and radar. The escape tower used for Mercury was deleted; the propellants used in the Titan II launch vehicle, while toxic, corrosive, poisonous, and self-igniting, did not explode in the manner of the Atlas or Saturn LOX/Kerosene combination. The ejection seats served as the crew escape method in the lower atmosphere, just as in a high-performance aircraft. The seats were also needed for the original landing mode, which involved deployment of a huge inflated Rogallo wing (ancestor of today's hang gliders) with a piloted landing on skids at Edwards Dry Lake. In the event, the wing could not be made to deploy reliably before flights began, so the capsule made a parachute-borne water landing, much to the astronauts' chagrin.
All around the Gemini was considered the ultimate 'pilot's spacecraft', and it was also popular with engineers because of its extremely light weight. The capsule allowed recover of a crew of two for only 50% more than the Mercury capsule weight, and half of the weight per crew member of the Apollo design. The penalty was obvious - it was christened the 'Gusmobile' since diminutive Gus Grissom was the only astronaut who was said to be able to fit into it. The crew member was crammed in, shoulder to shoulder with his partner, his helmet literally scrunched against the hatch, which could be opened for space walks. With the crew unable to fully stretch out unless an EVA was scheduled, living in the capsule was literally painful on the long missions (Gemini 5 and 7). Getting back into the seat and getting the hatch closed in an inflated suit in zero gravity was problematic and would have been impossible if the spacewalking astronaut was incapacitated in even a minor way.
Early on it was proposed that the Gemini could be used for manned circumlunar or lunar missions at a fraction of the cost and much earlier than Apollo. Truth be told, a Gemini launched atop a Titan 3E or Saturn IVB Centaur could have accomplished a circumlunar flight as early as 1966 and, using earth orbit rendezvous techniques, a landing at least a year before Apollo. But the capsule, while perhaps suited as a ferry vehicle to space stations, would have been quite marginal for the lunar mission due to the cramped accommodation. But mainly NASA was fully committed to the Apollo program, which was grounded on a minimum three man crew and minimum 10,000 pound command module weight.
At a cost of 5% of the Apollo project, NASA staged twelve flights, ten of them manned, in the course of which the problems of rendezvous, docking, and learning how to do work in a spacesuit in zero-G were tackled and solved. It is said that not much of this was fed back to Apollo, since the two projects had completely different sets of contractors and there was little cross-fertilization in the rendezvous and docking areas. But it is undeniable that important issues in regard to working in zero-G were discovered and solved and both flight and ground crews gained experience that would make the Apollo flights successful.
Gemini was to have continued to fly into the 1970's as the return capsule of the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory program. However with the MOL's cancellation in 1969 work at McDonnell came to an end and the last models of the finest spacecraft ever built were scrapped.
Unit Cost $: 13.000 million. Crew Size: 2. Habitable Volume: 2.55 m3. RCS total impulse: 1,168 kgf-sec. Spacecraft delta v: 98 m/s (321 ft/sec). Electric System: 151.00 kWh. Electric System: 2.16 average kW.
|Gemini AM American manned spacecraft module. 12 launches, 1964.04.08 (Gemini 1) to 1966.11.11 (Gemini 12).|
|Gemini EM American manned spacecraft module. 12 launches, 1964.04.08 (Gemini 1) to 1966.11.11 (Gemini 12).|
|Gemini: Lunar Gemini The Gusmobile might have gotten on the moon faster, quicker, cheaper (but not better...)|
|Gemini RM American manned spacecraft module. 12 launches, 1964.04.08 (Gemini 1) to 1966.11.11 (Gemini 12).|
|Gemini LOR American manned lunar lander. Study 1961. Original Mercury Mark II proposal foresaw a Gemini capsule and a single-crew open cockpit lunar lander undertaking a lunar orbit rendezvous mission, launched by a Titan C-3.|
|Gemini Lunar Lander American manned lunar lander. Study 1961. A direct lunar lander design of 1961, capable of being launched to the moon in a single Saturn V launch through use of a 2-man Gemini re-entry vehicle instead of the 3-man Apollo capsule.|
|Gemini-Centaur American manned lunar flyby spacecraft. Study 1962. In the first Gemini project plans, it was planned that after a series of test dockings between Gemini and Agena rocket stages, Geminis would dock with Centaur stages for circumlunar flights.|
|Gemini Transport American logistics spacecraft. Study 1963. This Gemini Transport version was proposed as a Gemini program follow-on in 1963. With the extended reentry module, this was the ancestor of the Big Gemini spacecraft of the late 1960's.|
|Gemini Ferry American manned spacecraft. Study 1963. The Gemini Ferry vehicle would have been launched by Titan 3M for space station replenishment.|
|Gemini Ferry AM American manned spacecraft module. Study 1963.|
|Gemini Ferry CM American manned spacecraft module. Study 1963.|
|Gemini Ferry RM American manned spacecraft module. Study 1963.|
|Gemini 1 Manned spacecraft prototype satellite built by McDonnell-Douglas for NASA, USA. Launched 1964.|
|Gemini Pecan American manned space station. Study 1964.|
|Gemini - Saturn I American manned lunar flyby spacecraft. Study 1964. In the spring of 1964, with manned Apollo flights using the Saturn I having been cancelled, use of a Saturn I to launch a Gemini around the moon was studied.|
|Gemini - Saturn IB American manned lunar flyby spacecraft. Study 1964.|
|Gemini - Saturn V American manned lunar orbiter. In late 1964 McDonnell, in addition to a Saturn 1B-boosted circumlunar Gemini, McDonnell proposed a lunar-orbit version of Gemini to comprehensively scout the Apollo landing zones prior to the first Apollo missions.|
|Gemini 3 First spacecraft to maneuver in orbit. First manned flight of Gemini spacecraft. First American to fly twice into space. Manual reentry, splashed down 97 km from carrier.|
|Gemini 4 First American space walk. First American long-duration spaceflight. Astronaut could barely get back into capsule after spacewalk. Failure of spacecraft computer resulted in high-G ballistic re-entry.|
|Gemini - Double Transtage American manned lunar orbiter. Study 1965. In June 1965 astronaut Pete Conrad conspired with the Martin and McDonnell corporations to advocate an early circumlunar flight using Gemini.|
|Gemini 5 First American flight to seize duration record from Soviet Union. Mission plan curtailed due to fuel cell problems; mission incredibly boring, spacecraft just drifting to conserve fuel most of the time. Splashed down 145 km from aim point.|
|GATV 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 Docking Target satellite for NASA, USA. Launched 1965 - 1966.|
|Gemini 7 Record flight duration (14 days) to that date. Incredibly boring mission, made more uncomfortable by the extensive biosensors. Monotony was broken just near the end by the rendezvous with Gemini 6.|
|Gemini 6 First rendezvous of two spacecraft. Originally was to dock with an Agena target, but this blew up on way to orbit. Decision to rendezvous with upcoming Gemini 7 instead. Mission almost lost when booster ignited, then shut down on pad.|
|Extended Mission Gemini American manned spacecraft. Study 1965. A McDonnell concept for using Gemini for extended duration missions. The basic Gemini would dock with an Agena upper stage.|
|Gemini Satellite Inspector American manned spacecraft. Study 1965. A modification of Gemini to demonstrate rendezvous and inspection of noncooperative satellites was proposed. The Gemini would rendezvous with the enormous Pegasus satellite in its 500 x 700 km orbit.|
|Gemini 8 First docking of two spacecraft. After docking with Agena target, a stuck thruster aboard Gemini resulted in the crew nearly blacking out before the resulting spin could be stopped. An emergency landing in the mid-Pacific Ocean followed.|
|Gemini Lunar Surface Rescue Spacecraft American manned lunar lander. Study 1966. This version of Gemini would allow a direct manned lunar landing mission to be undertaken in a single Saturn V flight, although it was only proposed as an Apollo rescue vehicle.|
|Gemini LSRS AM American manned spacecraft module. Study 1966. Calculated mass based on mission requirements, drawing of spacecraft, dimensions of propellant tanks.|
|Gemini LSRS LM American manned spacecraft module. Study 1966. Calculated mass based on mission requirements, drawing of spacecraft, dimensions of propellant tanks.|
|Gemini LSRS LOIM American manned spacecraft module. Study 1966. Calculated mass based on mission requirements, drawing of spacecraft, dimensions of propellant tanks.|
|Gemini LSRS RM American manned spacecraft module. Study 1966. Calculated mass based on mission requirements, drawing of spacecraft.|
|Gemini 9A Planned mission, cancelled when prime crew killed in T-38 trainer crash. All subsequent crew assignments were reshuffled. This ended up determining who would be the first man on the moon.…|
|Gemini 9 Third rendezvous mission of Gemini program. Agena target blew up on way to orbit; substitute target's shroud hung up, docking impossible. EVA almost ended in disaster when astronaut's face plate fogged over; barely able to return to spacecraft.|
|Gemini 10 First free space walk from one spacecraft to another. First rendezvous with two different spacecraft in one flight. Altitude (763 km) record. Exciting mission with successful docking with Agena, flight up to parking orbit where Gemini 8 Agena was stored.|
|Gemini 11 First docking with another spacecraft on first orbit after launch. First test of tethered spacecraft. Speed (8,003 m/s) and altitude (1,372 km) records.|
|Gemini-B Experimental manned spacecraft built by McDonnell-Douglas for USAF, USA. Launched 1966.|
|Gemini 12 First completely successful space walk. Final Gemini flight. Docked and redocked with Agena, demonstrating various Apollo scenarios including manual rendezvous and docking. Successful EVA without overloading suit by use of suitable restraints.|
|Gemini Paraglider American manned spacecraft. The paraglider was supposed to be used in the original Gemini program but delays in getting the wing to deploy reliably resulted in it not being flown.|
|Gemini Observatory American manned spacecraft. Study 1966. Proposed version of Gemini for low-earth orbit solar or stellar astronomy. This would be launched by a Saturn S-IB. It has an enlarged reentry module which seems to be an ancestor of the 'Big Gemini' of 1967.|
|Rescue Gemini American manned rescue spacecraft. Study 1966. A version of Gemini was proposed for rescue of crews stranded in Earth orbit. This version, launched by a Titan 3C, used a transtage for maneuvering.|
|Winged Gemini American manned spaceplane. Study 1966. Winged Gemini was the most radical modification of the basic Gemini reentry module ever considered.|
|Gemini Lunar RM American manned spacecraft module. Study 1967. Calculated mass based on mission requirements, drawing of spacecraft.|
|Gemini Lunar Surface Survival Shelter American manned lunar habitat. Study 1967. Prior to an Apollo moon landing attempt, the shelter would be landed, unmanned, near the landing site of a stranded Apollo Lunar Module.|
|Gemini LSSS LM American manned spacecraft module. Study 1967. Calculated mass based on mission requirements, drawing of spacecraft, dimensions of propellant tanks.|
|Gemini LSSS SM American manned spacecraft module. Study 1967. Calculated mass based on mission requirements, drawing of spacecraft.|
|Gemini LORV American manned lunar orbiter. Study 1967. This version of Gemini was studied as a means of rescuing an Apollo CSM crew stranded in lunar orbit. The Gemini would be launched unmanned on a translunar trajectory by a Saturn V.|
|Gemini LORV RM American manned spacecraft module. Study 1967. Calculated mass based on mission requirements, drawing of spacecraft.|
|Gemini LORV SM American manned spacecraft module. Study 1967. Calculated mass based on mission requirements, drawing of spacecraft, dimensions of propellant tanks.|
|Big Gemini American manned spacecraft. Reached mockup stage 1967.|
|Big Gemini AM American manned spacecraft module. Reached mockup stage 1967. Earth orbit maneuver and retrofire.|
|Big Gemini CM American manned spacecraft module. Reached mockup stage 1967. Space station resupply.|
|Big Gemini RV American manned spacecraft module. Reached mockup stage 1967. Crew and cargo return.|
|Gemini B American manned spacecraft. Cancelled 1969. Gemini was extensively redesigned for the MOL Manned Orbiting Laboratory program. The resulting Gemini B, although externally similar, was essentially a completely new spacecraft.|
|Gemini Technical Description Gemini System Details|
|By Gemini to Mars! In the 1960's many considered use of the cramped two-man Gemini reentry vehicle for journeys to the moon problematic. But there was even a proposal for use of Gemini on a mission to Mars…|
|Gemini6 in orbit|
Gemini6 in orbit view e
Credit: © Mark Wade
|Gemini Control Panel|
Control panel of the basic Gemini (454 x 383 pixel image).
|Gemini Control Panel|
Control panel of the basic Gemini (903 x 765 pixel image).
|Gemini Control Panel|
Gemini Control Panel - close-up of the second astronaut (right hand side) controls.
|Gemini Control Panel|
Gemini Control Panel - close-up of the centre panel and overhead controls.
|Gemini Control Panel|
Gemini Control Panel - close-up of the command astronaut (left hand seat) controls.
|Titan 2 Gemini|
The Titan 2 ICBM was used for launch of the Gemini manned spacecraft.
|Gemini Control Panel|
Gemini control panel - close-up of the pedestal controls between the two astronauts.
Credit: Manufacturer Image
Credit: Manufacturer Image
Credit: Manufacturer Image
Credit: McDonnell Douglas
|Mercury II Station|
|Early Gemini Concept|
Credit: © Mark Wade
|Gemini6 in orbit|
Gemini6 in orbit view g
|Gemini 6 in orbit|
Gemini 6 in orbit view d
|Gemini6 in orbit|
Gemini6 in orbit view f
|Gemini6 in orbit|
Gemini6 in orbit view j
|Gemini 6 2|
View of Gemini 6 during the Gemini 6 and 7 first space rendezvous.
Credit: © Dan Roam
|Gemini 6 3|
View of Gemini 6 during the Gemini 6 and 7 first space rendezvous.
View of Gemini 6 during the Gemini 6 and 7 first space rendezvous.
|Gemini6 in orbit|
Gemini6 in orbit view
Modest modifications of Gemini proposed by McDonnell Douglas as a follow-on to the basic program (927 x 723 pixel version).
Credit: McDonnell Douglas
Gemini docked to Agena
Credit: © Mark Wade
|Gemini with MORL|
Gemini docked with MORL. Note lack of a docking hatch in Gemini is accommodated by having docking collar as large as the base of the Gemini re-entry vehicle itself.
Credit: US Air Force
More advanced versions of Gemini proposed by McDonnell Douglas as a follow-on to the basic program (927 x 723 pixel version).
Credit: McDonnell Douglas
Gemini Docked to Centaur for Circumlunar Flight
Credit: © Mark Wade
Gemini for lunar landing with Centaur and Langley open cockpit Lunar Module
Credit: © Mark Wade
Translunar Gemini with Double Transtage - LEO Configuration
Credit: © Mark Wade
Credit: McDonnell Douglas
Drawing of Gemini Ferry in flight.
Credit: McDonnell Douglas
A version of Gemini was proposed for rescue of crews stranded in Earth orbit. This version, launched by a Titan 3C, used a transtage for manoeuvring. The basic Gemini re-entry module was extended to 120 inches (3.05 m) diameter to provide a passenger compartment for the rescued crew. The same concept would eventually be used for Big Gemini.
Credit: McDonnell Douglas
Top view of Winged Gemini, the most radical modification proposed. Drawing on the results of the ASSET subscale winged re-entry vehicle program, McDonnell proposed a version of the spacecraft using the same internal systems but capable of a piloted runway landing. The spacecraft was designed for launch by the standard Titan 2 Gemini Launch Vehicle.
Credit: McDonnell Douglas
Gemini Transport version proposed as a Gemini program follow-on. With the extended re-entry module, this is the ancestor of the Big Gemini spacecraft proposed in the late 1960's.
Credit: McDonnell Douglas
|Gemini Lunar SRS|
Cutaway model of the Gemini Lunar Surface Rescue Spacecraft, with landing gear in stowed position. This version of Gemini would allow a direct lunar landing mission on a single Saturn V flight. It was proposed as an Apollo rescue vehicle. A single Gemini LSSS would be landed near the planned lunar landing site before an Apollo mission. In the event of a failure of the Apollo lunar module, the Gemini LSSS would return the two Apollo astronauts on the surface directly to earth.
Credit: McDonnell Douglas
Gemini Lunar Orbit Rescue Vehicle, studied for rescue of an Apollo crew stranded in lunar orbit. Gemini would be launched by Saturn V. Following lunar orbit insertion it would rendezvous with the disabled Apollo. The three Apollo crew members would transfer by spacewalk to a compartment in the stretched Gemini capsule. It would then boost itself on a transearth trajectory. This was rejected in favour of the more flexible Gemini Lunar Surface Rescue Vehicle.
Credit: McDonnell Douglas
|Gemini Lunar SSS|
Drawing of the Gemini Lunar Surface Survival Shelter. The shelter would be landed, unmanned, near the landing site of a stranded Apollo Lunar Module. In the event the LM ascent stage would not light to take the crew back to the Apollo CSM in lunar orbit, the two astronauts could go to the shelter and await a rescue mission. The astronaut in the CSM would return alone in the Apollo spacecraft.
Credit: McDonnell Douglas
|Big Gemini Mockup|
Mock-up of the Big Gemini re-entry module on display at the McDonnell plant, St Louis, in 1967. The large windows allowed viewing of the interior of the mock-up and were not going to be part of the flight version! By simply adding a passenger compartment behind the basic Gemini B, McDonnell produced a ballistic re-entry vehicle with the same total mass and base diameter as the Apollo Command Module, but over twice the cargo capacity.
Credit: McDonnell Douglas
Comparison of the Mercury and Gemini capsules.
Credit: © Mark Wade
Credit: © Mark Wade
|Gemini 2 view|
Credit: © Mark Wade
Astronauts Cooper and Conrad in Gemini spacecraft just after insertion
Astronaut Charles Conrad inside the Gemini 5 spacecraft after launch
Astronauts Scott and Armstrong inserted into Gemini 8 spacecraft
Gemini 8 spacecraft hoisted aboard the U.S.S. Leonard F. Mason
View of the nose of the Gemini 9 spacecraft taken from hatch of spacecraft
Close-up view of Gemini 9 spacecraft taken during EVA
Gemini 9-A spacecraft touches down in the Atlantic at end of mission
Gemini 9 spacecraft recovery operations
Gemini 9 astronauts await recovery operations
Gemini 9-A spacecraft touches down in the Atlantic at end of mission
In 1958 H. Kurt Strass and Caldwell C. Johnson of NASA's Space Task Group at Langley Field, Virginia.sketched a spacecraft design concept for a two-man orbiting laboratory to be launched by an Atlas-Vega booster. This was one of the earliest sketches of a two-crew Mercury follow-on. The Vega stage was dropped in favour of the Agena a year later, and a similar one-crew Mercury-Agena space station was proposed by McDonnell some years later.
H. Kurt Strass of the Space Task Group (STG) at Langley Field, Virginia described some preliminary ideas of STG planners regarding a follow-on to Mercury: (1) an enlarged Mercury capsule to place two men in orbit for three days; (2) a two-man Mercury capsule and a large cylindrical structure to support a two-week mission. (In its 1960 budget, NASA had requested $2 million to study methods of constructing a manned orbiting laboratory or converting the Mercury spacecraft into a two-man laboratory for extended space missions.) Additional Details: here....
DeMarquis D. Wyatt, Assistant to the Director of Space Flight Development, testified before Congress in support of NASA's request for $3 million in Fiscal Year 1960 for research on techniques and problems of space rendezvous. Wyatt explained that logistic support for a manned space laboratory, a possible post-Mercury flight program, depended upon resolving several key problems and making rendezvous in orbit practical. Among key problems he cited were establishment of methods for fixing the relative positions of two objects in space; development of accurate target acquisition devices to enable supply craft to locate the space station; development of guidance systems to permit precise determination of flight paths; and development of reliable propulsion systems for maneuvering in orbit.
H. Kurt Strass of Space Task Group's Flight Systems Division (FSD) recommended the establishment of a committee to consider the preliminary design of a two-man space laboratory. Representatives from each of the specialist groups within FSD would work with a special projects group, the work to culminate in a set of design specifications for the two-man Mercury.
The Space Task Group notified the Ames Research Center that preliminary planning for the modification of the Mercury spacecraft to accomplish controlled reentry had begun, and Ames was invited to participate in the study. Preliminary specifications for the modified spacecraft were to be ready by the end of the month. This program was later termed Mercury Mark II and eventually Project Gemini.
Representatives of NASA's research centers gathered at Langley Research Center to present papers on current programs related to space rendezvous and to discuss possible future work on rendezvous. During the first day of the conference, papers were read on the work in progress at Langley, Ames, Lewis, and Flight Research Centers, Marshall Space Flight Center, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The second day was given to a roundtable discussion. All felt strongly that rendezvous would soon be essential, that the technique should be developed immediately, and that NASA should make rendezvous experiments to develop the technique and establish the feasibility of rendezvous.
The document comprised five papers presented by STG personnel at a series of meetings with personnel from NASA Headquarters and various NASA field installations during April and May. Primary focus was a manned circumlunar mission, or lunar reconnaissance, but in his summary, Charles J. Donlan, Associate Director (Development), described an intermediate program that might fit into the period between the phasing out of Mercury and the beginning of flight tests of the multimanned vehicle. During this time, 'it is attractive to consider the possibility of a flight-test program involving the reentry unit of the multimanned vehicle which at times we have thought of as a lifting Mercury.' What form such a vehicle might take was uncertain, but it would clearly be a major undertaking; much more information was needed before a decision could be made. To investigate some of the problems of a reentry vehicle with a lift-over-drag ratio other than zero, STG had proposed wind tunnel studies of static and dynamic stability, pressure, and heat transfer at Langley, Arnold Engineering Development Center, and Ames facilities.
NASA's Space Exploration Program Council met in Washington to discuss manned lunar landing. Among the results of the meeting was an agreement that NASA should plan an earth-orbital rendezvous program independent of, although contributing to, the manned lunar program.
Space Task Group management held a Capsule Review Board meeting. The first topic on the agenda was a follow-on Mercury program. Several types of missions were considered, including long-duration, rendezvous, artificial gravity, and flight tests of advanced equipment. Major conclusion was that a follow-on program needed to be specified in greater detail.
McDonnell had been studying the concept of a maneuverable Mercury spacecraft since 1959. On February 1, Space Task Group (STG) Director Robert R. Gilruth assigned James A. Chamberlin, Chief, STG Engineering Division, who had been working with McDonnell on Mercury for more than a year, to institute studies with McDonnell on improving Mercury for future manned space flight programs. Additional Details: here....
Integrated research, development, and applied orbital operations program to cost $1 billion through 1970. A NASA Headquarters working group, headed by Bernard Maggin, completed a staff paper presenting arguments for establishing an integrated research, development, and applied orbital operations program at an approximate cost of $1 billion through 1970. The group identified three broad categories of orbital operations: inspection, ferry, and orbital launch. It concluded that future space programs would require an orbital operations capability and that the development of an integrated program, coordinated with Department of Defense, should begin immediately. The group recommended that such a program, because of its scope and cost, be independent of other space programs and that a project office be established to initiate and implement the program.
Albert C. Hall of The Martin Company proposed to Robert C. Seamans, Jr., NASA's Associate Administrator, that the Titan II be considered as a launch vehicle in the lunar landing program. Although skeptical, Seamans arranged for a more formal presentation the next day. Abe Silverstein, NASA's Director of Space Flight Programs, was sufficiently impressed to ask Director Robert R. Gilruth and STG to study the possible uses of Titan II. Silverstein shortly informed Seamans of the possibility of using the Titan II to launch a scaled-up Mercury spacecraft.
Martin Company personnel briefed NASA officials in Washington, D.C., on the Titan II weapon system. Albert C. Hall of Martin had contacted NASA's Associate Administrator, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., on April 7 to propose the Titan II as a launch vehicle for a lunar landing program. Although skeptical, Seamans nevertheless arranged for a more formal presentation. Abe Silverstein, NASA Director, Office of Space Flight Programs, was sufficiently impressed by the Martin briefing to ask Director Robert R. Gilruth and Space Task Group to study possible Titan II uses. Silverstein shortly informed Seamans of the possibility of using the Titan II to launch a scaled-up Mercury spacecraft.
Space Task Group (STG) issued a Statement of Work for a Design Study of a Manned Spacecraft Paraglide Landing System. The purpose of the study was to define and evaluate problem areas and to establish the design parameters of a system to provide spacecraft maneuverability and controlled energy descent and landing by aerodynamic lift. McDonnell was already at work on a modified Mercury spacecraft; the proposed paraglide study was to be carried on concurrently to allow the paraglide landing system to be incorporated as an integral subsystem. STG Director Robert R. Gilruth requested that contracts for the design study be negotiated with three companies which already had experience with the paraglide concept: Goodyear Aircraft Corporation, Akron, Ohio; North American Aviation, Inc., Space and Information Systems Division, Downey, California; and Ryan Aeronautical Company, San Diego, California. Each contract would be funded to a maximum of $100,000 for a study to be completed within two and one-half months from the date the contract was awarded. Gilruth expected one of these companies subsequently to be selected to develop and manufacture a paraglide system based on the approved design concept. In less than three weeks, contracts had been awarded to all three companies. Before the end of June, the design study formally became Phase I of the Paraglider Development Program.
James A. Chamberlin, Chief, Engineering Division, Space Task Group (STG), briefed Director Robert R. Gilruth, senior STG staff members, and George M. Low and John H. Disher of NASA Headquarters on McDonnell's advanced capsule design. The design was based on increased component and systems accessibility, reduced manufacturing and checkout time, easier pilot insertion and emergency egress procedures, greater reliability, and adaptability to a paraglide landing system. It departed significantly from Mercury capsule design in placing most components outside the pressure vessel and increasing retrograde and posigrade rocket performance. The group was reluctant to adopt what seemed to be a complete redesign of the Mercury spacecraft, but it decided to meet again on June 12 to review the most desirable features of the new design. After discussing most of these items at the second meeting, the group decided to ask McDonnell to study a minimum-modification capsule to provide an 18-orbit capability.
Walter F. Burke of McDonnell summarized the company's studies of the redesigned Mercury spacecraft for Space Task Group's senior staff. McDonnell had considered three configurations: (1) the minimum-change capsule, modified only to improve accessibility and handling, with an adapter added to carry such items as extra batteries; (2) a reconfigured capsule with an ejection seat installed and most of the equipment exterior to the pressure vessel on highly accessible pallets; and (3) a two-man capsule, similar to the reconfigured capsule except for the modification required for two rather than one-man operation. The capsule would be brought down on two Mercury-type main parachutes, the ejection seat serving as a redundant system. In evaluating the trajectory of the two-man capsule, McDonnell used Atlas Centaur booster performance data.
Representatives of NASA and McDonnell met to decide what course McDonnell's work on the advanced Mercury should take. The result: McDonnell was to concentrate all its efforts on two versions of the advanced spacecraft. The first required minimum changes; it was to be capable of sustaining one man in space for 18 orbits. The second, a two-man version capable of advanced missions, would require more radical modifications.
After the 2-man space concept (later designated Project Gemini) was introduced in May 1961, a briefing between McDonnell and NASA personnel was held on the matter. As a result of this meeting, space flight design effort was concentrated on the 18-orbit 1-man Mercury and on a 2-man spacecraft capable of advanced missions.
Fred J. Sanders and three other McDonnell engineers arrived at Langley Research Center to help James A. Chamberlin and other Space Task Group (STG) engineers who had prepared a report on the improved Mercury concept, now known as Mercury Mark II. Then, with the assistance of Warren J. North of NASA Headquarters Office of Space Flight Programs, the STG group prepared a preliminary Project Development Plan to be submitted to NASA Headquarters. Although revised six times before the final version was submitted on October 27, the basic concepts of the first plan remained unchanged in formulating the program.
John C. Houbolt of Langley Research Center made a presentation to STG on rendezvous and the lunar orbit rendezvous plan. At this time James A. Chamberlin of STG requested copies of all of Houbolt's material because of the pertinence of this work to the Mercury Mark II program and other programs then under consideration.
Martin Company received informal indications from the Air Force that Titan II would be selected as the launch vehicle for NASA's advanced Mercury. Martin, Air Force, and NASA studied the feasibility of modifying complex 19 at Cape Canaveral from the Titan weapon system configuration to the Mercury Mark II launch vehicle configuration.
James A. Chamberlin, Chief of Space Task Group (STG) Engineering Division, expecting approval of the Mark II spacecraft program within 30 days, urged STG Director Robert R. Gilruth to begin reorienting McDonnell, the proposed manufacturer, to the new program. To react quickly once the program was approved, McDonnell had to have an organization set up, personnel assigned, and adequate staffing ensured. Chamberlin suggested an amendment to the existing letter contract under which McDonnell had been authorized to procure items for Mercury Mark II. This amendment would direct McDonnell to devote efforts during the next 30 days to organizing and preparing to implement its Mark II role.
Space Task Group (STG), assisted by George M. Low, NASA Assistant Director for Space Flight Operations, and Warren J. North of Low's office, prepared a project summary presenting a program of manned spaceflight for 1963-1965. This was the final version of the Project Development Plan, work on which had been initiated August 14. Additional Details: here....
Space Task Group's Engineering Division Chief James A. Chamberlin and Director Robert R. Gilruth briefed NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., at NASA Headquarters on the Mercury Mark II proposal. Specific approval was not granted, but Chamberlin and Gilruth left Washington convinced that program approval would be forthcoming.
McDonnell submitted to Manned Spacecraft Center the detail specification of the Mercury Mark II spacecraft. A number of features closely resembled those of the Mercury spacecraft. Among these were the aerodynamic shape, tractor rocket escape tower, heatshield, impact bag to attenuate landing shock, and the spacecraft-launch vehicle adapter. Salient differences from the Mercury concept included housing many of the mission-sustaining components in an adapter that would be carried into orbit rather than being jettisoned following launch, bipropellant thrusters to effect orbital maneuvers, crew ejection seats for emergency use, onboard navigation system (inertial platform, computers, radar, etc.), and fuel cells as electrical power source in addition to silver-zinc batteries. The long-duration mission was viewed as being seven days.
Manned Spacecraft Center notified North American to proceed with Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. A letter contract, NAS 9-167, followed on November 21; contract negotiations were completed February 9, 1962; and the final contract was awarded on April 16, 1962. Phase I, the design studies that ran from the beginning of June to mid-August 1961, had already demonstrated the feasibility of the paraglider concept. Phase II-A, System Research and Development, called for an eight-month effort to develop the design concept of a paraglider landing system and to determine its optimal performance configuration. This development would lay the groundwork for Phase II, Part B, comprising prototype fabrication, unmanned and manned flight testing, and the completion of the final system design. Ultimately Phase III-Implementation-would see the paraglider being manufactured and pilots trained to fly it.
Milton W. Rosen, Director of Launch Vehicles and Propulsion in NASA's Office of Manned Space Flight, presented recommendations on rendezvous to D. Brainerd Holmes, Director of Manned Space Flight. The working group Rosen chaired had completed a two-week study of launch vehicles for manned spaceflight, examining most intensively the technical and operational problems posed by orbital rendezvous. Because the capability for rendezvous in space was essential to a variety of future missions, the group agreed that 'a vigorous high priority rendezvous development effort must be undertaken immediately.' Its first recommendation was that a program be instituted to develop rendezvous capability on an urgent basis.
Representatives of the Space and Information Systems Division of North American, Langley Research Center, Flight Research Center (formerly High Speed Flight Station), and Manned Spacecraft Center met to discuss implementing Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. They agreed that paraglider research and development would be oriented toward the Mercury Mark II project and that paraglider hardware and requirements should be compatible with the Mark II spacecraft. Langley Research Center would support the paraglider program with wind tunnel tests. Flight Research Center would oversee the paraglider flight test program. Coordination of the paraglider program would be the responsibility of Manned Spacecraft Center.
Recommendation that the weapon system of the Titan II, with minimal modifications, be approved for the Mercury Mark II rendezvous mission. On the basis of a report of the Large Launch Vehicle Planning Group, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., NASA Associate Administrator, and John H. Rubel, Department of Defense Deputy Director for Defense Research and Engineering, recommended to Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara that the weapon system of the Titan II, with minimal modifications, be approved for the Mercury Mark II rendezvous mission. The planning group had first met in August 1961 to survey the Nation's launch vehicle program and was recalled in November to consider Titan II, Titan II-1/2, and Titan III. On November 16, McNamara and NASA Administrator James E. Webb had also begun discussing the use of Titan II.
D. Brainerd Holmes, NASA Director of Manned Space Flight, outlined the preliminary project development plan for the Mercury Mark II program in a memorandum to NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr. The primary objective of the program was to develop rendezvous techniques; important secondary objectives were long-duration flights, controlled land recovery, and astronaut training. The development of rendezvous capability, Holmes stated, was essential:
Robert R. Gilruth, Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center, transmitted the procurement plan for the Mark II spacecraft to NASA Headquarters for approval. This included scope of work, plans, type of contract administration, contract negotiation and award plan, and schedule of procurement actions. At Headquarters, D. Brainerd Holmes, Director of Manned Space Flight, advised Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., that the extended flight would be conducted in the last half of calender year 1963 and that the rendezvous flight tests would begin in early 1964. Because of short lead time available to meet the Mark II delivery and launch schedules, it was requested that fiscal year 1962 funds totaling $75.8 million be immediately released to Manned Spacecraft Center in preparation for the negotiation of contracts for the spacecraft and for the launch vehicle modifications and procurements.
NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., and DOD Deputy Director of Defense Research and Engineering John H. Rubel recommended to Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and NASA Administrator James E. Webb that detailed arrangements for support of the Mercury Mark II spacecraft and the Atlas-Agena vehicle used in rendezvous experiments be planned directly between NASA's Office of Manned Space Flight and the Air Force and other DOD organizations. NASA's primary responsibilities would be the overall management and direction for the Mercury Mark II/ Agena rendezvous development and experiments. The Air Force responsibilities would include acting as NASA contractor for the Titan II launch vehicle and for the Atlas-Agena vehicle to be used in rendezvous experiments. DOD's responsibilities would include assistance in the provision and selection of astronauts and the provision of launch, range, and recovery support, as required by NASA.
The document approved was accompanied by a memorandum from Colonel Daniel D. McKee of NASA Headquarters stressing the large advances possible in a short time through the Mark II project and their potential application in planned Apollo missions, particularly the use of rendezvous techniques to achieve manned lunar landing earlier than direct ascent would make possible.
Recommendations to Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara on the division of effort between NASA and DOD in the Mark II program. NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., and John H. Rubel, Department of Defense (DOD) Deputy Director for Defense Research and Engineering, offered recommendations to Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara on the division of effort between NASA and DOD in the Mark II program. They stressed NASA's primary responsibility for managing and directing the program, although attaining the program objectives would be facilitated by using DOD (especially Air Force) resources in a contractor relation to NASA. In addition, DOD personnel would aquire useful experience in manned spaceflight design, development, and operations. Space Systems Division of Air Force Systems Command became NASA's contractor for developing, procuring, and launching Titan II and Atlas-Agena vehicles for the Mark II program.
In Houston, Director Robert R. Gilruth of Manned Spacecraft Center announced plans to develop a two-man Mercury capsule. Built by McDonnell, it would be similar in shape to the Mercury capsule but slightly larger and from two to three times heavier. Its booster would be a modified Titan II. A major program objective would be orbital rendezvous. The two-man spacecraft would be launched into orbit and would attempt to rendezvous with an Agena stage put into orbit by an Atlas. Total cost of 12 capsules plus boosters and other equipment was estimated at $500 million. The two-man flight program would begin in the 1963-1964 period with several unmanned ballistic flights to test overall booster-spacecraft compatibility and system engineering. Several manned orbital flights would follow. Besides rendezvous flybys of the target vehicle, actual docking missions would be attempted in final flights. The spacecraft would be capable of missions of a week or more to train pilots for future long-duration circumlunar and lunar landing flights. The Mercury astronauts would serve as pilots for the program, but additional crew members might be phased in during the latter portions of the program.
NASA laid down guidelines for the development of the two-man spacecraft in a document included as Exhibit "A" in NASA's contract with McDonnell. The development program had five specific objectives: (1) performing Earth-orbital flights lasting up to 14 days, (2) determining the ability of man to function in a space environment during extended missions, (3) demonstrating rendezvous and docking with a target vehicle in Earth orbit as an operational technique, (4) developing simplified countdown procedures and techniques for the rendezvous mission compatible with spacecraft launch vehicle and target vehicle performance, and (5) making controlled land landing the primary recovery mode. The two-man spacecraft would retain the general aerodynamic shape and basic systems concepts of the Mercury spacecraft but would also include several important changes: increased size to accommodate two astronauts; ejection seats instead of the escape tower; an adapter, containing special equipment not needed for reentry and landing, to be left in orbit; housing of most system hardware outside the pressurized compartment for ease of access; modular systems design rather than integrated; spacecraft systems for orbital maneuvering and docking; and a system for controlled land landing. Target date for completing the program was October 1965.
Colonel Daniel D. McKee of NASA Headquarters compiled instructions for an Air Force and NASA ad hoc working group established to draft an agreement on the respective responsibilities of the two organizations in the Mark II program. Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) Director Robert R. Gilruth assigned his special assistant, Paul E. Purser, to head the MSC contingent.
A week after receiving it, McDonnell accepted Letter Contract NAS 9-170 to 'conduct a research and development program which will result in the development to completion of a Two-Man Spacecraft.' McDonnell was to design and manufacture 12 spacecraft, 15 launch vehicle adapters, and 11 target vehicle docking adapters, along with static test articles and all ancillary hardware necessary to support spacecraft operations. Major items to be furnished by the Government to McDonnell to be integrated into the spacecraft were the paraglider, launch vehicle and facilities, astronaut pressure suits and survival equipment, and orbiting target vehicle. The first spacecraft, with launch vehicle adapter, was to be ready for delivery in 15 months, the remaining 11 to follow at 60-day intervals. Initial Government obligation under the contract was $25 million.
Titan II, an advanced ICBM and the booster designated for NASA's two-man orbital flights, was successfully captive-fired for the first time at the Martin Co.'s Denver facilities. The test not only tested the flight vehicle but the checkout and launch equipment intended for operational use.
NASA issued the Gemini Operational and Management Plan, which outlined the roles and responsibilities of NASA and Department of Defense in the Gemini (Mercury Mark II) program. NASA would be responsible for overall program planning, direction, systems engineering, and operation-including Gemini spacecraft development; Gemini/Agena rendezvous and docking equipment development; Titan II/Gemini spacecraft systems integration; launch, flight, and recovery operations; command, tracking, and telemetry during orbital operations; and reciprocal support of Department of Defense space projects and programs within the scope of the Gemini program. Department of Defense would be responsible for: Titan II development and procurement, Atlas procurement, Agena procurement, Atlas-Agena systems integration, launch of Titan II and Atlas-Agena vehicles, range support, and recovery support. A slightly revised version of the plan was signed in approval on March 27 by General Bernard A. Schriever, Commander, Air Force Systems Command, for the Air Force, and D. Brainerd Holmes, Director of Manned Space Flight, for NASA.
The name had been suggested by Alex P. Nagy of NASA Headquarters because the twin stars Castor and Pollux in constellation Gemini (the Twins) seemed to him to symbolize the program's two-man crew, its rendezvous mission, and its relation to Mercury. Coincidentally, the astronomical symbol (II) for Gemini, the third constellation of the zodiac, corresponded neatly to the Mark II designation.
Director Robert R. Gilruth of Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) appointed James A. Chamberlin, Chief of Engineering Division, as Manager of Gemini Project Office (GPO). The next day MSC advised McDonnell, by amendment No. 1 to letter contract NAS 9-170, that GPO had been established. It was responsible for planning and directing all technical activities and all contractor activities within the scope of the contract.
Manned Spacecraft Center completed an analysis of possible power sources for the Gemini spacecraft. Major competitors were fuel cells and solar cells. Although any system selected would require much design, development, and testing effort, the fuel cell designed by General Electric Company, West Lynn, Massachusetts, appeared to offer decided advantages in simplicity, weight, and compatiblity with Gemini requirements over solar cells or other fuel cells. A basic feature of the General Electric design, and the source of its advantages over its competitors, was the use of ion-exchange membranes rather than gas-diffusion electrodes. On March 20, 1962, McDonnell let a $9 million subcontract to General Electric to design and develop fuel cells for the Gemini spacecraft.
Manned Spacecraft Center notified Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama (which was responsible for managing NASA's Agena Programs) that Project Gemini required 11 Atlas-Agenas as rendezvous targets and requested Marshall to procure them. The procurement request was accompanied by an Exhibit 'A' describing proposed Gemini rendezvous techniques and defining the purpose of Project Gemini as development and demonstrating Earth-orbit rendezvous techniques as early as possible. If feasible, these techniques could provide a practical base for lunar and other deep space missions. Exhibit B to the purchase request was a Statement of Work for Atlas-Agena vehicles to be used in Project Gemini. Air Force Space Systems Division, acting as a NASA contractor, would procure the 11 vehicles required. Among the modifications needed to change the Atlas-Agena into the Agena rendezvous vehicle were: incorporation of radar and visual navigation and tracking aids; main engines capable of multiple restarts; addition of a secondary propulsion system, stabilization system, and command system; incorporation of an external rendezvous docking unit; and provision of a jettisonable aerodynamic fairing to enclose the docking unit during launch. The first rendezvous vehicle was to be delivered to the launch site in 20 months, with the remaining 10 to follow at 60-day intervals.
A meeting on the technical aspects of earth orbit rendezvous was held at NASA Headquarters. Representatives from various NASA offices attended: Arthur L. Rudolph, Paul J. DeFries, Fred L. Digesu, Ludie G. Richard, John W. Hardin, Jr., Ernst D. Geissler, and Wilson B. Schramm of Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC); James T. Rose of MSC; Friedrich O. Vonbun, Joseph W. Siry, and James J. Donegan of Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC); Douglas R. Lord, James E. O'Neill, Richard J. Hayes, Warren J. North, and Daniel D. McKee of the NASA Office of Manned Space Flight (OMSF). Joseph F. Shea, Deputy Director for Systems, OMSF, who had called the meeting, defined in general terms the goal of the meeting: to achieve agreement on the approach to be used in developing the earth orbit rendezvous technique. After two days of discussions and presentations, the Group approved conclusions and recommendations:
AiResearch Manufacturing Company, a division of the Garrett Corporation, Los Angeles, California, received a $15 million subcontract from McDonnell to manufacture the environmental control system (ECS) for the Gemini spacecraft. This was McDonnell's first purchase order on behalf of the Gemini contract. Patterned after the ECS used in Project Mercury (also built by AiResearch), the Gemini ECS consisted of suit, cabin, and coolant circuits, and an oxygen supply, all designed to be manually controlled whenever possible during all phases of flight. Primary functions of the ECS were controlling suit and cabin atmosphere, controlling suit and equipment temperatures, and providing drinking water for the crew and storage or disposal of waste water.
Martin-Baltimore submitted its initial proposal for the redundant flight control and hydraulic subsystems for the Gemini launch vehicle; on March 1, Martin was authorized to proceed with study and design work. The major change in the flight control system from Titan II missile to Gemini launch vehicle was substitution of the General Electric Mod IIIG radio guidance system (RGS) and Titan I three-axis reference system for the Titan II inertial guidance system. Air Force Space Systems Division issued a letter contract to General Electric Company, Syracuse, New York, for the RGS on June 27. Technical liaison, computer programs, and ground-based computer operation and maintenance were contracted to Burroughs Corporation, Paoli, Pennsylvania, on July 3.
McDonnell let a $32 million subcontract to North American Aviation's Rocktdyne Division, Sacramento, California, to build liquid propulsion systems for the Gemini spacecraft. Two separate systems were required: the orbit attitude and maneuvering system (OAMS) and the reaction or reentry control system (RCS). The OAMS, located in the adapter section, had four functions: (1) providing the thrust required to enable the spacecraft to rendezvous with the target vehicle; (2) controlling the attitude of the spacecraft in orbit; (3) separating the spacecraft from the second stage of the launch vehicle and inserting it in orbit; and (4) providing abort capability at altitudes between 300,000 feet and orbital insertion. The OAMS initially comprised 16 ablative thrust chambers; eight 25-pound thrusters to control the spacecraft attitude in pitch, yaw, and roll axes; and eight 100-pound thrusters to maneuvre the spacecraft axially, vertically, and laterally. Rather than providing a redundant system, only critical components were to be duplicated. The RCS was located forward of the crew compartment in an independent RCS module. It consisted of two completely independent systems, each containing eight 25-pound thrusters very similar to those used in the OAMS. Purpose of the RCS was to maintain the attitude of the spacecraft during the reentry phase of the mission.
Representatives of McDonnell, North American, Manned Spacecraft Center, and NASA Headquarters met to begin coordinating the interface between spacecraft and paraglider. The first problem was to provide adequate usable stowage volume for the paraglider landing system within the spacecraft. The external geometry of the spacecraft had already been firmly established, so the problem narrowed to determining possible volumetric improvements within the spacecraft's recovery compartment.
Harold I. Johnson, Head of the Spacecraft Operations Branch of Manned Spacecraft Center's Flight Crew Operations Division, circulated a memorandum on proposed training devices for Project Gemini. A major part of crew training depended on several different kinds of trainers and simulators corresponding to various aspects of proposed Gemini missions. Overall training would be provided by the flight simulator, capable of simulating a complete mission profile including sight, sound, and vibration cues. Internally identical to the spacecraft, the flight simulator formed part of the mission simulator, a training complex for both flight crews and ground controllers that also included the mission control center and remote site displays. Training for launch and re-entry would be provided by the centrifuge at the Naval Air Development Center, Johnsville, Pennsylvania. A centrifuge gondola would be equipped with a mock-up of the Gemini spacecraft's interior. A static article spacecraft would serve as an egress trainer, providing flight crews with the opportunity to practice normal and emergency methods of leaving the spacecraft after landings on either land or water. To train flight crews in land landing, a boilerplate spacecraft equipped with a full-scale paraglider wing would be used in a flight program consisting of drops from a helicopter. A docking trainer, fitted with actual docking hardware and crew displays and capable of motion in six degrees of freedom, would train the flight crew in docking operations. Other trainers would simulate major spacecraft systems to provide training in specific flight tasks.
Westinghouse Electric Corporation, Baltimore, Maryland, received a $6.8 million subcontract from McDonnell to provide the rendezvous radar and transponder system for the Gemini spacecraft. Purpose of the rendezvous radar, sited in the recovery section of the spacecraft, was to locate and track the target vehicle during rendezvous maneuvers. The transponder, a combined receiver and transmitter designed to transmit signals automatically when triggered by an interrogating signal, was located in the Agena target vehicle.
McDonnell awarded a $6.5 million subcontract to Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota, to provide the attitude control and maneuvering electronics system for the Gemini spacecraft. This system commanded the spacecraft's propulsion systems, providing the circuitry which linked the astronaut's operation of his controls to the actual firing of thrusters in the orbit attitude and maneuvering system or the reaction control system.
North American to develop an emergency parachute recovery system for flight test vehicles of the Paraglider Development Program. Manned Spacecraft Center directed North American to design and develop an emergency parachute recovery system for both the half-scale and full-scale flight test vehicles required by Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. They further authorized North American to subcontract the emergency recovery system to Northrop Corporation's Radioplane Division, Van Nuys, California. North American awarded the $225,000 subcontract to Radioplane on March 16. This was one of two major subcontracts led by North American for Phase II-A. The other, for $227,000, went to Goodyear to study materials and test fabrics for inflatable structures.
Gemini Project Office (GPO) decided that seat ejection was to be initiated manually, with the proviso that the design must allow for the addition of automatic initiation if this should later become a requirement. Both seats had to eject simultaneously if either seat ejection system was energized. The ejection seat was to provide the crew a means of escaping from the Gemini spacecraft in an emergency while the launch vehicle was still on the launch pad, during the initial phase of powered flight (to about 60,000 feet), or in case of paraglider failure after reentry. In addition to the seat, the escape system included a hatch actuation system to open the hatches before ejection, a rocket catapult to propel the seat from the spacecraft, a personnel parachute system to sustain the astronaut after his separation from the seat, and survival equipment for the astronaut's use after landing. At a meeting on March 29, representatives of McDonnell, GPO, Life Systems Division, and Flight Crew Operations Division agreed that a group of specialists should get together periodically to monitor the development of the ejection seat, its related components, and the attendant testing. Although ejection seats had been widely used in military aircraft for years, Gemini requirements, notably for off-the-pad abort capability, were beyond the capabilities of existing flight-qualified systems. McDonnell awarded a $1.8 million subcontract to Weber Aircraft at Burbank, California, a division of Walter Kidde and Company, Inc, for the Gemini ejection seats on April 9; a $741,000 subcontract went to Rocker Power, Inc., Mesa, Arizona, on May 15 for the escape system rocket catapult.
McDonnell awarded AiResearch a $5.5 million subcontract to provide the reactant supply system for the Gemini spacecraft fuel cells. The oxygen and hydrogen required by the fuel cell were stored in two double-walled, vacuum-insulated, spherical containers located in the adapter section of the spacecraft. Reactants were maintained as single-phase fluids (neither gas nor liquid) in their containers by supercritical pressures at cryogenic temperatures. Heat exchangers converted them to gaseous form and supplied them to the fuel cells at operating temperatures.
Advanced Technology Laboratories, Inc, Mountain View, California, received a $3.2 million subcontract from McDonnell to provide the horizon sensor system for the Gemini spacecraft. Two horizon sensors, one primary and one standby, were part of the spacecraft's guidance and control system. They scanned, detected, and tracked the infrared radiation gradient between Earth and space (Earth's infrared horizon) to provide reference signals for aligning the inertial platform and error signals to the attitude control and maneuver electronics for controlling the spacecraft's attitude and its pitch and roll axes.
Thiokol Chemical Corporation, Elkton, Maryland, received a $400,000 sub-contract from McDonnell to provide the retrograde rockets for the Gemini spacecraft. Only slight modification of a motor already in use was planned, and a modest qualification program was anticipated. Primary function of the solid-propellant retrorockets, four of which were located in the adapter section, was to decelerate the spacecraft at the start of the reentry maneuver. A secondary function was to accelerate the spacecraft to aid its separation from the launch vehicle in a high-altitude, suborbital abort.
McDonnell awarded a $4.475 million subcontract to the Western Military Division of Motorola, Inc, Scottsdale, Airzona, to design and build the digital command system (DCS) for the Gemini spacecraft. Consisting of a receiver/decoder package and three relay packages, the DCS received digital commands transmitted from ground stations, decoded them and transferred them to the appropriate spacecraft systems. Commands were of two types: real-time commands to control various spacecraft functions and stored program commands to provide data updating the time reference system and the digital computer.
McDonnell awarded a $2.5 million subcontract to Collins Radio Company, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to provide the voice communications systems for the Gemini spacecraft. Consisting of the voice control center on the center instrument panel of the spacecraft, two ultrahigh-frequency voice transceivers, and one high-frequency voice transceiver, this system provided communications between astronauts, between the blockhouse and the spacecraft during launch, between the spacecraft and ground stations from launch through reentry, and between the spacecraft and recovery forces after landing.
The St. Petersburg, Florida, Aeronautical Division of Minneapolis-Honeywell received an $18 million subcontract from McDonnell to provide the inertial measuring unit (IMU) for the Gemini spacecraft. The IMU was a stabilized inertial platform including an electronic unit and a power supply. Its primary functions were to provide a stable reference for determining spacecraft attitude and to indicate changes in spacecraft velocity.
Following receipt of the program go-ahead on December 22, 1961, McDonnell began defining the Gemini spacecraft. At that time, the basic configuration was already firm. During the three-month period, McDonnell wrote a series of detailed specifications to define the overall vehicle, its performance, and each of the major subsystems. These were submitted to NASA and approved. During the same period, the major subsystems specification control drawings - the specifications against which equipment was procured - were written, negotiated with NASA, and distributed to potential subcontractors for bid.
Representatives of Manned Spacecraft Center, Ames Research Center, Martin, and McDonnell met to discuss the participation of Ames in the Gemini wind tunnel program. The tests were designed to determine: (1) spacecraft and launch vehicle loads and the effect of the hatches on launch stability, using a six percent model of the spacecraft and launch vehicle; (2) the effect of large angles of attach, Reynold's number, and retrorocket jet effects on booster tumbling characteristics and attachment loads; (3) exit characteristics of the spacecraft; and (4) reentry characteristics of the reentry module.
ACF Electronics Division, Riverdale, California, of ACF Industries, Inc., received a $1 million subcontract from McDonnell to provide C- and S-band radar beacons for the Gemini spacecraft. These beacons formed part of the spacecraft's tracking system. With the exception of frequency-dependent differences, the C-band beacon was nearly identical to the S-band beacon. Their function was to provide tracking responses to interrogation signals from ground stations.
NASA planned to select five to ten astronauts to augment the seven-member Mercury astronaut team. The new pilots would participate in support operations in Project Mercury and would join the Mercury astronauts in piloting the two-man Gemini spacecraft. To be chosen, the applicant must (1) be an experienced jet test pilot and preferably be presently engaged in flying high-performance aircraft; (2) have attained experimental flight test status through military service, aircraft industry, or NASA, or must have graduated from a military test pilot school; (3) have earned a degree in the physical or biological sciences or in engineering; (4) be a United States citizen under 35 years of age at the time of selection, six feet or less in height; and (5) be recommended by his parent organization. Pilots meeting these qualifications would be interviewed in July and given written examinations on their engineering and scientific knowledge. Selected applicants would then be thoroughly examined by a group of medical specialists. The training program for the new astronauts would include work with design and development engineers, simulator flying, centrifuge training, additional scientific training, and flights in high-performance aircraft.
McDonnell awarded a $26.6 million subcontract to International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation's Space Guidance Center, Owego, New York, to provide the computer system for the Gemini spacecraft. The digital computer was the heart of the spacecraft's guidance and control system; supplementary equipment consisted of the incremental velocity indicator (which visually displayed changes in spacecraft velocity), the manual data insertion unit (for inserting data into, and displaying readouts from, the computer), and the auxiliary computer power unit (to maintain stable computer input voltages). In addition to providing the computer and its associated equipment, IBM was also responsible for integrating the computer with the systems and components it connected with electrically, including the inertial platform, rendezvous radar, time reference system, digital command system, data acquisition system, attitude control and maneuver electronics, the launch vehicle autopilot, console controls and displays, and aerospace ground equipment.
Studebaker Corporation's CTL Division, Cincinnati, Ohio, received a subcontract for $457,875 from McDonnell to provide two backup heatshields for the Gemini spacecraft, similar in material and fabrication technique to those used in Project Mercury. The CTL heatshield would be used only if a new shield McDonnell was working on proved unusable. Test results from screening advanced heatshield materials had yielded four promising materials. McDonnell had contracted with Vidya, Inc., Palo Alto, California (March 16), and Chicago Midway Laboratories, Chicago, Illinois (mid-April), to test the new ablation materials.
Meeting to review the design and testing philosophy for the half-scale test vehicle (HSTV) in phase II-A. Representatives of North American, NASA Headquarters, Langley Research Center, Flight Research Center, Ames Research Center, and Manned Spacecraft Center met to review the design and testing philosophy for the half-scale test vehicle (HSTV) in phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. After the emergency parachute recovery system had been qualified, the HSTV would be used to evaluate paraglider stability and control in drop tests with the wing predeployed and to provide empirical data on the functioning of vehicle systems in deployment tests. At the end of the review, the NASA Half Scale Test Vehicle Design Review Board recommended 21 changes in test vehicle design and test procedures to North American.
McDonnell proposed to evaluate the Gemini redezvous radar and spacecraft maneuvering system on early flights by using a rendezvous evaluation pod to be ejected from the spacecraft in orbit. Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) liked the idea and asked McDonnell to pursue the study. During the last week in June, McDonnell received approval from MSC to go ahead with the design and development of the rendezvous pod. It would contain a radar transponder, C-band beacon, flashing light, and batteries.
Gemini Project Office directed McDonnell to determine what would be involved in opening and closing the spacecraft hatches in the space environment. Manned Spacecraft Center's Life Systems Division to determine what special pressure suit features would be required to provide crew members with a 15-minute extravehicular capability.
James E. Webb, NASA's new Administrator, reviewed the Gemini program. Project Gemini cost estimates at this point ($744.3 million) had increased substantially over the original estimate of $250 million. Estimated spacecraft cost had risen from $240.5 to $391.6 million; Titan II cost, from $113.0 to $161.8 million; Atlas-Agena, from $88.0 to $106.3 million; and supporting development (including the paraglider program), from $29.0 to $36.8 million. Estimated operations costs had declined from $59.0 to $47.8 million.
At a mechanical systems coordination meeting, representatives of McDonnell and Gemini Project Office decided to develop more powerful retrograde rocket motors for the Gemini spacecraft. The new motors, similar in configuration to the old but with some three times the thrust level, would permit retrorocket aborts at altitudes as low as 72,000 to 75,000 feet. McDonnell's original subcontract with Thiokol was accordingly terminated and a new subcontract was let on July 20. Development of the new motors was expected to cost $1.255 million.
McDonnell subcontracted the parachute landing system for Gemini to Northrop Ventura at an estimated cost of $1,829,272. The parachute landing system was to be used for the first Gemini flight. Gemini Project Office had decided in April on using a single-chute system, one 84.2-foot diameter ring-sail parachute. At a mechanical systems coordination meeting in Houston on May 16-17, however, it was decided to add an 18-foot ring-sail drogue parachute to the system. McDonnell proposed deploying the drogue at 10,000 feet, two seconds after release of the rendezvous and recovery system. Fifteen seconds later the main recovery parachute would switch from single-point to two-point suspension, followed in five seconds by the initiation of reaction control system propellant dump which would take no longer that 105 seconds. The recovery parachute would be jettisoned shortly after impact. At another coordination meeting on May 23-24, Manned Spacecraft Center concurred in this proposed sequencing.
Manned Spacecraft Center concurred in McDonnell's proposed sequencing of the paraglider recovery system. In a normal mission, the drogue parachute (a small parachute to pull the recovery compartment away from the spacecraft and strip the paraglider from the recovery compartment) would deploy at 60,000 feet, followed by the release of the rendezvous and recovery section at 50,000 feet. Starting at 10,000 feet, all reaction control system propellant remaining after the paraglider had been deployed would be dumped. The paraglider wing itself would be jettisoned shortly after touchdown. At this point, plans called for the paraglider to be used on all Gemini missions except the first.
Ames Research Center began the first wind tunnel test of the half-scale inflatable paraglider wing in support of the Paraglider Development Program. This was the first test of a large-scale inflatable paraglider wing in the full-scale test facility. Purpose of the test was to obtain basic aerodynamic and loads data for the combined wing/spacecraft system and to spot and evaluate potential aerodynamic and design problem areas. The flight regimes studied included wing deployment as well as glide, preflare, and flare. In the last stages of the test, the sail ripped. Since the basic objectives had already been achieved, and the failure occurred under conditions more stringent than any expected during flight testing, only minor corrective action was considered necessary and the test was not repeated. Testing ended July 25; at a paraglider landing system coordination meeting on July 26, the Ames test program was considered completed.
North American began a test program to qualify the emergency parachute system for the half-scale flight test vehicle required for Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. The first two drop tests were successful (May 24, June 20); but during the third (July 10), the main recovery parachute failed to deploy. The trouble was analyzed and detailed modifications were worked out at a meeting on August 16 between North American and Northrop Ventura. The modifications proved successful in the fourth test (September 4), and Manned Spacecraft Center concurred with North American in judging the emergency parachute system for the half-scale test program to be qualified.
Representatives of McDonnell, Weber Aircraft, Gemini Procurement Office, Life Systems Division, Gemini Project Office, and US Naval Ordnance Test Station, China Lake, California, concluded plans for development testing of the spacecraft ejection seat. Requirements peculiar to the Gemini spacecraft, in particular off-the-pad abort capability, caused the plan to stress testing from a stationary tower early in the test program. The purpose of these simulated off-the-pad ejection tests was to investigate the effects of varying the center of gravity on the trajectory of the ejected seat and to optimize the timing of the recovery sequence. Tower tests began July 2. They were to be followed by rocket sled ejection tests to investigate simultaneous ejection with open hatches at maximum dynamic pressure. Sled tests actually began on November 9, before tower tests had been completed.
The Air Force School of Aviation Medicine, Brooks Air Force Base, Texas, began a simulated long-duration Gemini mission. Two men were to live for 14 days in a 100-percent-oxygen atmosphere maintained at a pressure of 5 pounds per square inch, the proposed spacecraft environment.
McDonnell was authorized to procure an additional boilerplate spacecraft for parachute landing system tests. The original plan called for McDonnell to use the boilerplate spacecraft fabricated by North American for qualification testing of the emergency parachute system for the paraglider drop tests. McDonnell estimated, however, that modifying the North American boilerplate would cost from $17,000, to $19,000, whereas a new boilerplate would cost from $10,000 to $12.000.
Manned Spacecraft Center authorized North American to go ahead with Phase II, Part B(1), of the Paraglider Development Program. Letter contract NAS 9-539 followed. Under this contract, North American was to design, build and test an advanced two-man paraglider trainer, to initiate a flight simulation program for pilot training, and to complete the design of a man-rated Gemini paraglider wing. The final contract was awarded on October 31, 1962.
A paraglider full-scale test vehicle Design Engineering Inspection was held at North American's Space and Information Systems Division in Downey, California. The Manned Spacecraft Center inspecting team reviewed the design of the full-scale paraglider wing, capsule, and associated equipment, as well as the test program and schedules for Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. The team suggested 33 changes, mostly related to hardware.
Gemini Project Office reported that a thorough study of the reentry tracking histories of the Mercury-Atlas 4, 5, 6 and 7 missions had been completed. The study indicated that a C-band radar tracking beacon should be integrated into the spacecraft reentry section in place of the planned S-band beacon. The change would improve the probability of tracking spacecraft reentry through the ionization zone.
Five ejections were completed by the first week of August. The tests revealed difficulties which led to two important design changes: the incorporation of a drogue-gun method of deploying the personnel parachute and the installation of a three-point restraint-harness-release system similar to those used in military aircraft. August 6-7 representatives of Manned Spacecraft Center and ejection system contractors met to review the status of ejection seat design and the development test program. They decided that off-the-pad ejection tests would not be resumed until ejection seat hardware reflected all major anticipated design features and the personnel parachute had been fully tested. Design changes were checked out in a series of bench and ground firings, concluding on August 30 with a successful inflight drop test of a seat and dummy. Off-the-pad testing resumed in September.
The capability for successfully accomplishing water landings with either the parachute landing system or the paraglider landing system was established as a firm requirement for the Gemini spacecraft. The spacecraft would be required to provide for the safety of the crew and to be seaworthy during a water landing and a 36-hour postlanding period.
Gemini Project Office and North American agreed on guidelines for the design of the advanced paraglider trainer, the paraglider system to be used with static test article No. 2, and the paraglider system for the Gemini spacecraft. The most important of these guidelines was that redundancy would be provided for all critical operations.
NASA Administrator James E. Webb announced that the Mission Control Center for future manned space flights would be located at MSC. The Center would be operational in time for Gemini rendezvous flights in 1964 and later Apollo lunar missions. The overriding factor in the choice of MSC was the existing location of the Apollo Spacecraft Project Office, the astronauts, and Flight Operations Division at Houston.
Rocketdyne completed designing and fabricating prototype hardware for both spacecraft liquid propulsion systems and initiated testing of the reaction control system. Test firing of the 25-pound-thrust chambers revealed nozzle erosion causing degradation in performance after one third the specified burn time.
North American began a test program to qualify the emergency parachute recovery system for the full-scale test vehicle in Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. The first test was successful. In the second test (August 22), one of the three main parachutes was lost after deployment, but no damage resulted. In the third test (September 7), only minor damage was sustained despite the loss of two parachutes. The test series ended on November 15 when all recovery parachutes separated from the spacecraft immediately after deployment and the test vehicle was destroyed on impact. Manned Spacecraft Center decided to terminate this portion of the test program but directed McDonnell to supply North American with a boilerplate spacecraft for further tests at a later date.
North American began flight tests of the half-scale vehicle (HSTV) in Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program two months behind schedule. The instrumented HSTV with the paraglider predeployed was towed aloft by helicopter. Objectives of the predeployed flights were to evaluate flight performance, longitudinal and lateral control characteristics, effectiveness of control, and the flare maneuver capability of the paraglider. Despite various minor malfunctions in all five test flights (August 14, 17, 23, September 17, and October 23, 1962), test results verified the stability of the wing/vehicle combination in free flight and the adequacy of control effectiveness.
Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) formally reviewed McDonnell's engineering mock-up of the Gemini spacecraft in St Louis. The company had begun building the mock-up in January, shortly after receiving the spacecraft contract. Mock-up review had originally been scheduled for mid-July, but informal examinations by MSC representatives, including James A Chamberlin and several astronauts, had produced some suggested changes. The review itself resulted in McDonnell's receiving 167 requests for alterations. MSC inspected the revised mock-up in November.
He replaced N. F. Witte, who remained as Assistant Program Manager. This organizational change reflected the elevation of work on paraglider from project to program status within North American's Space and Information Systems Division. The paraglider program achieved operating division status three months later when Jeffs was appointed Vice President of Space and Information Systems Division.
Gemini Project Office directed McDonnell to provide spacecraft No. 3 with rendezvous radar capability and to provide a rendezvous evaluation pod as a requirement for missions 2 and 3. Four pods were required: one prototype, two flight articles, and one flight spare.
A study group formed at the Gemini mock-up review of August 15-16 met to review the ejection seat development program. McDonnell reported the successful completion of redesign and testing which cleared the way for resumption of off-the-pad developmental testing. McDonnell described the major outstanding design task as the determination of the dynamic center of gravity of the seat-man combination under expected acceleration profiles.
7 followed on September 20. Though primarily successful, these tests revealed some problems. The seat-structure thrust pad required reanalysis and redesign. Simulated off-the-pad testing was temporarily halted until a final configuration rocket catapult became available. A rocket motor test on January 4, 1963, demonstrated the structural integrity of the thrust-pad area, and simulated pad ejection tests resumed the following month.
NASA's nine new astronauts were named in Houston, Tex., by Robert R. Gilruth, MSC Director. Chosen from 253 applicants, the former test pilots who would join the original seven Mercury astronauts in training for Projects Gemini and Apollo were: Neil A. Armstrong, NASA civilian test pilot; Maj. Frank Borman, Air Force; Lt. Charles Conrad, Jr., Navy; Lt.Cdr. James A, Lovell, Jr., Navy; Capt. James A. McDivitt, Air Force; Elliot M. See, Jr., civilian test pilot for the General Electric Company; Capt. Thomas P. Stafford, Air Force; Capt. Edward H. White II, Air Force; and Lt. Cdr. John W. Young, Navy.
Life Systems Division reported on continuing studies related to extravehicular operations during Gemini missions. These included evaluation of a superinsulation coverall, worn over the pressure suit, for thermal protection; ventilation system requirements and hardware; and methods of maneuvering in proximity to the spacecraft.
The freeze-dried food that would be used in the Gemini program would also be provided for the Apollo program. Forty-two pounds of food would be necessary for a 14-day lunar landing mission. Potable water would be supplied by the fuel cells and processed by the environmental control system. A one-day water supply of six pounds per man would be provided at launch as an emergency ration if needed before the fuel cells were fully operative.
McDonnell and Lockheed reported on radiation hazards and constraints for Gemini missions at a Trajectories and Orbits Coordination meeting. McDonnell's preliminary findings indicated no radiation hazard for normal Gemini operations with some shielding; with no shielding the only constraint was on the 14-day mission, which would have to be limited to an altitude of 115 nautical miles. Lockheed warned that solar flares would pose a problem at higher altitudes. Lockheed also recommended limiting operations to under 300 miles pending more data on the new radiation belts created by the Atomic Energy Commission's Project Dominic in July 1962.
NASA Headquarters' recent decision to cut the MSC budget for fiscal year 1963 from $687 million to $660 million. Wesley L. Hjornevik, Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) Assistant Director for Administration, described to members of MSC's senior staff the implications of NASA Headquarters' recent decision to cut the MSC budget for fiscal year 1963 from $687 million to $660 million, the entire reduction to be borne by the Gemini program. Hjornevik feared that the Gemini budget, already tight, could absorb so large a cut only by dropping the paraglider, Agena, and all rendezvous equipment from the program. Gemini Project Office (GPO) reported that funding limitations had already forced Martin and McDonnell to reduce their level of activity. The first Gemini flight (unmanned) was rescheduled for December 1963, with the second (manned) to follow three months later, and subsequent flights at two-month intervals, with the first Agena (fifth mission) in August or September 1964. This four-month delay imposed by budget limitations required a large-scale reprogramming of Gemini development work, reflected chiefly in drastic reduction in the scale of planned test programs. Details of the necessary reprogramming had been worked out by December 20, when GPO Manager James A. Chamberlin reported that December 1963 was a realistic date for the first Gemini flight. Gemini funding for fiscal year 1963 totaled $232.8 million.
The feasibility of using the Gemini fuel cell for the lunar excursion module was studied by NAA. However, because of modifications to meet Apollo control and auxiliary requirements, the much lighter Gemini system would ultimately weigh about as much as the Apollo fuel cell. In addition, the Gemini fuel cell schedule would slip if the system had to be adapted to the Apollo mission.
B. F. Goodrich delivered a prototype partial-wear, quick-assembly, full-pressure suit to Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) for evaluation by Life Systems Division. The partial-wear feature of this suit, demanded by the long-duration missions planned for the Gemini program, comprised detachable suit components (sleeves, legs, helmets). This was the second of two partial-wear suit prototypes called for by the original contract; but MSC had, in the meantime, requested B. F. Goodrich to provide 14 more suits based on this design. The additional suits varied only in size; they were to follow the design of the prototype according to the spacifications of October 10, 1962. The prototype, originally designated G-2G, became G-2G-1 and the remaining suits were designated G-2G-2 through G-2G-15. MSC requested extensive design changes after evaluating G-2G-1 and several other suits. The final model was G-2G-8, delivered to MSC on January 21, 1963. It was later rejected in favor of a suit designed by David Clark Company, Inc., Worcester, Massachusetts, which incorporated B. F. Goodrich helmets, gloves, and additional hardware.
Despite its designation, this test did not call for seats actually to be ejected. Its purpose was to provide data on the aerodynamic drag of the test vehicle and to prove the test vehicle's structural soundness in preparation for future escape system tests. The test vehicle, mounted by boilerplate spacecraft No. 3 (a welded steel mock-up of the Gemini spacecraft aerodynamically similar to the flight article), was a rocket-propelled sled running on tracks. Although test objectives were achieved, the boilerplate spacecraft was severly damaged when one of the sled motors broke loose and penetrated the heatshield, causing a fire which destroyed much instrumentation and equipment. Despite repairs required for the boilerplate and major modification or rebuilding of the sled, Gemini Project Office foresaw no delay in the sled test program.
NASA invited ten industrial firms to submit bids by December 7 for a contract to build a control center at MSC and to integrate ground operational support systems for Apollo and the rendezvous phases of Gemini. On January 28, 1963, NASA announced that the contract had been awarded to the Philco Corporation, a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company.
At a mechanical systems coordination meeting, representatives of McDonnell and Manned Spacecraft Center decided to terminate McDonnell's subcontract with CTL Division of Studebaker for the backup heatshield. The decision resulted from growing confidence in the new McDonnell design as well as from CTL problems in fabricating heatshield No. 1. Termination of the CTL contract would save an estimated $131,000.
Gemini Project Office identified the primary problem area of the spacecraft liquid propellant rocket systems to be the development of a 25-pound thruster able to perform within specification over a burn time of five minutes. Three-minute chambers for the reaction control system (RCS) had been successfully tested, but the longer-duration chambers required for the orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS) had not. Rocketdyne was three weeks behind schedule in developmental testing of RCS and OAMS components, and five weeks behind in the systems testing.
Design Engineering Inspection of the full-scale test vehicle (FSTV) for Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. Representatives of Manned Spacecraft Center, NASA Headquarters, Flight Research Center, Langley Research Center, and Ames Research Center conducted a Design Engineering Inspection of the full-scale test vehicle (FSTV) for Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. As conceived during Phase I of the program, the FSTVs (the contract called for two) were to be a means of meeting a twofold objective: (1) the development of systems and techniques for wing deployment and (2) the evaluation of flight performance and control characteristics during glide. After reviewing flight test objectives, test vehicle hardware, and electrical and electronic systems, the inspecting team submitted 24 requests for alterations to North American.
North American began deployment flight testing of the half-scale test vehicle (HSTV) in Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. The HSTV was carried aloft slung beneath a helicopter. The main purpose of the deployment flight tests was to investigate problem areas in the transition from release of the rendezvous and recovery canister to glide - the ejection, inflation, and deployment of the paraglider wing. The first flight partially substantiated the feasibility of the basic deployment sequence, but emergency recovery procedures were necessary. In the second test (January 8, 1963), the sail disintegrated, and in the third (March 11), the rendezvous and recovery canister failed to separate. In both instances, attempts to recover the vehicle with the emergency system were thwarted when the main parachute failed to deploy, and both vehicles were destroyed on impact.
A 10-percent fluctuating-pressure model of the Gemini spacecraft completed its exit configuration test program in the mach number range of 0.6 to 2.5, the region of maximum dynamic pressure. On January 15, 1963, a Gemini spacecraft dynamics stability model also completed its test program providing dynamic stability coefficients for the spacecraft reentry at mach numbers 3.0 to 10. These tests completed all the originally scheduled wind tunnel testing for Project Gemini; however, three additional test programs had been initiated. These included additional testing of the spacecraft 20-percent ejection seat model, testing of the astronaut ballute model to obtain data for design of the astronaut stabilization system, and testing of the rigid frame paraglider model to determine optimum sail configuration.
Manned Spacecraft Center directed McDonnell to study requirements for a spacecraft capable of performing rendezvous experiments on the second and third Gemini flights. The experimental package would weigh 70 pounds and would include an L-band radar target, flashing light, battery power supply, and antenna systems. On the second flight, a one-day mission, the experiment was to be performed open-loop, probably optically - the astronaut would observe the target and maneuver the spacecraft to rendezvous with it. On the third flight, a seven-day mission, the experiment was to be performed closed-loop, with spacecraft maneuvers controlled automatically by the data it received from its instruments.
Design Engineering Inspection of the advanced trainer for the Paraglider Development Program, Phase II-B. Representatives of Manned Spacecraft Center, NASA Headquarters, Flight Research Center, Langley Research Center, and Ames Research Center conducted a Design Engineering Inspection of the advanced trainer for the Paraglider Development Program, Phase II-B(1). North American received 36 requests for alterations.
These included onboard controlled reentry for all aborts, except in the event of guidance and control system failure; onboard selection of one of the emergency abort target areas; navigational accuracy to a two-mile radius error at the point of impact; and crew capability to eject from the spacecraft with the paraglider deployed.
To stimulate contractor employees to better performance, Gemini Project Office Manager James A. Chamberlin suggested that astronauts visit with workers at various contractors' plants. Donald K Slayton, Astronaut Activities Office, informed Chamberlin that such visits would be made, beginning with the Martin Company in February 1963.
In the opinion of Flight Operations Division's Project Gemini working group: 'One of the biggest problem areas seems to be the on-board computer; exactly what is it going to do; what is its sequence of operation; what does it need from the ground computer complex and how often; exactly how is it used by astronauts; what is the job of the on-board computer for early missions?'
Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., of MSC's Flight Operations Division (FOD), advised ASPO that the digital up-data link being developed for the Gemini program appeared acceptable for Apollo as well. In late October 1962, representatives of FOD and ASPO had agreed that an independent up-data link a means by which the ground could feed current information to the spacecraft's computer during a mission was essential for manned Apollo flights. Kraft proposed that the Gemini-type link be used for Apollo as well, and on June 13 MSC ordered North American to include the device in the CM.
In an electrical systems coordination meeting at Manned Spacecraft Center, results of operating the first fuel cell section were reported: a fuel cell stack had failed and the resultant fire had burned a hole through the case. Another section was being assembled from stacks incorporating thicker ion-exchange membranes. One such stack, of six fuel cells, had operated for 707 hours within specification limits, and after 875 hours was five percent below specified voltage; a similar stack was well within specification after operating 435 hours.
North American received a letter contract for Phase III, Part I, of the Paraglider Development Program, to produce a Gemini paraglider landing system. This contract was subsequently incorporated as Change No. 6 to Contract NAS 9-539, Phase II-B(1) of the Paraglider Development Program.
MSC announced new assignments for the seven original astronauts: L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., and Alan B. Shepard, Jr., would be responsible for the remaining pilot phases of Project Mercury; Virgil I. Grissom would specialize in Project Gemini; John H. Glenn, Jr., would concentrate on Project Apollo; M. Scott Carpenter would cover lunar excursion training; and Walter M. Schirra, Jr., would be responsible for Gemini and Apollo operations and training. As Coordinator for Astronaut Activities, Donald K. Slayton would maintain overall supervision of astronaut duties.
Specialty areas for the second generation were: trainers and simulators, Neil A. Armstrong; boosters, Frank Borman; cockpit layout and systems integration, Charles Conrad, Jr.; recovery system, James A. Lovell, Jr.; guidance and navigation, James A. McDivitt; electrical, sequential, and mission planning, Elliot M. See, Jr.; communications, instrumentation, and range integration, Thomas P. Stafford; flight control systems, Edward H. White II; and environmental control systems, personal equipment, and survival equipment, John W. Young.
Manned Spacecraft Center announced specialty areas for the nine new astronauts: trainers and simulators, Neil A. Armstrong; boosters, Frank Borman; cockpit layout and systems integration, Charles Conrad, Jr.; recovery systems, James A. Lovell, Jr.; guidance and navigation, James A. McDivitt; electrical, Sequential, and mission planning, Elliot M. See, Jr.; communications, instrumentation, and range integration, Thomas P. Stafford; flight control systems, Edward H White II; and environmental control systems, personal and survival equipment, John W Young.
Walter C. Williams, MSC's Associate Director, defined the Center's criteria on the location of earth landing sites for Gemini and Apollo spacecraft: site selection as well as mode of landing (i.e., land versus water) for each mission should be considered separately. Constraints on trajectory, landing accuracy, and landing systems must be considered, as well as lead time needed to construct landing area facilities. Both Gemini and Apollo flight planning had to include water as well as land landing modes.Although the Apollo earth landing system was designed to withstand the shock of coming down on varying terrains, some experience was necessary to verify this capability. Because of the complexity of the Apollo mission and because the earth landing system did not provide a means of avoiding obstacles, landing accuracy was even more significant for Apollo than for Gemini. With so many variables involved, Williams recommended that specific landing locations for future missions not be immediately designated.
Astronaut trainees concluded their formal academic training with a course on orbital mechanics and flight dynamics. Flight crew personnel had been receiving basic science training for two days a week over the past four months. During this period, they also received Gemini spacecraft and launch vehicle familiarization courses and visited several contractor facilities, including McDonnell, Martin, Aerojet, and Lockheed. Among subjects studied were astronomy, physics of the upper atmosphere and space, global meteorology, selenology, guidance and navigation, computers, fluid mechanics, rocket propulsion systems, aerodynamics, communications, environmental control systems, and medical aspects of space flight. Flight-crew training plans for the rest of the year, which were being formulated during February, called for space science and technology seminars, celestial recognition training, monitoring the Mercury-Atlas 9 flight, weightless flying, pressure suit indoctrination, parachute jumping, survival training, instruction in spacecraft systems and launch support, paraglider flying, centrifuge experience, docking practice, and work with the flight simulator.
Simulated off-the-pad ejection test No. 8 was conducted at Naval Ordnance Test Station. Two dummies were ejected, and for the first time the test incorporated a ballute system. The ballute (for balloon + parachute) had been introduced as a device to stabilize the astronaut after ejection at high altitudes. Ejection seat and dummy separated satisfactorily and the personnel parachute deployed properly; but faults in the test equipment prevented the canopy from fully inflating. The ballute failed to inflate or release properly on either dummy. As a result, the parachute was redesigned to ensure more positive inflation at very low dynamic pressures. The redesigned chute was tested in a series of five entirely successful dummy drops during March.
Northrop Ventura successfully completed the first series of 20 drop tests in developing the parachute recovery system for Project Gemini. The first four drops, during the last two weeks of August 1962, used a dummy rendezvous and recovery (R and R) section with the 18-foot drogue parachute to determine the rate of descent of the R and R section. Additional Details: here....
Colonel Kenneth W Schultz of Headquarters, Air Force Office of Development Planning, outlined Department of Defense objectives in the Gemini program at the first meeting of the Gemini Program Planning Board. He defined three general objectives: conducting orbital experiments related to such possible future missions as the inspection and interception of both cooperative and passive or noncooperative objects in space under a variety of conditions, logistic support of a manned orbiting laboratory, and photo reconnaissance from orbit; gaining military experience and training in all aspects of manned space flight; and assessing the relationship between man and machine in the areas of potential military missions.
Upon receipt at Cape Canaveral, the target vehicle would be inspected and certified. After this action, mechanical mate and interface checks with the target docking adapter would be accomplished. Agena-Gemini spacecraft compatibilty tests would then be conducted, and the Agena would undergo validation and weight checks. Subsequently, a joint checkout of the spacecraft and Agena would be conducted with tests on the Merritt Island radar tower.
Gemini Project Office (GPO) published a bar chart depicting preflight check-out of the Gemini spacecraft in the industrial area at Cape Canaveral. The chart outlined tests on all sections of the spacecraft, the target docking adapter, and the paraglider, from initial receiving inspection through completion of preparations for movement to the launch pad. GPO expected industrial testing to take about 90 working days, based on two full shifts of testing per day and a third shift of partial testing and partial maintenance.
Successful achievement of the full burn-time duration specified for the orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS) 25-pound thruster. Gemini Project Office reported Rocketdyne's successful achievement of the full 270-second burn-time duration specified for steady-state operation of the orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS) 25-pound thruster. This had been the primary focus of Rocketdyne's research effort, in line with McDonnell's position that meeting steady-state life operations with the 25-pound OAMS thrust chamber assembly (TCA) was the key to resolving major problems in the development of spacecraft liquid propulsion systems. McDonnell engineers believed that a TCA design able to meet the steady-state life performance required of the 25-pound OAMS TCA would also be adequate to meet pulse-life performance requirements, and that a satisfactory 25-pound TCA would only have to be enlarged to provide a satisfactory 100-pound TCA. They were wrong on both counts. Rocketdyne subsequently shifted its primary TCA effort to obtaining life during pulse operation for 25-pound thrusters and steady-state life operation for 100-pound thrusters.
Gemini Project Office discussed with contractors the establishment of a philosophy for the final phase of the rendezvous mission. They agreed on the following general rules: (1) when the launch was on time, the terminal maneuver would be initiated when the Agena came within range of the spacecraft's sensors, which would occur between spacecraft insertion and first apogee; (2) automatic and optical terminal guidance techniques would always back each other up, one method being selected as an objective for each mission and the other serving as a standby; (3) during early rendezvous missions, the terminal phase would be initiated by the third spacecraft apogee or delayed until the twelfth because of range radar tracking limitations; (4) for the same reason, no midcourse corrections should be made during orbits 4 through 11; (5) in case of extreme plane or phase errors, the Agena would be maneuvered to bring it within the spacecraft's maneuver capability; and (6) after such gross Agena maneuvers, the Agena orbit would be recircularized and two orbits of spacecraft catchup would precede the initiation of terminal rendezvous plan.
A series of problems in the Paraglider Development Program culminated in the loss of a second half-scale test vehicle in a deployment flight test. As early as October 19, 1962, budget pressure had prompted some consideration of dropping a paraglider from the Gemini Program. Additional Details: here....
North American let the first of three major subcontracts for the Gemini Paraglider Landing System Program to Northrop for a parachute recovery system in the amount of $461,312. A $1,034,003 subcontract for the paraglider control actuation assembly went to the Aerospace Division of Vickers, Inc., Detroit, Michigan, on March 25. The third major subcontract, $708,809 for the paraglider electronic control system, was let to the Aeronautical Division of Minneapolis-Honeywell on May 13.
James A Chamberlin was reassigned from Manager of Project Gemini to Senior Engineering Advisor to Robert R Gilruth, Director of Manned Spacecraft Center. Charles W Mathews was reassigned from Chief, Spacecraft Technology Division, to Acting Manager of Project Gemini.
A contract for $33,797,565, including fixed fee, was signed with Philco Corporation, Philadelphia, Pennysylvania, to implement the Integrated Mission Control Center. Philco would provide all the flight information and control display equipment except the real-time computer complex, which was to be built and maintained by International Business Machines Corporation. Philco would also assist Manned Spacecraft Center in maintaining and operating the equipment for at least one year after acceptance. Philco had been selected from seven qualified bidders, and final contract negotiations had begun February 25, 1963.
Testifying before the Subcommittee on Manned Space Flight of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics, D Brainerd Holmes, Director of Manned Space Flight, sought to justify a $42.638 million increase in Gemini's actual 1963 budget over that previously estimated. Holmes explained: 'This increase is identified primarily with an increase of $49.9 million in spacecraft. The fiscal 1963 congressional budget request was made at the suggestion of the contractor. The increase reflects McDonnell's six months of actual experience in 1963.' The subcommittee was perturbed that the contractor could so drastically underestimate Gemini costs, especially since it was chosen without competition because of supposed competence derived from Mercury experience. Holmes attributed McDonnell's underestimate to unexpectedly high bids from subcontractors and provided for the record a statement of some of the reasons for the change: 'These original estimates made in December 1961 by NASA and McDonnell were based on minimum changes from Mercury technology ..... As detailed specifications for subsystems performance were developed ....... realistic cost estimates, not previously available, were obtained from subcontractors. The first of these ....... were obtained by McDonnell in April 1962 and revealed significantly higher estimates than were originally used. For example: (a) In data transmission, it became necessary to change from a Mercury-type system to a pulse code modulation (PCM) system because of increased data transmission requirements, and the need to reduce weight and electrical power. The Gemini data transmission system will be directly applicable to Apollo. (b) Other subsystems have a similar history. The rendezvous radar was originally planned to be similar to ones used by the Bomarc Missile, but it was found necessary to design an interferometer type radar for low weight, small volume, and to provide the highest reliability possible. (c) The environmental control system was originally planned as two Mercury-type systems, but as the detail specifications became definitive it was apparent that the Mercury ECS was inadequate and, although extensive use of Mercury design techniques were utilized, major modifications were required.'
NASA announced the signing of a contract with McDonnell for the Gemini spacecraft. Final negotiations had been completed February 27, 1963. Estimated cost was $428,780,062 with a fixed fee of $27,870,000 for a total estimated cost-plus-fixed-fee of $456,650,062. NASA Headquarters spent two weeks on a detailed review of the contract before signing. Development of the spacecraft had begun in December 1961 under a preliminary letter contract which the final contract superseded. The contract call for a 13 flight-rated spacecraft, 12 to be used in space flight, one to be used for ground testing. In addition, McDonnell would provide two mission simulator trainers, a docking simulator trainer, five boilerplates, and three static articles for vibration and impact ground tests.
George M Low, Director of Spacecraft and Flight Missions, Office of Manned Space Flight, explained to the House Subcommittee on Manned Space Flight why eight rendezvous missions were planned. 'In developing the rendezvous capability, we must study a number of different possible ways of conducting the rendezvous ..... For example, we can conduct a rendezvous maneuver in Gemini by purely visual or optical means. In this case there will be a flashing light on the target vehicle. The pilot in the spacecraft will look out of his window and he will rendezvous and fly the spacecraft toward the flashing light and perform the docking. This is one extreme of a purely manual system. On the opposite end of the spectrum we have a purely automatic system in which we have a radar, computer, and stabilized platform and, from about 200 or 500 miles out, the spacecraft and the target vehicle can lock on to each other by radar and all maneuvers take place automatically from that point on. We know from our studies on the ground and our simulations that the automatic way is probably the most efficient way of doing it. We would need the least amount of fuel to do it automatically. On the other hand it is also the most complex way. We need more equipment, and more equipment can fail this maneuver so it might not be the most reliable way. The completely visual method is least efficient as far as propellants are concerned, but perhaps the simplest. In between there are many possible combinations of these things. For example, we could use a radar for determining the distance and the relative velocity between the two without determining the relative angle between the two spacecraft and let the man himself determine the relative angle. We feel we must get actual experience in space flight of a number of these possibilities before we can perform the lunar orbit rendezvous for Apollo.'
NASA Headquarters approved rescheduling of the Gemini flight program as proposed by Gemini Project Office (GPO). Late delivery of the spacecraft systems coupled with the unexpectedly small number of Mercury systems incorporated in the Gemini spacecraft had forced GPO to review the flight program critically. In the revised program, the first flight was still set for December 1963 and was still to be unmanned, but it was now to be orbital rather than suborbital to flight-qualify launch vehicle subsystems and demonstrate the compatibility of the launch vehicle and spacecraft; no separation or recovery was planned. The second mission, originally a manned orbital flight, now became an unmanned suborbital ballistic flight schedule for July 1964. Its primary objection was to test spacecraft reentry under maximum heating-rate reentry conditions; it would also qualify the launch vehicle and all spacecraft systems required for manned orbital flight. The third flight, formerly planned as a manned orbital rendezvous mission, became the first manned flight, a short-duration (probably three-orbit) systems evaluation flight scheduled for October 1964. Subsequent flights were to follow at three-month intervals, ending in January 1967. Rendezvous terminal maneuvers were planned for missions 3 (if flight duration permitted) and 4, a seven-day mission using a rendezvous pod. The sixth flight was to be a 14-day long-duration mission identical to 4 except that no rendezvous maneuver missions with the Atlas-launched Agena D target vehicle. Water landing by parachute was planned for the first six flights and land landing by paraglider from flight 7 on.
In a NASA position paper, stimulated by Secretary of Defense McNamara's testimony on the fiscal year 1964 budget and an article in Missiles and Rockets interpreting his statements, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., NASA Associate Administrator, stressed NASA's primary management responsibility in the Gemini program. McNamara's remarks had been interpreted as presaging an Air Force take-over of Project Gemini. Seamans recognized the vital role of the Department of Defense in Gemini management and operations but insisted that NASA had the final and overall responsibility for program success.
Rocketdyne reactivated the test program on the 100-pound thrust chamber assembly (TCA) for the orbit attitude and maneuver system. Through March, testing had been at a very low level as Rocketdyne concentrated on the 25-pound TCAs. Testing had ceased altogether in April because hardware was unavailable. Tests had shown, however, that a satisfactory 100-pound TCA design could not be derived from an enlarged 25-pound TCA design. The major objection of the reactivated test program was to achieve steady-state life. Two tests late in May were encouraging: one achieved 575 seconds of operation with no decay in chamber pressure and a performance efficiency of 92 percent; the other operated for 600 seconds with 10 percent decay in chamber pressure and 91.9 percent performance efficiency. Specification performance was 530 seconds with less than 3 percent chamber pressure decay and 93 percent performance efficiency.
Work under the contract was to be completed by May 1, 1964, and initial funding was $6.7 million. This contract reflected a reorientation of the paraglider program. Its primary purpose was to develop a complete paraglider landing system and to define all the components of such a system. Among the major tasks this entailed were: (1) completing the design, development, and testing of paraglider subsystems and building and maintaining mock-ups of the vehicle and its subsystems; (2) modifying the paraglider wings procured under earlier contracts to optimize deployment characteristics and designing a prototype wing incorporating aerodynamic improvements; (3) modifying the two full-scale test vehicles produced under Contract NAS 9-167 to incorporate prototype paraglider landing system hardware, modifying the Advanced Paraglider Trainer produced under Contract NAS 9-539 to a tow test vehicle, and fabricating a new, second tow test vehicle; and (4) conducting a flight test program including half-scale tow tests, full-scale boilerplate parachute tests, full-scale deployment tests, and tow test vehicle flight tests. Contract negotiations were completed on July 12, and the final contract was dated September 25, 1963.
Boilerplate spacecraft No. 5, a welded steel mock-up of the spacecraft reentry section, was dropped from a C-130 aircraft at 20,000 feet to duplicate dynamic pressure and altitude at which actual spacecraft recovery would be initiated. Four more land-impact tests followed, the last on June 28; all test objectives were successfully accomplished. The main parachute tucking problem, which had appeared and been resolved during development tests, recurred in drops 4 and 5 (June 17, 28). Although this problem did not affect parachute performance, Gemini Project Office decided to suspend qualification testing until the condition could be studied and corrected. Northrop Ventura attributed the tucking to excessive fullness of the parachute canopy and resolved the problem by adding control tapes to maintain proper circumference. Four bomb-drop tests during July proved this solution satisfactory, and qualification testing resumed August 8.
McDonnell and Weber Aircraft had completely redesigned the blackboard and mechanism linkage to obtain more reliable load paths and mechanism actuation, and to eliminate the 'add-on' character of the many features and capabilities introduced during seat development which contributed to the unsuccessful test in February. The new design was proved in a series of tests culminating in a preliminary ejection test on April 22. Test No. 9 was followed by test No. 9a on May 25. Both tests were completely successful. Test Nos. 10 and 11 (July 2, 16) completed the development phase of pad ejection testing. Both were dual ejection tests. No. 10 was completely unsuccessful, but No. 11 was marred by the failure of a seat recovery chute (not part of the spacecraft ejection system), resulting in major damage to the seat when it hit the ground.
Rocketdyne successfully tested a 25-pound thrust chamber assembly (TCA) for the reentry control system (RCS) in pulse operation. Earlier efforts had aimed primarily at achieving steady-state performance, until tests revealed that such performance was no guarantee of adequate pulse performance. Char rate on pulse-cycled, 25-pound RCS TCAs proved to be approximately 1.5 times greater than identical TCAs tested in continuous runs. Several TCAs failed when the ablative material in the combustion chamber was exhausted and the casing charred through. To correct this problem, the ratio of oxidizer to fuel was reduced from 2.05:1 to 1.3:1, significantly decreasing chamber temperature; the mission duty cycle was revised, with required firing time reduced from 142 seconds of specification performance to 101 seconds, without catastrophic failure before 136 seconds; and the thickness of the ablative chamber wall was increased, raising motor diameter from 2.54 to 3.75 inches. The development of a suitable ablative thrust chamber, however, remained a major problem. No RCS TCA design was yet complete, and no 25-pound orbit attitude and maneuver system TCAs had yet been tested on a pulse-duty cycle. Rocketdyne was already three months late in delivering TCA hardware to McDonnell, and all other components had been rescheduled for later delivery. Completion of development testing of components had also been slipped three months.
The first engineering prototype of the onboard computer completed integration testing with the inertial platform at International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) and was delivered to McDonnell. At McDonnell, the computer underwent further tests. Some trouble developed during the initial test, but IBM technicians corrected the condition and the computer successfully passed diagnostic test checks.
North American began testing the half-scale two test vehicle (HSTTV) for the Paraglider Landing System Program. The first series of tests, 121 ground tows, ended on July 29. Various wing angle settings and attach points were used to provide preliminary data for rigging analysis and dynamic tow characteristics. The HSTTV was then delivered to Edwards Air Force Base on August 19, where Flight Research Center began its own series of ground tows on August 20. This series of 133 runs was concluded in September and was followed by 11 helicopter tow tests in October. Primary test objectives were to investigate paraglider liftoff characteristics, helicopter tow techniques, and the effects of wind-bending during high speed tows.
At a Gemini Abort Panel meeting, McDonnell reported the possibility of dropping the mode 2 lower abort limit to 35,000 to 40,000 feet. McDonnell also presented computer data on studies using a combination of mode 2 and mode 1 for launch to T + 10-second aborts; during this period, mode 1 abort might not be adequate. Current Gemini abort modes: mode 1, ejection seats - from pad to 70,000 feet; mode 2, booster shutdown/retrosalvo - 70,000 to approximately 522,000 feet; mode 3, booster shutdown/normal separation - from approximately 522,000 feet until last few seconds of powered flight.
Rocketdyne completed its initial design of the 25-pound thrust chamber assembly (TCA) for both the reentry control system (RCS) and orbit attitude and maneuver system. Less than a month later, Rocketdyne recommended an entirely new design, which McDonnell approved on July 5. The redesigned TCA was planned for installation in spacecraft Nos. 5 and up. Meanwhile, however, Rocketdyne had established a thrust chamber working group to improve TCA performance. This group designed, built and successfully tested in pulse operation two 25-pound RCS thrusters much more quickly than Rocketdyne had anticipated; thus the new design configuration was incorporated in the manufacturing plan for spacecraft Nos. 2 and up. The design of all TCAs, 25-85-, and 100-pound, were now identical. In reporting these developments, Gemini Project Office attributed the success of the new design to relaxed test requirements rather than to any breakthrough in design or material. In addition to reduced oxidizer-to-fuel ratios and less required firing time, thrust performance requirements were also lowered to 22.5 pounds for the 25-pound thrusters, 77.5 for the 85-pound thrusters, and 91.2 for the 100-pound thrusters.
Whether so short a mission would allow time to perform the rendezvous experiment called for by the original mission plan remained in doubt, although Flight Operations Division's Rendezvous Analysis Branch had decided during the week of June 2 that a three-orbit mission was long enough to conduct a useful experiment. GPO had directed McDonnell to study the problem.
McNamara believed that the Pentagon needed no manned military spacecraft. His first step in the destruction of Dynasoar was the proposal of a 'Blue Gemini' spacecraft. This would use the two-manned spacecraft being developed by NASA to conduct military manned space experiments scheduled for DynaSoar. General Curtis LeMay countered that the country needed both programs - Blue Gemini and DynaSoar. McNamara responded by insisting that a specific military mission be immediately defined for the X-20, or he would cancel it.
The Cape Gemini/Agena Test Integration Working Group met to define "Plan X" test procedures and responsibilities. The purpose of Plan X was to verify the Gemini spacecraft's ability to command the Agena target vehicle both by radio and hardline; to exercise all command, data, and communication links between the spacecraft, target vehicle, and mission control in all practical combinations, first with the two vehicles about six feet apart, then with the vehicles docked and latched but not rigidized; and to familiarize the astronauts with operating the spacecraft/target vehicle combination in a simulated rendezvous mission. Site of the test was to be the Merritt Island Launch Area Radar Range Boresight Tower ('Timber Tower'), a 65 x 25 x 50-foot wooden structure.
Sled test No. 2, the first dynamic dual-ejection test of the Gemini escape system, was run at China Lake. Both seats ejected and all systems functioned properly. The test was scheduled to be rerun, however, because the sled failed to attain high enough velocity. The purpose of sled tests in the ejection seat development program was to simulate various high-altitude abort situations. Sled test No. 3 was successfully run on August 9. Further tests were delayed while the ejection system was being redesigned. A modified egress kit was tested in two dummy drops on December 12, with no problems indicated. Gemini Project Office directed McDonnell to proceed with plans for the next sled test. Developmental sled testing on the escape system, incorporating the redesigned egress kit and a soft survival pack, resumed on January 16, 1964, with test No. 4; all systems functioned normally. Test No. 5, the planned repetition of test No. 2, brought developmental sled testing to an end on February 7.
North American began a series of five drop tests, using a boilerplate test vehicle, to qualify the parachute recovery system for the full-scale test vehicle in the Paraglider Landing System Program. The reoriented paraglider program had begun with two successful bomb-drop tests of the parachute recovery system on May 22 and June 3. The first boilerplate drop test saw both the main parachute and the boilerplate suffer minor damage; but boilerplate drops No. 2 (July 2), No. 3 (July 12), and No. 4 (July 18) were successful. A series of malfunctions in the fifth drop test on July 30 produced a complete failure of the recovery system, and the test vehicle was destroyed on impact. North American considered the objectives of the flight qualification program on the parachute system to have been met, despite this failure, and requested, since the boilerplate vehicle had been damaged beyond repair, that the parachute program be considered complete. Manned Spacecraft Center denied this request and, in Change Notice No. 3 to contract NAS 9-1484, directed North American to support McDonnell in conducting two further drop tests. Wind tunnel tests on a 1/20-scale spacecraft model isolated the source of trouble, and the modified parachute recovery system was successfully tested with a new boilerplate test vehicle on November 12. Results from this test were confirmed by a second drop test on December 3, and the parachute recovery system for the full-scale test vehicle was judged and fully qualified.
Launching azimuth of the first Gemini mission had been changed from 90 to 72.5 degrees to obtain better tracking network coverage. Charles W Mathews, Acting Manager of Gemini Project Office, reported to the Gemini Management Panel that the launching azimuth of the first Gemini mission had been changed from 90 to 72.5 degrees (the same as the Mercury orbital launches) to obtain better tracking network coverage. The spacecraft would be a complete production shell, including shingles and heatshield, equipped with a simulated computer, inertial measuring unit, and environmental control system in the reentry module. Simulated equipment would also be carried in the adapter section. The spacecraft would carry instruments to record pressures, vibrations, temperatures, and accelerations.
At a meeting on spacecraft operations, McDonnell presented a 'scrub' recycle schedule as part of a continuing investigation of the capability of a delayed Gemini launch to meet successive launch windows during rendezvous missions. With no change in either existing aerospace ground equipment or the spacecraft, the recycle time was 48 hours (an earlier estimate had been 24 1/2 hours) for a trouble-free recycle. Gemini Project Office wanted to recycle time reduced to 24 hours and ultimately to something less than 19 hours to meet successive launch windows, possibly by replacing fuel cells with batteries for rendezvous missions only.
The first engineering prototype inertial guidance system underwent integration and compatibility testing with a complete guidance and control system at McDonnell. All spacecraft wiring was found to be compatible with the computer, and the component operated with complete accuracy.
McDonnell warned Gemini Project Office that the capacity of the spacecraft computer was in danger of being exceeded. The original function of the computer had been limited to providing rendezvous and reentry guidance. Other functions were subsequently added, and the computer's spare capacity no longer appeared adequate to handle all of them. McDonnell requested an immediate review of computer requirements. In the meantime, it advised International Business Machines to delete one of the added functions, orbital navigation, from computers for spacecraft Nos. 2 and 3.
During evaluation of the G2C Gemini pressure suit in the engineering mock-up of the Gemini spacecraft at McDonnell, the suit torso was found to have been stretched out of shape, making it an unsatisfactory fit. David Clark Company had delivered the suit to McDonnell earlier in July. Evaluation in the mock-up also revealed that the helmet visor guard, by increasing the height of the helmet, compounded the problem of interference between the helmet and the spacecraft hatch. After preliminary evaluation, McDonnell returned the suit to David Clark with instructions to modify the helmet design to eliminate the fixed visor guard and to correct the torso fit problem. Final evaluation and start of production was delayed for about 6 weeks while the prototype suit was being reworked.
MSC signed a definitive contract, valued at $36.2 million, with International Business Machines (IBM) for the realtime computer complex in the MSC Mission Control Center. IBM was responsible for the design of the computer center, mission and mathematical analyses, programming equipment engineering, computer and program testing, maintenance and operation, and documentation. The complex, consisting of four IBM 7094 computers with their associated equipment, would monitor and analyze data from Gemini and Apollo missions.
In support of the Paraglider Landing System Program, Ames Research Center began wind tunnel tests of a half-scale paraglider test vehicle. Principle objectives of these tests were to obtain data on the longitudinal aerodynamic characteristics, lateral aerodynamic stability characteristics, and the static deployment characteristics of the new low-lobe wing which North American and NASA had jointly agreed on. The new configuration was expected to present lateral stability problems. This series of tests ended August 8.
Gemini Project Office reported that the fuel cell development had slipped, although the amount of slippage had not been completely estimated. Causes of the slippage had been rejection of vendor parts, extension of vendor delivery schedules, and lack of early determination of production procedures.
Design Engineering Inspection of the full-scale test vehicle for the Paraglider Landing System Program. A Design Engineering Inspection of the full-scale test vehicle (FSTV), with associated wing and hardware, for the Paraglider Landing System Program was held at North American's Space and Information Systems Division. This was the first such inspection under the new paraglider contract, NAS 9-1484. Under this contract, the two FSTVs were to be used solely to develop systems and techniques for wing deployment. As originally conceived, they were also to provide the means of evaluating flight performance and control characteristics during glide; but this objective was dropped to minimize cost and to simplify vehicle systems. The inspection resulted in 30 requests for alterations, most of them mandatory.
The new flight crew members and two of the Mercury astronauts began a five-day desert survival course at Stead Air Force Base, Nevada. The course, oriented toward Gemini missions, was divided into three phases: (1) one and one-half days of academic presentations on characteristics of world desert areas and survival techniques; (2) one day of field demonstrations on use and care of survival equipment and use of the parachute in construction of clothing, shelters, and signals; and (3) two days of remote site training, when two-man teams were left alone in the desert to apply what they had learned from the academic and demonstration phases of the program.
Qualification testing of the Gemini parachute recovery system resumed over the Salton Sea Range, California, following a month's delay occasioned by resolving the parachute tucking problem. This test, the sixth in the qualification series, and the seventh (August 20) differed from the first five only in being water-impact rather than land-impact tests. They successfully demonstrated water-impact accelerations low enough to make water landing safe. Further qualification testing was suspended on September 3 by the decision to incorporate a high-altitude stabilization parachute in the recovery system.
Rocketdyne began a series of tests to verify its new thrust chamber assembly (TCA) design for the reentry control system (RCS) and the orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS). The test plan called for each type TCA, 25-pound RCS, 25-, 85-, and 100-pound OAMS, to be tested to mission duty cycle, steady state life, limited environmental exposure, and performance. Rocketdyne submitted its design verification test schedule to McDonnell and Gemini Project Office on August 27, with seven of the 16 tests already completed. The remaining nine tests were to be finished by September 10. This proved an optimistic estimate; design verification testing was not completed until October.
McDonnell reported that spacecraft No. 2 was roughly one month behind schedule, primarily because of late deliveries of onboard systems from the vendors. Critical items were orbit attitude and maneuver system, reentry control system, fuel cells, and cryogenic storage tanks. Several systems had failed to pass vibration qualification and required modification. The Development Engineering Inspection of the spacecraft was scheduled for October 1963, but further delays postponed it until February 12-13, 1964.
Gemini Project Office reported that systems testing of the orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS) and reentry control system (RCS) was scheduled to be resumed early in October. Systems tests had begun in August 1962 but had been brought to a halt by the unavailability of thrust chambers. Three categories of systems tests were planned: (1) Research and Development Tests, comprising gas calibrations, aerospace ground equipment, evaluation, surge pressure evaluations, pulse interactions, steady-state evaluations, and vacuum soak tests; (2) Design Information Tests, comprising extreme operating condition evaluations, a group of fill-drain-decontamination-storage tests, pulse performance, skin heating, expulsion efficiency, liquid calibration, manual regulation, and propellant gauging; and (3) Design Approval Tests, comprising acceleration testing, RCS mission duty cycle tests at ambient temperature, OAMS two-day mission duty cycle tests at ambient temperature, and OAMS 14-day mission duty cycle tests at ambient temperature. Systems testing did not actually resume until May 1964.
Gemini Project Office (GPO) reported that it was investigating the use of a parasail and landing rocket system to enable the Gemini spacecraft to make land landings. Major system components were the parasail, drogue parachute, retrorocket, control system, and landing rocket. Unlike the conventional parachute, the parasail was capable of controlled gliding and turning. Landing rockets, fired just before touchdown, reduced the spacecraft terminate rate of descent to between 8 and 11 feet per second. Research and development testing was being conducted by the Landing and Impact System Section of Systems Evaluation and Development Division at Manned Spacecraft Center, while McDonnell had just completed a limited study of the advantages and disadvantages, including time required, of incorporating the new landing system on the spacecraft. GPO briefed NASA Headquarters on the system September 6, when it was decided that no further action would be taken on the parasail.
A Mission Planning Coordination Group was established at the request of the Gemini Project Office to review monthly activities in operations, network guidance and control, and trajectories and orbits; and to ensure the coordination of various Manned Spacecraft Center elements actively concerned with Gemini mission planning. Additional Details: here....
This was to permit incorporating a drogue parachute in the system as a means of stabilizing the spacecraft during the last phase of reentry, at altitudes between 50,000 and 10,000 feet. This function had originally been intended for the reentry control system (RCS), currently suffering from serious development problems. The revised design would also permit RCS propellants to be dumped before deploying the main recovery parachute. GPO outlined a three-phase drop test program to develop the drogue chute and qualify the revised recovery system. Phase I, scheduled for January and February 1964 and using boilerplate No. 5, as a test vehicle, would develop the technique of deploying the pilot parachute by the stabilization chute. The deployment sequence was planned to begin with deployment of the stabilization chute at 50,000 feet. At 10,600 feet, the astronaut would release the stabilization chute. A lanyard connecting the stabilization and pilot chutes would then deploy the pilot chute. Two and one-half seconds later, the rendezvous and recovery (R and R) section would separate from the spacecraft, allowing the main chute to deploy. Phase II of the drop test program, scheduled for March through August 1964 and using a parachute test vehicle (an instrumented weight bomb), would complete development of the stabilization chute. From June through October 1964, Phase III tests would qualify the recovery system, using static article No. 7, a boilerplate pressure vessel and heatshield equipped with production RCS and R and R sections. Since this program was not expected to be finished before the third Gemini mission, qualification of the existing system was to be completed with three more drops in February and March 1964. Static article No. 7 would serve as the test vehicle before being diverted to Phase III testing.
Representatives of Manned Spacecraft Center's Instrumentation and Electronics Systems Division and McDonnell met to coordinate the Gemini radar program. Gemini Project Office had requested an increased effort to put the rendezvous radar system in operational status.
MSC Flight Operations Division (FOD) established a 72-hour lifetime for Apollo recovery aids. This limitation was derived from considerations of possible landing footprints, staging bases, and aircraft range and flying time to the landing areas. Primary location aids were the spacecraft equipment (VHF AM transceiver, VHF recovery beacon, and HE transceiver) and the VHF survival radio. Because of battery limitations, current planning called for only a 24-hour usage of the VHF recovery beacon. If electronic aids were needed beyond this time the VHF survival radio would be used. If the spacecraft were damaged or lost, the VHF survival radio would be the only electronic location aid available. MSC had recently selected the Sperry Phoenix Company to produce the Gemini VHF survival radio, which was expected to meet the Apollo requirements. FOD recommended that the current contract with Sperry Phoenix be extended to provide the units needed for Apollo missions.
This training was necessary because in low level abort (under 70,000 feet) the pilot would be ejected from the spacecraft and would descend by personnel parachute. A towed 24-foot diameter parasail carried the astronauts to altitudes as high as 400 feet before the towline was released and the astronaut glided to a landing.
Following up Gemini Project Office's request to bring the Gemini rendezvous radar system to operational status, Manned Spacecraft Center Instrumentation and Electronics System Division personnel met with Westinghouse at Baltimore to review the test program. Westinghouse had completed its radio frequency anechoic chamber test, but test anomalies could not be pinpointed to the radar system, since chamber reflections might have been responsible. An outdoor range test was planned to determine whether the chamber was suitable for testing the radar.
The President's Scientific Advisory Committee requested a briefing from the Air Force on possible military space missions, biomedical experiments to be performed in space, and the capability of Gemini, Apollo, and the X-20 vehicles to execute these requirements.
A technical development plan for Department of Defense experiments to be carried on Gemini missions was issued. The plan described 13 Air Force experiments and nine Navy experiments costing an estimated $22 million. Manned Spacecraft Center reviewed the experiments for feasibility while the plan was being prepared, but their inclusion on Gemini flights was tentative, pending further technical definition of the experiments themselves and clarification of spacecraft weight and volume constraints.
A Development Engineering Inspection of the tow test vehicle (TTV), its associated wings, hardware, and mock-up, for the Paraglider Landing System Program was held at North American's Space and Information Systems Division. The TTVs (the contract called for two) were manned vehicles to be flown with the wing predeployed to evaluate flight performance and control with particular emphasis on the landing maneuvers. The inspection resulted in 33 requests for alteration, 24 of them mandatory.
North American stopped its effort to retrofit the full-scale test vehicle (FSTV) to Gemini prototype paraglider deployment hardware. The contract for the Paraglider Landing System Program had provided for North American to incorporate Gemini equipment, insofar as possible, in the FSTV as it became available - this was the so-called retrofit. The decision to stop work on retrofit was made at a conference between North American and NASA on September 26; retrofit was deleted as a contract requirement on November 7 by Change Notice No. 5 to Contract NAS 9-1484.
Gemini Project office (GPO) requested McDonnell to do a design study of the requirements and configuration necessary for using batteries instead of fuel cells in all spacecraft scheduled for two-day rendezvous missions. Personnel from GPO had visited General Electric to review the results of experiments conducted to determine the theoretical operating life of the fuel cells to power the Gemini spacecraft. Tests results showed a life of about 600 hours, but changes in the spacecraft coolant system increased the fuel cell operating temperatures and reduced fuel cell life by about two-thirds. The theoretical life of the cells was between 150 and 250 hours; until some method of increasing the operating life of the fuel cell could be achieved, the development program would remain a problem.
After a receiving inspection (October 7) and Voltage Standing Wave Ratio Test (October 8), its instrument pallets were removed for laboratory test and checkout (October 9) while the spacecraft was being checked out, weighed, and balanced. Instrument pallets were reinstalled November 26. Individual and integrated communications, instrumentation, and environmental control systems were then performed. Final industrial area testing of the spacecraft concluded with a confidence level test on February 12, 1964.
North American completed work on the first full-scale prototype paraglider wing for the Paraglider Landing System Program and shipped it to Ames Research Center for wind tunnel tests. Test objectives were to determine the longitudinal aerodynamic characteristics, structural deflections, and spreader bar buckling limits of the full-scale wing. Testing ended October 28 but yielded very limited data. As a result, a second test of the full-scale wing was conducted from December 4 to December 9; this time all test objectives were met.
The Mission Planning Coordination Group discussed the feasibility of rendezvous at first apogee, as proposed by Richard R Carley of the Gemini Project Office. The group concluded that developing the ability to rendezvous at first apogee as a test objective and that capability for performing the maneuver should be provided in the mission plan for all rendezvous flights.
NASA announced the selection of 14 astronauts for Projects Gemini and Apollo, bringing to 30 the total number of American spacemen. They were Maj. Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., Capt. William A. Anders, Capt. Charles A. Bassett II, Capt. Michael Collins, Capt. Donn F. Eisele, Capt. Theodore C. Freeman, and Capt. David R. Scott of the Air Force; Lt. Cdr. Richard F. Gordon, Jr., Lt. Alan L. Bean, Lt. Eugene A. Cernan, and Lt. Roger B. Chaffee of the Navy; Capt. Clifton C. Williams, Jr., of the Marine Corps; R. Walter Cunningham, research scientist for the Rand Corporation; and Russell L. Schweickart, research scientist for MIT.
Rocketdyne test-fired an orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS) 85-pound thruster to a new mission duty cycle requiring 550 seconds of normal operation and 750 seconds before catastrophic failure. In noting McDonnell's reevaluation of the OAMS mission duty cycles, which imposed increased life requirements on OAMS thrust chamber assemblies (TCA), Gemini Project Office pointed out that this change compounded the TCA problem: the current (and briefer) mission duty cycles had yet to be demonstrated under specification conditions on the 25-pound and 100-pound TCAs. During the next two months, Rocketdyne stopped testing and concentrated on analyzing the performance characteristics of small ablative rocket engines, while McDonnell completed revising of duty cycles. Representatives of NASA, McDonnell, and Rocketdyne met in January 1964 to clarify the new life requirements for OAMS engines, which were significantly higher: required life of the 25-pound OAMS thruster in pulse operation was raised from 232.5 seconds to 557 seconds; that of the 85- and 100-pound thrusters, from 288.5 to 757 seconds.
North American finished modifying the Advanced Paraglider Trainer to a full scale tow test vehicle (TTV), as required by the Paraglider Landing System Program. The vehicle was then shipped to Edwards Air Force Base, where ground tow tests began on December 28. Preliminary ground tow testing was completed on January 14, 1964. The second TTV was completed on January 28 and shipped to Edwards on February 14. Further ground tow tests were conducted through June. Installation of flightworthy control system hardware began in April.
A meeting was held to discuss ejection seat system problems. Of major concern was the ejection seat ballute that was planned to stabilize the astronaut after he ejected and separated from the seat. Wind tunnel test data had suggested two problem areas: the ballute was failing at supersonic speeds and was not opening at subsonic speeds. Increasing the diameter and lengthening the riser lines improved performance considerably. A major system change recommended at the meeting was the incorporation of provisions for automatic separation of the seat backboard and egress kit before touchdown; Gemini Project Office directed McDonnell to study the feasibility of this recommendation.
MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth announced a reorganization of MSC to strengthen the management of the Apollo and Gemini programs. Under Gilruth and Deputy Director James C. Elms, there were now four Assistant Directors, Managers for both the Gemini and Apollo programs, and a Manager for MSC's Florida Operations. Assigned to these positions were:
Maxime A. Faget, Assistant Director for Engineering and Development Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., Assistant Director for Flight Operations Donald K. Slayton, Assistant Director for Flight Crew Operations Wesley L. Hjornevik, Assistant Director for Administration Joseph F. Shea, Manager, Apollo Spacecraft Program Office Charles W. Mathews, Manager, Gemini Program Office and G. Merritt Preston, Manager, MSC Florida Operations.
Delays in the fuel cell development program prompted Gemini Project Office to direct McDonnell to modify the electrical system for spacecraft No. 3 so that either fuel cells or a silver-zinc battery power system could be installed after the spacecraft had been delivered to the Cape. A contract change incorporating this directive was issued January 20, 1964.
Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) began a drop-test program over Galveston Bay using a helicopter-towed paraglider half-scale tow test vehicle to investigate trim conditions and stability characteristics indifferent deployment configurations. The first drop successfully tested the U-shaped deployment configuration. The second test (November 19) was abortive, but damage was slight. The third test (November 26) was also abortive, and the wing was damaged beyond repair on impact. MSC procured another wing from North American and conducted a fourth test, partially successful, on December 19. No further tests were conducted.
The first production version of the inertial guidance system developed for Gemini was delivered to McDonnell. Special tests on the configuration test unit, using spacecraft No. 2 guidance and control equipment, were expected to be completed in January 1964.
Flight Crew Support Division reported an agreement with Flight Operations Division on a flight profile and rendezvous evaluation experiment for the Gemini-Titan 4 mission. Objective of the experiment was to stimulate normal Agena/Gemini rendezvous and to repeat part of the maneuver using loss of signal/manual technique. Basically, the mission would use circular phasing and catch-up orbit as proposed by the Flight Crew Support Division. Exact fuel requirements and ground tracking requirement were under study by Flight Operations Division.
A series of 24 test drops to develop the ballute stabilization system for the Gemini escape system began with a live jump over El Centro. Five more live jumps and four dummy drops, the last two on January 9, 1964, all used a ballute three feet in diameter. Excessive rates of rotation dictated increasing ballute diameter and substituting two-point for single-point suspension. Between January 14 and February 4, 14 more tests (12 human and two dummy) were conducted at altitudes from 12,500 to 35,000 feet using ballutes 42 and 48 inches in diameter. These tests established a 48-inch diameter as the optimum configuration for the Gemini ballute, and Gemini Project Office directed McDonnell to use this size in the coming qualification drop test program. Qualification of the ballute was also to include a structural test program to be conducted in the wind tunnel at Arnold Engineering Development Center.
Gemini Project Office (GPO) reported the results of a survey of testing being done at Rocketdyne on the orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS). The research and development phase of testing OAMS components appeared likely to extend well into 1964, with the development of an adequate thrust chamber assembly (TCA) continuing as the major problem. Hardware availability remained uncertain, no definite method of resolving the TCA life problem had yet been selected, and McDonnell's current revision of mission duty cycles compounded the problem. Lack of hardware was also delaying system testing, which would be completed no sooner than the second quarter of 1964. Persistent delays in the research and development test program were in turn responsible for serious delays in the qualification test program. To meet the manned Gemini launch scheduled for 1964, GPO was considering the possibility of beginning qualification tests before development testing had been completed.
Martin-Baltimore received the propellant tanks for Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 3 from Martin-Denver, which had begun fabricating them in June. Splicing the oxidizer and fuel tanks for each stage was completed April 17, 1964. Flight engines arrived from Aerojet-General on May 10, and installation was completed June 6. Final horizontal tests of the assembled launch vehicle began June 1 and were concluded on June 17 with an Air Force inspection of GLV-3 before the vehicle was erected in the vertical test facility.
Gemini Project Office (GPO) reported that a silver-zinc battery power system would be flown in spacecraft 3. Gemini Project Office (GPO) reported that a silver-zinc battery power system would be flown in spacecraft No. 3 instead of a fuel cell system, which could not be qualified in time for the mission. Late in January, 1964, McDonnell reviewed for GPO the status of the fuel cell program and discussed the design of an improved fuel cell into spacecraft No. 5 and to delete fuel cells from spacecraft Nos. 3 and 4, substituting the battery power system.
Persistent problems in the development of engines for the Gemini orbit attitude and maneuver system prompted a review by the management of Manned Spacecraft Center. After discussion three decisions were reached. The possibility for further reducing the oxidizer to fuel ratio (currently 1.3:1) while still maintaining stable combustion and good starting characteristics was to be investigated. Lowering this ratio would reduce operating temperatures and enhance engine life. Another investigation was to be conducted to determine the feasibility of realigning the lateral-firing thrusters more closely with the spacecraft center of gravity. Such a realignment would reduce the demand placed on the 25-pound thrusters (which had yet to demonstrate a complete mission duty cycle operation without failure) in maintaining spacecraft attitude during lateral maneuvers. The third decision was to build an engine billet with ablation material laminates oriented approximately parallel to the motor housing. A recently developed parallel laminate material in its initial tests promised to resolve the problem of obtaining the thrusters' full operational duty cycle.
Objectives of the operations were to evaluate man's capabilities to perform useful tasks in a space environment, to employ extravehicular operations to augment the basic capability of the spacecraft, and to provide the capability to evaluate advanced extravehicular equipment in support of manned space flight and other national space programs. Additional Details: here....
NASA Headquarters directed Gemini Project Office to take the radar and rendezvous evaluation pod out of Gemini-Titan (GT) missions 3 and 4. GT-4 would be a battery-powered long-duration flight. The pod would go on GT-5, and thus the first planned Agena flight would probably slip in the schedule.
Phase I of the program to develop a drogue stabilization parachute for the Gemini parachute recovery system began with a successful test drop of boilerplate spacecraft No. 5 at El Centro. Phase I was aimed at determining the effects of deploying the pilot chute by a lanyard attached to the drogue chute. The second drop test, on January 28, was also successful, but in the third test, on February 6, the cables connecting the drogue-and-pilot-chute combination to the rendezvous and recovery (R and R) section of the boilerplate failed during pilot-chute deployment. Although the main chute deployed adequately to achieve a normal boilerplate landing, the R and R section was badly damaged when it hit the ground. Testing was temporarily suspended while McDonnell analyzed the cause of the failure. Testing resumed on April 10 with the fourth drop test, and Phase I was successfully concluded on April 21 with the fifth and final drop. Boilerplate No. 5 then returned to McDonnell, where it was converted into static article No. 4A by September 18 for use in Phase III tests.
North American began deployment flights of the full-scale test vehicle for the Paraglider Landing System Program. The contract called for 20 tests to demonstrate deployment of the full-scale wing from the rendezvous and recovery can, followed by glide and radio-controlled maneuvering; each test was to be terminated by release of the wing and recovery by the emergency parachute system (which had been qualified on December 3, 1963). Additional Details: here....
Gemini Project Office reported that Ames Research Center had conducted a visual reentry control simulator program to evaluate the feasibility of controlling the spacecraft attitude during reentry by using the horizon as the only visual reference. Simulation confirmed previous analytical studies and showed that the reentry attitude control, using the horizon view alone, was well within astronaut capabilities.
Rocketdyne tested an orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS) 100-pound thrust chamber assembly (TCA) to the 757-second mission duty cycle without failure. The TCA incorporated a modified injector which sprayed about 25 percent of the fuel down the wall of the chamber before burning, a technique known as boundary-layer cooling. With an oxidizer to fuel ratio of 1.2:1, the ablative material in the chamber was charred to a depth of only 0.5 inch. A second TCA, tested under the same conditions, charred to 0.55 inch. The flight-weight engine contained ablative material 1.03 inches thick, indicating that this engine configuration provided an ample margin for meeting mission requirements. These test results encouraged Gemini Project Office (GPO) to believe that boundary-layer cooling answered the problem of obtaining life requirements for the OAMS 100-pound TCAs. The same technique was also tried with the 25-pound TCA, but boundary-layer cooling was much less successful in the smaller engine; a modified rounded-edge, splash-plate injector yielded better results. This configuration was tested to the 570-second mission duty cycle using a mixture ratio of 0.7:1; at the end of the test, 0.18 inch uncharred material was left. Earlier TCAs using the same mixture ratio had failed after a maximum of 380 seconds. GPO now expected both 25- and 100-pound TCAs to be ready for installation in spacecraft 5 and up.
McDonnell began spacecraft pyrotechnic hatch firing tests, using boilerplate No. 3A, with a single-hatch firing test. The hatch opened and locked, but opening time was 350 milliseconds, 50 milliseconds over the allowable time. This test was followed, on February 10, by a dual-hatch firing test with satisfactory results. The boilerplate spacecraft was prepared for shipment to Weber Aircraft to be used in the qualification program of the ejection seat system.
Bernhard A. Hohmann of Aerospace expressed concern at a Gemini Management Panel meeting over spacecraft weight growth. His position was supported by Major General Ben I. Funk of Air Force Space Systems Division, who feared that mounting weight would squeeze out the Department of Defense experiments program. Additional Details: here....
George E. Mueller, NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, informed the staff of the Gemini Project Office (GPO) that all 12 Gemini flights would end in water landings, although Project Gemini Quarterly Report No. 8 for the period ending February 29, 1964, still listed the paraglider for the last three Gemini missions. Additional Details: here....
Gemini Project Manager Charles W. Mathews informed Manned Spacecraft Center senior staff of efforts to control Gemini spacecraft weight and configuration more tightly. Mathews had assigned Lewis R. Fisher of his office to head a Systems Integration Office within Gemini Project Office to oversee these efforts by keeping very precise accounts of spacecraft weight, interface actions between the spacecraft and launch vehicle, and interface actions between the spacecraft and the Agena target vehicle.
Gemini Project Office (GPO) reported the results of a test program to determine the possible effects of cracked throats or liners on the orbit attitude and maneuver system thrusters. Because of the manufacturing process, almost all thrust chamber assemblies (TCA) had such cracks and consequently could not be delivered. The tests showed no apparent degradation of engine life caused by cracks, and Rocketdyne claimed that no TCA in any of their five space engine programs had failed because of a cracked throat. With certain restrictions, cracked throats were to be accepted. GPO expected this problem to be reduced or eliminated in the new boundary-layer cooled TCAs, the throats of which had appeared in good condition after testing.
Martin-Baltimore received the propellant tanks for Gemini launch vehicle 4 from Martin-Denver, which had begun fabricating them in November 1963. Tank splicing was completed July 21. Aerojet-General delivered the stage II flight engine June 26, the stage I engine July 28. Engine installation was completed September 4. Final horizontal tests were completed and reviewed October 26, with Martin authorized to erect the vehicle in the vertical test facility.
Members of the Gemini Flights Experiments Review Panel discussed procedures for incorporating Apollo-type experiments into the Gemini program, experiments that directly supported the three-man space program. These experiments encompassed crew observations, photography, and photometry.
At a meeting of the Gemini Project Office's Trajectories and Orbits Panel, members of Flight Operations Division described two mission plans currently under consideration for the first Agena rendezvous flight. One was based on the concept of tangential Agena and spacecraft orbits, as proposed by Howard W. Tindall, Jr., and James T. Rose when they were members of Space Task Group. The second plan, based on a proposal by Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., then of Air Force Space Systems Division, involved orbits which were concentric rather than tangential. The most significant advantage of the second plan was that it provided the greatest utilization of onboard backup techniques; that is, it was specifically designed to make optimum use of remaining onboard systems in the event of failure in the inertial guidance system platform, computer, or radar.
The boilerplate achieved a horizontal velocity of 60 feet per second and a vertical velocity of about 40 feet per second at the time of impact with the water. The test was conducted to obtain data on landing accelerations for various speeds and attitudes of the spacecraft.
The first Gemini mission, Gemini-Titan I, was launched from Complex 19 at Cape Kennedy at 11:00 a.m., e.s.t. This was an unmanned flight, using the first production Gemini spacecraft and a modified Titan II Gemini launch vehicle (GLV). The mission's primary purpose was to verify the structural integrity of the GLV and spacecraft, as well as to demonstrate the GLV's ability to place the spacecraft into a prescribed earth orbit. Mission plans did not include separation of the spacecraft from the second stage of the vehicle, and both were inserted into orbit as a unit six minutes after launch. The planned mission encompassed only the first three orbits and ended about four hours and 50 minutes after liftoff. No recovery was planned for this mission, but Goddard continued to track the spacecraft until it reentered the atmosphere on the 64th orbital pass over the southern Atlantic Ocean (April 12) and disintegrated. The flight qualified the GLV and its systems and the structure of the spacecraft.
Test program to determine the heat level on the base of the Gemini spacecraft during .abort conditions. Arnold Engineering Development Center conducted a test program to determine the heat level on the base of the Gemini spacecraft during firing of the retrorockets under abort conditions from altitudes of 150,000 feet and up. Preliminary evaluation indicated that no base heating problem existed.
Phase II of the program to incorporate a drogue stabilization chute in the parachute recovery system began at El Centro. The purpose of Phase II was to develop the stabilization chute and determine its reefing parameters. The first test in the series, which used a weighted, instrumented, bomb-shaped parachute test vehicle (PTV), experienced several malfunctions culminating in the loss of all parachutes and the destruction of the PTV when it hit the ground. Subsequent analysis failed to isolate the precise cause of the malfunctions. No useful data were obtained from the second drop, on May 5, when an emergency drag chute inadvertently deployed and prevented the PTV from achieving proper test conditions. Subsequent tests, however, were largely successful, and Phase II ended on November 19 with the 15th drop in the PTV series. This completed developmental testing of the parachute recovery system drogue configuration; qualification tests began December 17.
Structural qualification testing of the ballute stabilization system was completed in the wind tunnel at Arnold Engineering Development Center. Two subsonic and four supersonic runs at design conditions and two ultimate runs at 150 percent of design maximum dynamic pressure showed the four-foot ballute to be fully satisfactory as a stabilization device. Final qualification of the ballute was completed as part of a personnel parachute, high-altitude, drop test program which began in January 1965.
Air Force Space Systems Division (SSD) recommended a Gemini Agena launch on a nonrendezvous mission to improve confidence in target vehicle performance before undertaking a rendezvous mission. Gemini Project Office (GPO) rejected this plan, regarding it as impractical within current schedule, launch sequence, and cost restraints. Additional Details: here....
After reviewing the results of Gemini-Titan (GT) 1, the Gemini Management Panel remained optimistic that manned flight could be accomplished in 1964. According to the work schedule, GT-2 could fly on August 24 and GT-3 on November 16, with comfortable allowances for four-week slips for each mission. Some special attention was devoted to GT-2, where the spacecraft had become the pacing item, a position held by the launch vehicle on GT-1. Spacecraft No. 2 systems tests had started one month late but were proceeding well. In addition, the schedule looked tight for starting spacecraft No. 3 systems tests on June 1.
C. Howard Robins, Jr., and others in the MSC Advanced Spacecraft Technology Division investigated the suitability of and formulated a tentative mission flight plan for using a Gemini spacecraft to link up with an orbiting vehicle to achieve a long-duration space mission (dubbed the 'Pecan' mission). The two crewmen were to transfer to the Pecan for the duration of the mission. As with similar investigations for the application of Apollo hardware, the scheme postulated by Robins and his colleagues emphasized maximum use of existing and planned hardware, facilities, and operational techniques.
Air Force Space Systems Division (SSD) accepted the first Agena D (AD-71) for the Gemini program. The Agena D was a production-line vehicle procured from Lockheed by SSD for NASA through routine procedures. Following minor retrofit operations, the vehicle, now designated Gemini Agena target vehicle 5001, entered the manufacturing final assembly area at the Lockheed plant on May 14. There began the conversion of the Agena D into a target vehicle for Gemini rendezvous missions. Major modifications were installation of a target docking adapter (supplied by McDonnell), an auxiliary equipment rack, external status displays, a secondary propulsion system, and an L-band tracking radar.
The spacecraft computer formal qualification unit completed Predelivery Acceptance Tests (PDA) and was delivered to McDonnell. The flight unit for spacecraft No. 2 was delivered during the first week in May. Later in the month, a complete inrtial guidance system formal integration PDA was completed on spacecraft No. 2 (May 22). The spacecraft No. 3 flight unit completed PDA on June 6.
Manned Spacecraft Center's Landing and Recovery Division conducted rough water suitability tests with Gemini boilerplate spacecraft in the Gulf of Mexico. Sea conditions during the tests were 4 to 8 foot waves and 20 to 25 knot surface winds. Tests were conducted with the flotation collar which had been air-dropped. Egress from the spacecraft on the water was carried out and the survival kit recovery beacon was exercised. The tests of the dye marker produced a water pattern that was not completely satisfactory. The flotation collar endured the rough seas quite well.
First of a series of three tests to complete the qualification of the Gemini parachute recovery system. The first of a series of three tests, using static article No. 7, to complete the qualification of the Gemini parachute recovery system for spacecraft No. 2 was conducted at El Centro. T Additional Details: here....
Gemini spacecraft No. 3 began Phase I modular Spacecraft Systems Tests (SST) at McDonnell under the direction of the Launch Preparation Group. The Development Engineering Inspection of the spacecraft was held June 9-10. The new rendezvous and recovery section, incorporating the high-altitude drogue parachute, was installed and checked out during July and August. Modular SST and preparations for Phase II mated SST were completed September 12.
Gemini Program Office (GPO), encouraged by several highly successful tests, reported that all orbit attitude and maneuver system thrust chamber assembly (TCA) designs had been frozen. A 25-pound TCA tested to the 578-second mission duty cycle was still performing within specification requirements after more than 2100 seconds with a maximum skin temperature of 375 degrees F. Additional Details: here....
This was a preliminary test to prove that hatches and hatch actuators would function properly under abort conditions; no ejection was attempted. The test was successful, and qualification testing proper began on July 1 with test No. 7. The test simulated conditions of maximum dynamic pressure following an abort from the powered phase of Gemini flight, the vehicle being positioned heatshield forward as in reentry. Both seats ejected and all systems functioned as designed. Further sled testing was delayed by slow delivery of pyrotechnics; sled test No. 8 was not run until November 5. This test revealed a structural deficiency in the ejection seat. When the feet of one of the dummies came out of the stirrups, the seat pitched over and yawed to the left, overloading the left side panel. The panel broke off, interrupting the sequence of the ejection system, and the seat and dummy never separated; both seat and dummy were destroyed when they hit the ground. Representatives of Manned Spacecraft Center and McDonnell met during the week of November 15 to consider revising the test program as a result of this failure. They decided to conduct test No. 9 under conditions approximating the most severe for which the ejection system was designed, in order to demonstrate the adequacy of the reworked seat structure. Test No. 9 was run on December 11, successfully demonstrating the entire ejection sequence and confirming the structural redesign. This brought the qualification sled test program to an end.
Group 1 (selected April 1959) and Group 2 (September 1962) astronauts averaged approximately 100 runs each whereas Group 3 (October 1963) astronauts completed 32 runs apiece. The Gemini-Titan 3 launch profile was simulated in detail, including such cues as noise, vibration, pitch and roll programming, and other motion cues which results from various launch anomalies. The training was completed July 30.
Representatives of NASA, McDonnell, Weber Aircraft, and Air Force 6511th Test Group met to define the basic objectives of a program to demonstrate the functional reliability of the Gemini personnel recovery system under simulated operational conditions. Such a program had been suggested at a coordination meeting on the ejection seat system on October 30, 1963. The planned program called for the recovery system to be ejected from an F-106 aircraft, beginning with a static ground test in September, to demonstrate compatibility between the recovery system and the aircraft. Two full system tests, using a production configuration recovery system, would complete the program in about a month. The program was delayed by the unavailability of pyrotechnics. The static ground test was successfully conducted October 15, using pyrotechnics from the paraglider tow test vehicle (TTV) seat. The TTV seat pyrotechnics were adequate to demonstrate system/aircraft compatibility but lacked certain items required for full system test. Full system testing accordingly did not begin until January 28, 1965.
Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., Assistant Director for Flight Operations, Manned Spacecraft Center, reported that three basic plans were under study for rendezvous missions. Rendezvous at first apogee would probably be rejected because of possible dispersions which might necessitate plane changes. Rendezvous from concentric orbits seemed to be desirable because of the freedom in selection of the geographic position of rendezvous. Major work thus far, however, had been expended on the tangential rendezvous. Subsequently, the concentric orbit plan was chosen for Gemini-Titan 6, the first rendezvous mission.
Martin-Baltimore received the propellant tanks for Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 5 from Martin-Denver, which had begun fabrication in October 1963. Aerojet-General delivered the flight engines for GLV-5 November 5. Tank splicing was completed December 5; engine installation December 9. Final horizontal tests were completed January 7, 1965.
Static article No. 4 was dropped from the landing system test rig heatshield forward and incurred no damage. In the second test, on July 13, the unit was dropped conical section forward. A pressure decay test of the cabin after the drop indicated a very small leak. The test unit was left in the water for two weeks and took on a pint of water, meeting qualification requirements.
Flight Crew Support Division objected to McDonnell procedures for conducting ejection seat sled tests because they were not adequate to give confidence in manned use of the seats. The dummies were being rigged with extreme restraint-harness tensions and highly torqued joints which could not be achieved with human subjects. McDonnell was requested to review the situation and prepare a report for Gemini Program Office.
Gemini Program Office reported that tests had been conducted on section I of the fuel cells planned for the long-duration Gemini-Titan 5 mission. These tests had resulted in a failure characterized by output decay. A complete investigation was in process to determine the cause of the failure.
Astronauts James A. McDivitt and Edward H. White II were named as command pilot and pilot, respectively, for the Gemini-Titan (GT) 4 mission scheduled for the first quarter of 1965. The backup crew for the mission would be Frank Borman, command pilot, and James A. Lovell, Jr., pilot. Additional Details: here....
North American conducted the first tow test vehicle (TTV) captive-flight test required by the Paraglider Landing System Program. A helicopter towed the TTV to 2600 feet. After about 20 minutes of total flight time, the test pilot brought the TTV to a smooth three-point landing. The tow cable was released immediately after touchdown, the wing about four seconds later. This highly successful flight was followed on August 7 by a free-flight test that was much less successful. After the TTV was towed by helicopter to 15,500 feet and released, it went into a series of uncontrolled turns, and the pilot was forced to bail out. North American then undertook a test program to isolate the malfunction and correct it, including 14 radio-controlled, half-scale TTV test flights between August 24 and December 13. Two highly successful radio-controlled, full-scale TTV free flights on December 15 and 17 justified another attempted pilot-controlled flight on December 19, with excellent results.
The system was inadvertently operated for 15 minutes during a short circuit prior to the scheduled test. System performance was poor, and two of the cells would not carry loads of six amperes. The test was terminated. The product water sample obtained from the test was extremely acidic, indicating a potential membrane failure.
At a meeting of the NASA-McDonnell Management Panel, the problem of the extravehicular activity (EVA) chest pack size was discussed. If stowed on spacecraft No. 6, it would take up space that would otherwise be available for experiments on that mission, and the same would be true on subsequent missions. A study was requested from McDonnell, as well as suggestions for alternative plans. One such alternative proposed was the storing of some experiments in the adapter section - but this, of course, meant that EVA would be a prerequisite for those experiments.
Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) Procurement and Contracts Division reported that the amendment to the Gemini flight suit contract covering G3C flight suits and related equipment for Gemini-Titan (GT) 3 had been sent to the contractor, David Clark Company. The first four Gemini flight suits, to be used in GT-3, were delivered to MSC late in August. Because of earlier problems in fitting training suits, astronauts had had preliminary fittings of the flight suits before final delivery.
Gemini Program Office (GPO) reported the substantial completion of all research and development testing of components. These included the thrust chamber assemblies, of the reentry control system (RCS) and orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS) as configured for spacecraft Nos. 2 through 5. Additional Details: here....
Manned Spacecraft Center reported that efforts were still being made to clarify production problems at Ordnance Associates, Pasadena, California, pyrotechnics contractor for the Gemini program. The problems appeared to be more extensive than had been previously indicated. Problems of poor planning or fabrication and testing were complicated by poor quality control. In many areas it was difficult to trace the routing of parts. These problems were caused by inadequate record-keeping and frequent by-passing of checkpoints by development engineers who were trying to expedite the release of parts for test programs. Efforts to solve these difficulties stopped production for a time and delayed the overall program.
Early in the month, Bell Aerosystems began a test program to identify the cause of the failure of the secondary propulsion system (SPS) Unit II thrust chamber during Preliminary Flight Rating Tests. The wall of the thrust chamber had burned through near the injector face before attaining the specification accumulated firing time of 400 seconds. Six series of tests, each comprising three 50-second firings separated by 30-minute coast periods, were planned, with the temperature range of fuel and oxidizer varied for each series. Originally planned for completion in two weeks, the test program was delayed by test cell problems and did not end until mid-November. Only four test series were actually run, but they were enough to establish that the chamber wall burned through when both fuel and oxidizer were at elevated temperatures (above 100 degrees F) and only when burn time approached 50 seconds. Gemini Project Office concluded that no mission problem existed because Lockheed's analysis of SPS operation indicated that the maximum propellant temperature range in orbit was 0 degrees to 85 degrees F, including a 30 degree F margin. (Nominal temperature range was 30 degrees to 55 degrees F.)
Spacecraft No. 2 arrived at Cape Kennedy and was installed in the Cryogenic Building of the Merritt Island Launch Area Fluid Test Complex. There it was inspected and connected to aerospace ground equipment (AGE), and hypergolic and cryogenic servicing was performed. Additional Details: here....
Manned Spacecraft Center announced at a Trajectories and Orbit Panel meeting that several changes in the ground rules had been made to the Gemini-Titan 6 mission plan. One change concerned a previous assumption of a 20-day Agena lifetime; it was now established that the Agena would not be modified to provide this. As a result, greater emphasis had to be placed on ensuring spacecraft launch on the same day as the Agena, primarily by relieving the constraint of no Agena maneuvers. The restriction on using Agena maneuvers had been removed to increase the probability of achieving rendezvous within the few days that the Agena would remain an acceptable target.
Representatives from Instrumentation and Electronics Division conducted preliminary rendezvous radar flight tests at White Sands Missile Range. Testing was interrupted while the T-33 aircraft being used was down for major maintenance and was then resumed on October 19. Flight testing of the rendezvous radar concluded December 8.
Gemini Program Manager Charles W. Mathews presented the Gemini Management Panel with the new flight schedule resulting from the lightning strike and hurricane conditions. The schedule was as follows: Gemini-Titan (GT) 2, November 17; GT-3, January 30, 1965; and GT-4, April 12. For GT-4 through GT-7, three-month launch intervals were planned; for the remainder of the program, these intervals would be reduced to two and one half months.
Fuel cells and batteries were discussed as power sources for the Gemini-Titan (GT) 5 mission (long-duration) at a meeting of the Gemini Management Panel. A study was reviewed that proposed a combination to be used in the following manner: batteries would be used during peak load requirements; the fuel cell would supply the remaining mission power source requirements. The panal accepted the proposal, and McDonnell was directed to proceed with the plan. In addition, the group decided to remove the fuel cell from GT-4 and substitute batteries, pending the concurrence of NASA Headquarters. It also decided to fly older versions of the fuel cell in GT-2 (the redesigned version would be flown in the later manned flights) to gain flight experience with the component. Additional Details: here....
During the two days of tests, spacecraft postlanding systems functioned satisfactorily, but the two crew members were uncomfortable while wearing their pressure suits. The comfort level was improved by removing the suits, but cabin heat and humidity levels were high. The test was stopped after 17 hours by the approach of Hurricane Hilda. A test to determine if opening the hatch would alleviate the heat and humidity problem was conducted November 13; temperature did fall, enhancing comfort of the test subjects. Three days later an at-sea test demonstrated water egress procedure. The astronauts left the spacecraft and were able to close and latch the hatch behind them, indicating that the reentry vehicle could be recovered even if the astronauts had to leave it.
The vehicle acceptance team for Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 3 met for the second time to review test and manufacturing data at Martin-Baltimore. The meeting concluded on October 9 with the vehicle found acceptable and Martin was authorized to remove it from the vertical test cell. After final checks, weighing, and balancing, GLV-3 passed roll-out inspection on October 27 and was turned over to the Air Force. Air Force Space Systems Division formally accepted GLV-3, following a review of launch vehicle status and correction of discrepancy items.
First major tests of the NASA worldwide tracking network were conducted in preparation for manned orbital flights in the Gemini program. Simulated flight missions were carried out over nine days and invloved Goddard Space Flight Center, Mission Control Center at the Cape, and eight remote sites in the worldwide network to test tracking and communications equipment, as well as flight control procedures and equipment. This completed the updating of the Manned Space Flight Tracking Network to support the Gemini flights. Converting the Mercury network for Gemini had taken two years and cost $50 million.
Crew Systems Division reported that zero-g tests had been conducted at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to evaluate extravehicular life support system ingress techniques. Results showed that, after practice at zero-g, subjects wearing the chest pack had successfully entered the spacecraft and secured the hatch in approximately 50 seconds.
Flight Crew Support Division reported that the Gemini-Titan (GT) 3 primary crew had completed egress practice in boilerplate No. 201 in the Ellington Air Force Base flotation tank. The backup GT-4 crew was scheduled for such training on October 23. Full-scale egress and recovery training for both the GT-3 and the GT-4 crews was scheduled to begin about January 15, when parachute refresher courses would also be scheduled.
Crew Systems Division reported that the first Gemini extravehicular prototype suit had been received from the contractor and assigned to Astronaut James A.McDivitt for evaluation in the Gemini mission simulator. Crew Systems Division reported that the first Gemini extravehicular prototype suit had been received from the contractor and assigned to Astronaut James A. McDivitt for evaluation in the Gemini mission simulator. During the test, McDivitt complained of some bulkiness and immobility while the suit was in the unpressurized condition, but the bulk did not appear to hinder mobility when the suit was pressurized. The thermal/micrometeoroid cover layer had been installed on a test suit sent to Ling-Temco-Vought for thermal testing in the space simulator chamber.
MSC's Crew Systems Division investigated environmental control system (ECS) implications of using Gemini suits in Block I missions. The results indicated that the ECS was capable of maintaining nominal cabin temperature and carbon dioxide partial pressure levels; however, this mode of operation always had an adverse effect on cabin dewpoint temperature and water condensation rate.
Russell L. Schweickart spent eight days in a Gemini space suit to evaluate Gemini biomedical recording instruments. While in the suit, the astronaut flew several zero-g flight profiles, went through a simulated four-day Gemini mission, and experienced several centrifuge runs.
NASA announced the appointment of Brig. Gen. David M. Jones as Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight (effective December 15). Most recently, Jones had been Deputy Chief of Staff, Systems, in the Air Force Systems Command. He would be "primarily concerned with major development problems in the Gemini and Apollo Programs, the planning for Advanced Missions and all Mission Operations." Further, Jones would "work with other NASA program offices to insure optimum use of other elements of NASA to accomplish program objectives."
The Electrical Interface Integrated Validation, confirming compatibility between launch vehicle and spacecraft and checking out redundant circuits connecting the interface, was completed November 9. This was followed by the Joint Guidance and Control Test, completed Novenber 12, which established proper functioning of the secondary guidance system, comprising the spacecraft inertial guidance system and the launch vehicle's secondary flight control system.
Shipment was delayed, however, because GLV-2 had not yet been launched; and several modifications, scheduled for the Cape, were made at Baltimore instead. All work was completed by January 14, 1965; the vehicle was reinspected and was again available for delivery. Preparations for shipment were completed January 20, and stage II was airlifted to Cape Kennedy January 21, followed by stage I January 23.
The vehicle acceptance team inspected the vehicle and reviewed all test and manufacturing data December 11-13 and authorized Martin to remove GLV-4 from the vertical test cell. During the next three months, while awaiting shipment to Cape Kennedy, GLV-4 had 27 engineering changes installed. Final integrity checks, weighing, and balancing were completed March 8, 1965.
Astronauts James McDivitt and Edward White, command pilot and pilot for the Gemini-Titan 4 mission, began crew training on Gemini mission simulator No. 2 in Houston. The initial week of training was devoted to familiarizing the crew with the interior of the spacecraft.
NASA advised North American that no funds were available for further flight testing in the Paraglider Landing System Program, following completion of full-scale test vehicle flight test No. 25. NASA did authorize North American to use the test vehicles and equipment it had for a contractor-supported flight test program. North American conducted a two-week test program which culminated in a highly successful manned tow-test vehicle flight on December 19.
A four-day comfort test of the Gemini space suit was started as part of the suit qualification test program. The test utilized a human volunteer and ended successfully on December 11. The suited subject used Gemini food and bioinstrumentation and the Gemini waste management systems hardware.
Phase II provided refresher training for Gemini-Titan 3 and 4 flight crews, who made their runs clad in pressure suits. For astronauts not yet officially assigned to a mission the program provided familiarization training under shirt-sleeve conditions. Phase II had begun early in November.
This was not only the Gemini program's first Atlas, but also the first SLV-3 on a new complex. Tests began to validate the pad and its associated aerospace ground equipment (AGE). AGE validation was completed December 30, propellant loading tests in mid-January 1965. Testing ended on February 11 with a flight readiness demonstration.
Phase III tests to qualify the Gemini parachute recovery system began with a successful drop of static article No. 7. In addition to No. 7, static article No. 4A was also used in the series of 10 tests. All tests were successful, with neither parachute nor sequencing failures. Phase III ended on February 11, 1965, with the 10th drop test. This completed the qualification of the Gemini parachute system.
Cleaning the tanks and purging them with nitrogen was completed February 5, 1965. Aerojet-General delivered the flight engines for GLV-6 February 1. Tank splicing was completed February 23, engine installation, February 25. GLV-6 horizontal testing was completed April 3.
During test No. 1 (December 19-21), the spacecraft coolant system froze. Over the next three weeks, the coolant system was retested and redesigned. The modified coolant system was subsequently installed in other spacecraft. Test No. 2 was run January 6-13, and the test program ended February 19 with the third test run. The three test runs in total simulated over 220 orbits.
This suit contained a thermal/micrometeoroid cover layer, a redundant closure, and the open visor assembly for visual, thermal, and structural protection. Zero-gravity tests in January 1965 showed the suit to be generally satisfactory, but the heavy cover layer made moving around in it awkward. The cover layer was redesigned to remove excess bulk. The new cover layer proved satisfactory when it was tested in February.
After conferring with the Space Medicine Branch and with the Gemini and Apollo support offices, Crew Systems Division officials opted for identical bioinstrumentation in both blocks of Apollo spacecraft. Hamilton Standard would also try to use identical harnesses.
After its receiving inspection had been completed (January 6), the spacecraft was moved to the Merritt Island Launch Area Radar Range for a communications radiation test. This test, performed only on spacecraft No. 3 because it was scheduled for the first manned mission, exercised spacecraft communications in a radio-frequency environment closely simulating the actual flight environment. The test was run January 7, and the spacecraft then began preparations for static firing.
NASA Headquarters provided Flight Operations Division with preliminary data for revising the Gemini-Titan (GT) 3 flight plan to cover the possibility of retrorocket failure. The problem was to ensure the safe reentry of the astronauts even should it become impossible to fire the retrorockets effectively. The Headquarters proposal incorporated three orbit attitude and maneuver system maneuvers to establish a fail-safe orbit from which the spacecraft would reenter the atmosphere whether the retrorockets fired or not. This proposal, as refined by Mission Planning and Analysis Division, became part of the flight plans for GT-3 and GT-4.
The test program to qualify the Gemini escape-system personel parachute began with two low-altitude dummy drops. The backboard and egress kit failed to separate cleanly; the interference causing the trouble was corrected, and the parachute was successfully tested in two more drops on January 15. Four high-altitude dummy drops followed during the week of January 18. System sequencing was satisfactory, but in two of the four drops the ballute deployed too slowly. The problem was corrected and checked out in two more dummy drops on February 12 and 16. In the meantime, low-altitude live jump tests had begun on January 28. The 12th and final test in this series was completed February 10. Aside from difficulties in test procedures, this series proceeded without incident. High-altitude live jump tests began February 17.
The mock-up was installed in a KC-135 aircraft to provide astronauts with the opportunity to practice extravehicular activities under weightless conditions. The Gemini-Titan (GT) 3 flight crew participated in the opening exercises, which were duplicated the next day by the GT-4 flight crew.
Donald K. Slayton, MSC Assistant Director for Flight Crew Operations, pointed out to Managers of the ASPO and the Gemini Program Office that a number of units of spacecraft control and display equipment were needed to support the Spacecraft Control Office in the areas of spacecraft crew procedures development, crew station equipment development, flight crew familiarization, training, and spacecraft mission preparation. Such equipment was needed within MSC, at other NASA Centers, and at contractor facilities to support centrifuge programs, research vehicle programs, launch abort simulations, rendezvous and docking simulations, retrofire and reentry simulations, and other mission phase simulations. Slayton emphasized that uncoordinated requests for hardware procurement to support these programs were excessively costly in terms of equipment.
Slayton said that a "satisfactory method to reduce costs and increase equipment utilization and effectiveness is to assign responsibility as custodian to one technically cognizant organization which will ascertain the total requirement for equipment and be responsible for coordinating procurement and allocating and transferring hardware assignment required to meet program requirements." He recommended that the Crew Station Branch of Flight Crew Support Division be given the consolidated responsibilities.
A task force in the Office of Manned Space Flight finished a two-month study to determine the requirements for reducing the interval between Gemini flights from three to two months. The findings and recommendations were presented to George E. Mueller, NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, on January 19. Additional Details: here....
Gemini spacecraft No. 3 thrusters were static fired as part of a complete, end-to-end propulsion system verification test program carried out on spacecraft Nos. 2 and 3 to provide an early thorough checkout of servicing procedures and equipment before their required use at the launch complex. T Additional Details: here....
After a long delay because pyrotechnics were not available, simulated off-the-pad ejection (SOPE) qualification testing resumed with SOPE No. 12. Performance of the left seat was completely satisfactory, but the right seat rocket catapult fired prematurely because the right hatch actuator malfunctioned. The seat collided with the hatch and failed to leave the test vehicle. All hatch actuators were modified to preclude repetition of this failure. After being tested, the redesigned hatch actuators were used in SOPE No. 13 on February 12. The test was successful, and all systems functioned properly. This portion of the qualification test program came to a successful conclusion with SOPE No. 14 on March 6. The complete ejection system functioned as designed, and all equipment was recovered in excellent condition.
The second Titan II Gemini Launch Vehicle (GLV-2) carried the unmanned, instrumented Gemini spacecraft (GT-2) for a suborbital shot preliminary to the first U.S. two-man Gemini mission. During the countdown for Gemini-Titan (GT) 2, the fuel cell hydrogen inlet valve failed to open. Efforts to correct the problem continued until it was determined that freeing the valve would delay the countdown. Work on the fuel cell ceased, and it was not activated for the flight. The fuel cell installed in spacecraft No. 2 was not a current flight design. When fuel cell design was changed in January 1964, several cells of earlier design were available. Although these cells were known to have some defects, flight testing with the reactant supply system was felt to be extremely desirable. Accordingly, it was decided to fly the entire system on GT-2, but only on a "non-interference with flight" basis. When it became clear that correcting the problem that emerged during the GT-2 countdown would cause delay, fuel cell activation for the flight was called off.
The NASA-McDonnell incentive contract for the Gemini spacecraft was approved by NASA Headquarters Procurement Office and the Office of Manned Space Flight. The preliminary negotiations between Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) and McDonnell had been completed on December 22, 1964. The contract was then sent to NASA Headquarters for approval of MSC's position in preliminary negotiations. This position was approved on January 5, 1965, at which time final negotiations began. The negotiations were completed on January 15. The contract was signed by MSC and McDonnell and submitted to NASA Headquarters on January 21 for final approval.
This was the first ejection in flight to demonstrate the functional reliability of the Gemini personnel recovery system. The recovery system was ejected from an F-106 at an altitude of 15,000 feet and a speed of mach 0.72. Original plans had called for an ejection at 20,000 feet, but the altitude was lowered because of a change in the Gemini mission ground rules for mode 1 abort. Both seat and dummy were recovered without incident. The program ended on February 12 with HAET No. 3, although the dummy's parachute did not deploy. An aneroid device responsible for initiating chute deployment failed, as did an identical device on February 17 during qualification tests of the personnel parachute. These failures led to redesign of the aneroid, but since the failure could not be attributed to HAET conditions, Gemini Program Office did not consider repeating HAET necessary. All other systems functioned properly in the test, which was conducted from an altitude of 40,000 feet and at a speed of mach 1.7.
ASPO concurred with the requirement to provide an emergency defecation capability aboard the LEM as established by MSC's Center Medical Programs Office. The addition of a Gemini-type defecation glove appeared to present a satisfactory solution. Crew Systems Division was directed to proceed with their recommendation and add the Gemini gloves to the LEM crew provisions.
McDonnell completed major manufacturing activity, module tests, and equipment installation for Gemini spacecraft No. 4. Phase I modular testing had begun November 30, 1964. Mating of the spacecraft reentry and adapter assemblies was completed February 23. Systems Assurance Tests began February 24.
Because of interest expressed by George M. Low, Deputy Director of Manned Spacecraft Center, in spacecraft weight-control vigilance at the previous Gemini Management Panel meeting, Gemini Program Manager Charles W. Mathews reported that weight had increased only 12 pounds in the past month, and a 'leveling-off trend' had been discernible over the last two months. Low, however, was still concerned about the dangers of unforeseen growth as the program progressed from flight to flight. Walter F. Burke of McDonnell suggested that redundant systems be eliminated once the primary systems had been proved. Ernst R. Letsch of Aerospace warned that spacecraft weight was growing to over 8000 pounds, which should require some checking of the structural loads. Both Air Force Space Systems Division and the Gemini Program Office were charged by Low to pay close attention to weight factor.
Modifications to Gemini launch vehicle 5 were completed and stage I was erected in the vertical test facility at Martin-Baltimore. Stage II was erected February 8. Power was applied to the vehicle for the first time on February 15, and Subsystems Functional Verification Tests were completed March 8. Another modification period followed.
NASA invited 113 scientists and 23 national space organizations to a conference at MSC to brief them on the Gemini and Apollo missions. As a result of the conference, NASA hoped to receive proposals for biomedical experiments to be performed in Gemini and Apollo spacecraft.
Atlas standard launch vehicle 5301 completed testing on complex 14 with a flight-readiness demonstration. It was then deerected and transferred to Hanger J, where its sustainer engine was to be replaced. Replacement was finished April 19, and the new level sensor and vernier engine was installed on April 21. The vehicle was returned to complex 14 and erected again on June 18.
Director of Flight Operations Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., told the Manned Spacecraft Center senior staff that the Gemini-Titan (GT) 3 mission might be flown between March 22 and 25, although it was officially scheduled for the second quarter of 1965. In addition, the Houston control center was being considered for use in the GT-4 mission.
The Electrical Interface Integrated Validation Test was completed February 19, the Joint Guidance and Control Test on February 22. Gemini-Titan 3 combined systems testing included the Joint Combined Systems Test on February 24 and the Flight Configuration Mode Test on March 3.
The ballute failed to deploy because of a malfunction of the aneroid device responsible for initiating ballute deployment. The identical malfunction had occurred during the high-altitude ejection test on February 12. These two failures prompted a design review of the ballute deployment mechanism. The aneroid was modified, and the qualification test program for the personnel parachute was realigned. In place of the remaining 23 low-altitude live jump tests, 10 high-altitude dummy drops using the complete personnel parachute system (including the ballute), followed by five high-altitude live jumps, would complete the program. The 10 dummy drops were conducted March 2-5 at altitudes from 12,000 to 18,000 feet and at speeds from 130 to 140 knots indicated air speed (KIAS). All sequences functioned normally in all tests but one: in that one, the ballute failed to leave its deployment bag (corrected by eliminating the bag closure pin from the design) and the backboard and egress kit failed to separate (resolved by instituting a special inspection procedure). The five live jumps were conducted March 8-13 at altitudes from 15,000 to 31,000 feet and at a speed of 130 KIAS. Again all test were successful but one, in which the ballute failed to deploy. After a free fall to 9200 feet, the subject punched the manual override, actuating the personnel parachute. This series completed qualification of the personnel parachute and also of the overall Gemini escape system.
The U.S. Navy Air Crew Equipment Laboratory began testing the Gemini Block I Apollo space suit in a wide range of environmental temperatures to determine the comfort and physiological responses of the wearer. The program, delayed because of difficulties with humidity control, was to be completed in three to four weeks.
Tank fabrication had begun in May 1964. Martin-Baltimore recleaned and purged the tanks with nitrogen by April 20, 1965. In the meantime, flight engines for GLV-7 arrived from Aerojet-General on April 17. Tank splicing was completed May 6 and engine installation May 20. All horizontal testing was completed June 14. A modification period followed.
A full-scale rehearsal of the flight crew countdown for Gemini-Titan 3 was conducted at the launch site. Procedures were carried out for moving the flight crew from their quarters in the Manned Spacecraft Center operations building at Merritt Island to the pilot's ready room at complex 16 at Cape Kennedy. Complete flight crew suiting operation in the ready room, the transfer to complex 19, and crew ingress into the spacecraft were practiced. Practice countdown proceeded smoothly and indicated that equipment and procedures were flight ready.
Office of Manned Space Flight held the Gemini manned space flight design certification review in Washington. Chief executives of all major Gemini contractors certified the readiness of their products for manned space flight. Gemini-Titan 3 was ready for launch as soon as the planned test and checkout procedures at Cape Kennedy were completed.
At a meeting of the Gemini Trajectory and Orbits Panel, Air Force Space Systems Division repeated its position that on Gemini-Titan 6 the nominal plan should not call for use in orbit of the Agena primary propulsion system, since it would not be qualified in actual flight before this mission. Additional Details: here....
Crew Systems Division (CSD) engineers were studying several items that, though intended specifically for the Gemini program, were applicable to Apollo as well:
Altitude Chamber Tests of Gemini spacecraft No. 4, involving five simulated flights, began at McDonnell. The first run was unmanned. In the second run, the prime crew flew a simulated mission, but the chamber was not evacuated. The third run repeated the second, with the backup crew replacing the prime crew. The fourth run put the prime crew through a flight at simulated altitude, and the fifth did the same for the backup crew. Altitude chamber testing ended March 25, and the spacecraft was prepared for shipment to Cape Kennedy.
First manned test flight of Gemini. Virgil I. Grissom and John W. Young entered an elliptical orbit about the earth. After three orbits, the pair manually landed their spacecraft in the Atlantic Ocean, thus performing the first controlled reentry. Unfortunately, they landed much farther from the landing zone than anticipated, about 97 km (60 miles) from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Intrepid. But otherwise the mission was highly successful. Gemini III, America's first two-manned space mission, also was the first manned vehicle that was maneuverable. Grissom used the vehicle's maneuvering rockets to effect orbital and plane changes. Grissom wanted to name the spacecraft 'Molly Brown' (as in the Unsinkable, a Debbie Reynolds/Howard Keel screen musical). NASA was not amused and stopped allowing the astronauts to name their spacecraft (until forced to when having two spacecraft aloft at once during the Apollo missions). The flight by Young was the first of an astronaut outside of the original seven. Young, who created a media flap by taking a corned beef sandwich aboard as a prank, would go on to fly to the moon on Apollo and the Space Shuttle on its first flight sixteen years later.
The orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS) 25-pound thrusters installed in spacecraft No. 4 were replaced with new long-life engines. Installation of the new engines had been planned for spacecraft No. 5, but they were ready earlier than had been anticipated. Additional Details: here....
After the vehicle had been inspected, umbilicals were connected March 31 and power applied April 2. Subsystems Functional Verification Tests began immediately and were completed April 15. The Prespacecraft Mate Combined Systems Test was conducted the next day (April 16).
The possibility of doing more than the previously planned stand-up form of extravehicular activity (EVA) was introduced at an informal meeting in the office of Director Robert R. Gilruth at Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC). Present at the meeting, in addition to Gilruth and Deputy Director George M. Low, were Richard S. Johnston of Crew Systems Division (CSD) and Warren J. North of Flight Crew Operations Division. Johnston presented a mock-up of an EVA chestpack, as well as a prototype hand-held maneuvering unit. North expressed his division's confidence that an umbilical EVA could be successfully achieved on the Gemini-Titan 4 mission. Receiving a go-ahead from Gilruth, CSD briefed George E. Mueller, Associate Administrator for Mannned Space Flight, on April 3 in Washington. He, in turn, briefed the Headquarters Directorates. The relevant MSC divisions were given tentative approval to continue the preparations and training required for the operation. Associate Administrator of NASA, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., visited MSC for further briefing on May 14. The enthusiasm he carried back to Washington regarding flight-readiness soon prompted final Headquarters approval.
Manned Spacecraft Center announced that Walter M. Schirra, Jr., and Thomas P. Stafford had been selected as command pilot and pilot for Gemini-Titan 6, the first Gemini rendezvous and docking mission. Virgil I. Grissom and John W. Young would be the backup crew.
Cabling for test was completed April 19, and premate systems tests began. For the first time, Mission Control Center, Houston, supported Kennedy Space Center pad operations. Systems testing ended April 21. The Prespacecraft Mate Simulated Flight Test was conducted April 22-23.
Tank fabrication had begun September 25, 1964. Aerojet-General delivered the stage I engine on June 16 and the stage II on August 20. In the meantime, tank splicing was completed August 3. Engine installation was completed September 23, and all hoizontal testing ended September 27.
The Combined Systems Acceptance Test (CSAT) of Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 5 was conducted in the vertical test facility at Martin-Baltimore. Four earlier CSAT attempts (April 15-20) were marred by numerous minor anomalies. The vehicle acceptance team inspection began April 26 and concluded April 30, with GLV-5 found acceptable. The vehicle was removed from the test cell May 7-8, formally accepted by the Air Force May 15, and shipped to Cape Kennedy. Stage I arrived at the Cape on May 17 and stage II on May 19.
The Abort Panel met to review abort criteria for Gemini-Titan (GT) 4 and decided that GT-3 rules would suffice. Alternate procedures for delayed mode 2 abort would be investigated when the Manned Spacecraft Center abort trainer became available to the GT-5 mission.
The Electrical Interface Integrated Validation and Joint Guidance and Control Test were completed April 26-29. These had been separate tests for earlier vehicles, but from Gemini-Titan 4 on, the tests were combined and performed as one. The spacecraft/GLV Joint Combined Systems Test followed on April 30. The Flight Configuration Mode Test finished systems testing May 7.
During the test (April 28) the environmental control system (ECS) was inadvertently overpressurized. The test was halted while the ECS suit loop was investigated. Reinstallation was completed May 8, and the ECS and guidance and control systems were retested May 9-11. Simulated flight testing was resumed May 11 and completed May 19. Preparations for altitude chamber testing lasted until May 25.
McDonnell completed manufacturing, module tests, and equipment installation for Gemini spacecraft No. 6. Mating the reentry and adapter assemblies completed final assembly of the spacecraft on May 12. Cabling and test preparation lasted until June 4, when Systems Assurance Tests began.
This suit was basically the same as the G3C suit except for modifications which included a redundant zipper closure, two over-visors for visual and physical protection, automatic locking ventilation settings, and a heavier cover layer incorporating thermal and micrometeoroid protection. Six G4C suits would be at the launch site for the Gemini 4 flight crews by the end of May.
All extravehicular equipment planned for the Gemini 4 mission, including the ventilation control module, the extravehicular umbilical assembly, and the hand-held maneuvering unit, had been qualified. The flight hardware was at the launch site ready for flight at the end of May.
The second manned and first long-duration mission in the Gemini program. Major objectives of the four-day mission were demonstrating and evaluating the performance of spacecraft systems in a long-duration flight and evaluating effects on the crew of prolonged exposure to the space environment. Secondary objectives included demonstrating extravehicular activity (EVA) in space, conducting stationkeeping and rendezvous maneuvers with the second stage of the launch vehicle, performing significant in-plane and out-of-plane maneuvers, demonstrating the ability of the orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS) to back up the retrorockets, and executing 11 experiments. The stationkeeping exercise was terminated at the end of the first revolution because most of the OAMS propellant allocated for the exercise had been used; further efforts would jeopardize primary mission objectives and could mean the cancellation of several secondary objectives. No rendezvous was attempted. The only other major problem to mar the mission was the inadvertent alteration of the computer memory during the 48th revolution in an attempt to correct an apparent malfunction. This made the planned computer-controlled reentry impossible and required an open-loop ballistic reentry. All other mission objectives were met. The flight crew began preparing for EVA immediately after terminating the stationkeeping exercise. Although preparations went smoothly, McDivitt decided to delay EVA for one revolution, both because of the high level of activity required and because deletion of the rendezvous attempt reduced the tightness of the schedule. Ground control approved the decision. The spacecraft hatch was opened at 4 hours 18 minutes into the flight and White exited 12 minutes later, using a hand-held maneuvering gun. White reentered the spacecraft 20 minutes after leaving it. The hatch was closed at 4 hours 54 minutes ground elapsed time. Drifting flight was maintained for the next two and one-half days to conserve propellant. The spacecraft landed in the Atlantic Ocean about 725 km east of Cape Kennedy - some 65 km from its nominal landing point. The crew boarded a helicopter 34 minutes after landing and was transported to the prime recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Wasp. Spacecraft recovery was completed at 2:28 p.m., a little more than 100 hours after Gemini 4 had been launched. Gemini 4 was the first mission to be controlled from the mission control center in Houston.
The space walk was hurriedly included after the Russian first in Voskhod 2. White seemed to have a lot more fun than Leonov and McDivitt took the pictures that came to symbolize man in space. With this flight the US finally started to match Russian flight durations.
Gemini 4 landed at 17:11 GMT in the Atlantic Ocean about 725 km east of Cape Kennedy - some 65 km from its nominal landing point due to failure of its guidance computer. The crew boarded a helicopter 34 minutes after landing and was transported to the prime recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Wasp. Spacecraft recovery was completed at 2:28 p.m., a little more than 100 hours after Gemini 4 had been launched. Gemini 4 was the first mission to be controlled from the mission control center in Houston. Additional Details: here....
Industrial area activities were completed June 25. The spacecraft was moved to complex 19 and hoisted into position atop the launch vehicle June 26. Beginning with this spacecraft, the Premate Systems Tests and Premate Simulated Flight Test were combined to form the Premate Verification Test, which was performed on all subsequent spacecraft. The Premate Verification Test of spacecraft No. 5 was conducted June 30-July 2.
Gemini contractors proposed to launch a refurbished, modified Gemini around the moon by April 1967 for $ 350 million. The Titan 2-launched Gemini would rendezvous and dock with a Titan 3C-launched 'Double Transtage', which would propel the Gemini into a circumlunar trajectory. McDonnell-Douglas and Martin Marrietta's proposal was suppressed by NASA as a threat to the Apollo program.
The Combined Systems Acceptance Test of Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 6 was completed at Martin-Baltimore. The vehicle acceptance team convened July 6 to review GLV-6 and accepted it July 10. The vehicle was demated on July 19 and formally accepted by the Air Force July 31. Stage II was delivered to Cape Kennedy the same day, and stage I on August 2. Both stages were then placed in storage pending the launch of Gemini-Titan 5.
The spacecraft was cleaned up and moved to the altitude chamber, where it underwent phasing checks and was prepared for chamber testing. These activities were completed July 15, and altitude chamber tests were conducted July 16-21. The spacecraft was deserviced, realigned, and prepared for shipment to Cape Kennedy.
Stage I of Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 7 was erected in the east cell of the vertical test facility at Martin-Baltimore. Stage II was erected June 28. GLV-7 was inspected and prepared for testing while GLV-6 was undergoing vertical tests in the west cell. Power was applied to GLV-7 for the first time July 26. Subsystems Functional Verification Tests were completed August 25. Systems modification and retesting followed.
McDonnell concluded manufacturing, module tests, and equipment installation for Gemini spacecraft No. 7. The reentry and adapter assemblies were mated July 26 to complete final assembly fo the spacecraft. Preparing the spacecraft for test lasted until August 4, when systems assurance testing began.
The Electrical Interface Integrated Validation and Joint Guidance and Control Test began immediately and was completed July 9. The spacecraft/GLV Joint Combined Systems Test followed on July 12. The Flight Configuration Mode Test completed systems testing on July 16.
Gemini-Titan (GT) 5 was demated following completion of the Wet Mock Simulated Launch to allow the spacecraft fuel cells to be replaced and the coolant bypass to be modified. Spacecraft and launch vehicle were remated August 5. Modified Electrical Interface Integrated Validation and the Joint Guidance and Control Tests were run on August 6. Spacecraft Final Systems Test on August 9-10 and the Simulated Flight Test on August 13 completed prelaunch testing of GT-5, scheduled for launch August 19.
Atlas standard launch vehicle 5301 and Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV) 5001 were demated at complex 14, following the Simultaneous Launch Demonstration of July 22. GATV 5001 was returned to Hanger E, where it was stored as the backup vehicle for GATV 5002. On August 18, GATV 5002 was officially designated as the target vehicle for Gemini VI, the first rendezvous mission, while GATV 5001 was to be maintained in flight-ready condition as backup. Atlas 5301, which had been returned to Hanger J after demating, was moved back to complex 14 on August 16 to serve as the target launch vehicle for GATV 5002.
During a news conference, Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, Deputy Manager of the Gemini Project Office at MSC, affirmed that, although no firm decisions had yet been made, the concept of a circumlunar flight using a Gemini spacecraft was being seriously studied. The mission would use Titan II and III-C launch vehicles and would require rendezvousing in earth orbit. NASA, Martin-Marietta Corporation (builder of the Titan), and Aerojet-General Corporation (which manufactured upper stages for the III-C) all were studying the feasibility of such a flight. Later in the year, NASA Administrator James E. Webb eliminated the possibility of a Gemini circumlunar mission, ". . . our main reliance for operating at lunar distances . . . is the large Saturn V/Apollo system."
Gemini Program Manager Charles W. Mathews initiated a spacecraft manager program by assigning one engineer to Gemini spacecraft No. 6. Gemini Program Manager Charles W. Mathews initiated a spacecraft manager program by assigning one engineer to Gemini spacecraft No. 5 and another to spacecraft No. 6. A Additional Details: here....
Atlas standard launch vehicle 5302 was shipped from San Diego by truck, arriving at Cape Kennedy August 11. The vehicle had come off the production line and been delivered to the Gemini program on April 2. Final assembly had been completed May 25, installation of flight equipment and Gemini-peculiar kit June 3, and factory testing July 22. Air Force Space Systems Division had formally accepted the vehicle on July 29.
Martin-Baltimore received propellant tanks for Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 9 from Martin-Denver, which had begun fabricating them February 25. These were the first GLV tanks to be carried by rail from Denver to Baltimore. All previous tanks had traveled by air, but shortage of suitable aircraft made the change necessary. The tanks were shipped August 9. Aerojet-General delivered the stage I engine for GLV-9 August 20 and the stage II engine September 22. Tank splicing was completed October 21, engine installation November 10. Horizontal testing concluded November 23.
A spacecraft computer malfunction caused a hold of the countdown 10 minutes before the scheduled launch of Gemini-Titan 5. While the problem was being investigated, thunderstorms approached the Cape Kennedy area. With the computer problem unresolved and the weather deteriorating rapidly, the mission was scrubbed and rescheduled for August 21. Recycling began with unloading propellants.
Major objectives of the eight-day mission were evaluating the performance of the rendezvous guidance and navigation system, using a rendezvous evaluation pod (REP), and evaluating the effects of prolonged exposure to the space environment on the flight crew. Secondary objectives included demonstrating controlled reentry guidance, evaluating fuel cell performance, demonstrating all phases of guidance and control system operation needed for a rendezvous mission, evaluating the capability of either pilot to maneuver the spacecraft in orbit to rendezvous, evaluating the performance of rendezvous radar, and executing 17 experiments. The mission proceeded without incident through the first two orbits and the ejection of the REP. About 36 minutes after beginning evaluation of the rendezvous guidance and navigation system, the crew noted that the pressure in the oxygen supply tank of the fuel cell system was falling. Pressure dropped from 850 pounds per square inch absolute (psia) at 26 minutes into the flight until it stabilized at 70 psia at 4 hours 22 minutes, and gradually increased through the remainder of the mission. The spacecraft was powered down and the REP exercise was abandoned. By the seventh revolution, experts on the ground had analyzed the problem and a powering-up procedure was started. During the remainder of the mission the flight plan was continuously scheduled in real time. Four rendezvous radar tests were conducted during the mission, the first in revolution 14 on the second day; the spacecraft rendezvous radar successfully tracked a transponder on the ground at Cape Kennedy. During the third day, a simulated Agena rendezvous was conducted at full electrical load. The simulation comprised four maneuvers - apogee adjust, phase adjust, plane change, and coelliptical maneuver - using the orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS). Main activities through the fourth day of the mission concerned operations and experiments. During the fifth day, OAMS operation became sluggish and thruster No. 7 inoperative. Thruster No. 8 went out the next day, and the rest of the system was gradually becoming more erratic. Limited experimental and operational activities continued through the remainder of the mission. Retrofire was initiated in the 121st revolution during the eighth day of the mission, one revolution early because of threatening weather in the planned recovery area. Reentry and landing were satisfactory, but the landing point was 145 km short, the result of incorrect navigation coordinates transmitted to the spacecraft computer from the ground network. Landing occurred August 29, 190 hours 55 minutes after the mission had begun. The astronauts arrived on board the prime recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Lake Champlain, at 9:25. The spacecraft was recovered at 11:51 a.m.
With this flight, the US finally took the manned spaceflight endurance record from Russia, while demonstrating that the crew could survive in zero gravity for the length of time required for a lunar mission. However the mission was incredibly boring, the spacecraft just drifting to conserve fuel most of the time, and was 'just about the hardest thing I've ever done' according to a hyperactive Pete Conrad. An accident with freeze dried shrimp resulted in the cabin being filled with little pink subsatellites.
Kamanin notes that Gemini 5's main mission was to set a new space endurance record to surpass the Soviet Union; photographic coverage of Cuba, China, Vietnam, and other countries; and practice rendezvous with an Agena spacecraft. He notes the launch postponements, that the astronauts had to spend 8 hours in the capsule, awaiting launch, and the electrical power problems.
Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On expansion of military space research and on 7K-VI Zvezda' was issued. In June 1965 Gemini 4 began the first American experiments in military space. At the same time the large military Manned Orbital Laboratory space station was on the verge of being given its final go-ahead. These events caused a bit of a panic among the Soviet military, where the Soyuz-R and Almaz projects were in the very earliest stages of design and would not fly until 1968 at the earliest. VPK head Leonid Smirnov ordered that urgent measures be taken to test manned military techniques in orbit at the earliest possible date. Modifications were to be made to the Voskhod and Soyuz 7K-OK spacecraft to assess the military utility of manned visual and photographic reconnaissance; of inspection of enemy satellites from orbit; attacking enemy spacecraft; and obtaining early warning of nuclear attack. The decree instructed Kozlov to fly by 1967 a military research variant of the Soyuz 7K-OK 11F615.
Kamanin, earlier believing the problems aboard the flight indicated the unreliability of American equipment, is discouraged. He blames Malinovskiy and Smirnov for lack of support for the space program and the ridiculous situation whereby VVS pilots are being shot into space aboard missiles and spacecraft designed by artillery specialists. They oppose manned space reconnaissance, and here the Gemini crew is photographing the territory of brother socialist states..
It is becoming clear that in order to ever get Soyuz into space it is necessary to clear all decks at OKB-1. After Voskhod-2 the Soviet manned space plans are in confusion. The Americans have flown Gemini 5, setting a new 8-day manned space endurance record - the first time the Americans are ahead in the space race. They rubbed salt into the Soviet wound by sending astronauts Cooper and Conrad on a triumphal world tour. This American success is very painful to Korolev, and contributes to his visibly deteriorating health. In the absence of any coherent instructions from the Soviet leadership, Korolev makes a final personal decision between the competing manned spacecraft priorities. Work on completing a new series of Voskhod spacecraft and conducting experiments with artificial gravity are unofficially dropped and development and construction of the new Soyuz spacecraft is accelerated. The decision is shared only with the OKB-1 shop managers. One of Korolev's "conspirators" lays on Chertok's table the resulting new Soyuz master schedule. The upper left of the drawing has the single word "Agreed" with Korolev's signature. The only other signatures are those of Gherman Semenov, Turkov and Topol - Korolev has ordered all other signature blocks removed. Chertok is enraged. The plan provides for the production of thirteen spacecraft articles for development and qualification tests by December 1965! These include articles for thermal chamber runs, aircraft drop tests, water recovery tests, SAS abort systems tests, static and vibration tests, docking system development rigs, mock-ups for zero-G EVA tests aboard the Tu-104 flying laboratory, and a full-scale mock-up to be delivered to Sergei Darevskiy for conversion to a simulator. Chertok is enraged because the plan does not include dedicating one spaceframe to use as an 'iron bird' hot mock-up on which the electrical and avionics systems can be integrated and tested. Instead two completed Soyuz spacecraft are to be delivered to OKB-1's KIS facility in December and a third in January 1966. These will have to be used for systems integrations tests there before being shipped to Tyuratam for spaceflights.
The crew had to use the re-entry thrusters to orient the spacecraft due to OAMS system failures. The retrofire and re-entry were conducted in darkness by the spacecraft computer. However the computer had been misprogrammed with an erroneous rotation rate of the earth (390 degrees per day instead of 360.98 degrees per day). Cooper's efforts compensated for what he recognized as an erroneous reading and brought the capsule down closer to the ship than they would otherwise have been.
Stage II was erected the following day. Umbilicals were connected and inspected September 1, and Subsystems Reverification Tests began September 2. These tests were completed September 15. The Prespacecraft Mate Verification Test of GLV-6 was run September 16.
The spacecraft was cleaned up and moved to the altitude chamber September 9. Phasing checks were conducted September 10-11, and the spacecraft was prepared for altitude chamber tests, which began September 13. Chamber tests concluded September 17. The spacecraft was deserviced, updated, retested, and prepared for shipment to Cape Kennedy.
Gemini Program Office reported that during the missions of Gemini 4 and 5, skin-tracking procedures had been successfully developed. On these missions, the C-band radars were able to track the spacecraft in both the beacon and skin-track mode. It was, therfore, possible to obtain tracking data when the spacecraft was powered down and had no tracking beacons operating. As a result, the skin-tracking procedures were integrated into the network support for all remaining Gemini missions.
Kamanin reviews a speech by President Johnson to the US Congress. From 1954-1965 the USA spent 34 billion dollars on space, $ 26.4 billion of that in just the last four years. The Soviet Union has spent a fraction of that, but the main reason for being behind the US is poor management and organisation structure, in Kamanin's view. With the US now having the lead in space, and the Gemini 5 results showing they openly used the manned flight for military reconnaissance, the Soviet leadership has awakened to the threat. They are demanding answers - how many cosmonauts does the US have in training? What are Soviet plans for use of hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells in space? What are the flight schedules for Voskhod and Soyuz? In contradiction to these demands, Kamanin is finding it difficult to obtain funding to keep the Tu-104 weightlessness trainer flying....
The move had been scheduled for September 2 but was delayed by the presence of Hurricane Betsy in the vicinity of the Cape September 3-8. The Prespacecraft Mate Verification Test was conducted September 13-16. Preparations then began for mating the spacecraft to the launch vehicle.
During the rail trip, leaking battery acid corroded the dome of the stage II fuel tank. The tanks arrived at Martin-Baltimore September 21. The stage II fuel tank was rejected and returned to Denver. It was replaced by the stage II fuel tank from GLV-11, which completed final assembly September 25 and arrived in Baltimore November 3 after being inspected and certified. Fabrication of GLV-10 tanks had begun in April.
The Electrical Interface Integrated Validation and Joint Guidance and Control Test was completed September 21. The spacecraft/GLV Joint Combined Systems Test was run September 23. GLV tanking test was performed September 29 and the Flight Configuration Mode Test October 1, completing systems testing for Gemini-Titan 6.
The Combined Systems Acceptance Test of Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 7 was completed in the vertical test facility at Martin-Baltimore. Inspection of GLV-7 by the vehicle acceptance team began September 27 and ended October 1, with the vehicle found acceptable. GLV-7 was deerected October 5 and formally accepted by the Air Force October 15. Stage I was airlifted to Cape Kennedy October 16, followed by stage II October 18. Both stages were placed in storage pending the launch of the Gemini VI mission.
Manned Spacecraft Center announced that Neil A. Armstrong would be command pilot and David R. Scott would be pilot for Gemini VIII. Backup crew would be Charles Conrad, Jr., and Richard F. Gordon, Jr. Gemini VIII would include practice on rendezvous and docking maneuvers and a space walk that could last as long as one Earth orbit, about 95 minutes.
Korolev is charging ahead with the plan to fly Voskhod 3 for 20 days. Kamanin is doubtful - the life support system is rated for only 12-15 days, and testing to certify it for 25 days cannot be done in time. Korolev is also planning for a 15 November launch (to fly before Gemini 7). Kamanin believes instead a series of three flights should be flown - first to 12-15 days, then to 20 days, then to 25 days. It is essential the military experiments are flown on these flights. Yegorov and Anokhin have been sent to negotiate a protocol to be signed by Kamanin that he will prepare a crew consisting of a spacecraft commander and scientist-astronaut for a 20 day flight in time to support a 15 November launch. Kamanin refuses to sign the document - it is absurd and impossible.
Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 8 was erected in the west cell of the vertical test facility at Martin-Baltimore. Power was applied to the vehicle October 13, following the deerection of GLV-7. Subsystems Functional Verification Tests of GLV-8 were completed November 4.
Crew Systems Division (CSD) established vibration limits for the crew of the LEM. This action followed the final LEM vibration test with human subjects at Wright-Patterson AFB and a review of the test program by CSD and Grumman engineers.
Also, in what CSD described as "the start of a long range program for familiarizing Apollo suit technicians with field and launch operations," the Division reported that it had sent an Apollo suit technician to Cape Kennedy to take part in the forthcoming Gemini VI mission.
Industrial area activities, including pyrotechnics buildup, fuel cell installation, and modification of the water management system, were completed October 29. The spacecraft was moved to complex 19 and hoisted atop the launch vehicle. The Prespacecraft Mate Verification Test, including activation and deactivation of the fuel cell, was conducted November 1-5.
Kamanin notes the aborted first launch attempt of Gemini 6, but expects the Americans to achieve the first space docking, using the crew as pilots to fly the spacecraft. He curses Korolev and Keldysh for wasting three years trying to develop a fully automated system for Soyuz, which has put the Soviet Union well behind the Americans. He does not see any equivalent Soviet achievement until the end of 1966...
Gemini spacecraft No. 6 and the second stage of Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 6 were deerected and removed from complex 19. GLV-6 stage I was deerected the next day. The GLV was placed in storage at the Satellite Checkout Building under guard, in an environment controlled for temperature and humidity. Bonded storage maintained the integrity of previously conducted tests to reduce testing that would have to be repeated. Spacecraft No. 6 was stored in the Pyrotechnics Installation Building at the Merritt Island Launch Area.
The original Gemini VI mission had been canceled when its target vehicle failed catastrophically on October 25. In a memorandum to the President, NASA Administrator James E. Webb indicated the possibility that Gemini VI spacecraft and launch vehicle could be reerected shortly after the launch of Gemini VII. Since much of the prelaunch checkout of Gemini VI would not need repeating, it could be launched in time to rendezvous with Gemini VII (a mission scheduled for 14 days) if launching Gemini VII did not excessively damage the launch pad. NASA officials, spurred by suggestions from Walter F. Burke and John F. Yardley of McDonnell, began discussing the possibility of a dual mission immediately after the failure October 25, drawing on some six months of discussion and preliminary planning by NASA, Air Force, Martin, and McDonnell personnel for a rapid manned flight launch demonstration.
Power was applied to GLV-7 on October 31, and Subsystems Reverification Tests (SSRT) began immediately. SSRT ended November 9, and the Prespacecraft Mate Verification Test was performed November 10. This test now included dropping all umbilicals, eliminating the need for a Flight Configuration Mode Test (FCMT). No FCMT was performed on GLV-7 or any subsequent vehicle.
Martin-Baltimore received the propellant tanks for Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 11 from Martin-Denver, which had began fabricating them June 28. They were shipped by rail October 27. The GLV-11 stage II fuel tank was used in GLV-10, and the stage II fuel tank from GLV-12 was reassigned to GLV-11, arriving by air from Martin-Denver January 16, 1966. Aerojet-General delivered the engines for GLV-11 on December 14, 1965. Stage I tank splicing and engine installation was complete by March 31, stage II by April 5. Stage I horizontal tests ended April 12 and stage II, April 25.
Manned Spacecraft Center announced that Elliot M. See, Jr., had been selected as command pilot and Charles A. Bassett II as pilot for the Gemini IX mission. The backup crew would be Thomas P. Stafford, command pilot, and Eugene A. Cernan, pilot. The mission, scheduled for the third quarter of 1966, would last from two to three days and would include rendezvous and docking and extravehicular activity. Bassett would remain outside the spacecraft for at least one revolution and would wear the manned maneuvering unit backpack, a self-propelled hydrogen-peroxide system with gyro stabilization designed by the Air Force.
The Combined Systems Acceptance Test of Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 8 was conducted at Martin-Baltimore. The vehicle acceptance team convened November 16 and completed its inspection November 19, deeming the vehicle excellent. GLV-8 was deerected December 13-14 and was formally accepted by the Air Force on December 23. Stage I was airlifted to Cape Kennedy on January 4, 1966, followed by stage II on January 6. Both stages were placed in storage.
The stage I engine had been delivered August 23. Martin-Baltimore completed splicing stage I January 12, 1966; stage II splicing, using the fuel tank reassigned from GLV-11, was finished February 2. Engine installation was completed February 7, and stage I horizontal tests February 11. Stage II horizontal testing ended March 2.
The augmented target docking adapter (ATDA) would serve as an alternative to the Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV) if efforts to remedy the GATV problem responsible for the October 25 mission abort did not meet the date scheduled for launching Gemini VIII. Additional Details: here....
Gilruth requests concurrence of NASA Headquarters for doffing the G5C pressure suits during orbital flight in Gemini VII. Director Robert R. Gilruth, Manned Spacecraft Center, requested the concurrence of NASA Headquarters in plans for doffing the G5C pressure suits during orbital flight in Gemini VII. Both astronauts wanted to remove their suits after the second sleep period and don them only for transient dynamic conditions, specifically rendezvous and reentry. Additional Details: here....
Both stages of Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 6 were removed from storage and arrived at complex 19 two hours after the launch of Gemini VII. Spacecraft No. 6 was returned to complex 19 on December 5. Within 24 hours after the launch of Gemini VII, both stages of GLV-6 were erected, spacecraft and launch vehicle were mated, and power was applied. Subsystems Reverification Tests were completed December 8. The only major problem was a malfunction of the spacecraft computer memory. The computer was replaced and checked out December 7-8. The Simulated Flight Test, December 8-9, completed prelaunch tests. The launch, initially scheduled for December 13, was rescheduled for December 12.
An Air Force Titan II Gemini Launch Vehicle lifted Gemini 7 (GT-7) into orbit from Cape Canaveral. Astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell completed the 14-day mission, the longest U.S. space flight to date (330 hours, 35 minutes) and 206 revolutions, and were recovered on 18 December, 700 miles southwest of Bermuda. During their record flight, Borman and Lovell piloted GT-7 as the target vehicle for the first space rendezvous between manned spacecraft. Astronauts Walter Schirra and Thomas Stafford aboard Gemini 6 were launched on 15 December and completed the first space rendezvous with Gemini 7 the same day. Primary objectives of the mission were demonstrating manned orbital flight for approximately 14 days and evaluating the physiological effects of a long-duration flight on the crew. Among the secondary objectives were providing a rendezvous target for the Gemini VI-A spacecraft, stationkeeping with the second stage of the launch vehicle and with spacecraft No. 6, conducting 20 experiments, using lightweight pressure suits, and evaluating the spacecraft reentry guidance capability. All objectives were successfully achieved with the exception of two experiments lost because of equipment failure. Shortly after separation from the launch vehicle, the crew maneuvered the spacecraft to within 60 feet of the second stage and stationkept for about 15 minutes. The exercise was terminated by a separation maneuver, and the spacecraft was powered down in preparation for the 14-day mission. The crew performed five maneuvers during the course of the mission to increase orbital lifetime and place the spacecraft in proper orbit for rendezvous with spacecraft No. 6. Rendezvous was successfully accomplished during the 11th day in orbit, with spacecraft No. 7 serving as a passive target for spacecraft No. 6. About 45 hours into the mission, Lovell removed his pressure suit. He again donned his suit at 148 hours, while Borman removed his. Some 20 hours later Lovell again removed his suit, and both crewmen flew the remainder of the mission without suits, except for the rendezvous and reentry phases. With three exceptions, the spacecraft and its systems performed nominally throughout the entire mission. The delayed-time telemetry playback tape recorder malfunctioned about 201hours after liftoff, resulting in the loss of all delayed-time telemetry data for the remainder of the mission. Two fuel cell stacks showed excessive degradation late in the flight and were taken off the line; the remaining four stacks furnished adequate electrical power until reentry. Two attitude thrusters performed poorly after 283 hours in the mission. Retrofire occurred exactly on time, and reentry and landing were nominal. The spacecraft missed the planned landing point by only 10.3 km miles, touching down on December 18. The crew arrived at the prime recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Wasp, half an hour later. The spacecraft was recovered half an hour after the crew.
Far surpassing the Gemini 5 flight, Gemini 7 set a manned spaceflight endurance record that would endure for years. The incredibly boring mission, was made more uncomfortable by the extensive biosensors. This was somewhat offset by the soft spacesuits (used only once) and permission to spend most of the time in long johns. The monotony was broken just near the end by the rendezvous with Gemini 6.
Kamanin notes the Luna 8 mission, which will attempt the first soft landing on the moon the next day, and the launch of Gemini 7, which is to set a new space endurance record and make the first rendezvous in space. The Americans are clearly pulling well ahead of the Soviet Union, but Kamanin vows not to capitulate. He recaps the opposition of Malinovskiy, Smirnov, and Ustinov to manned spaceflight over the last five years. Korolev and Kamanin already wanted to build a second series of ten Vostok spacecraft in 1961, which could have been used to keep the lead in the race with America. Instead this was blocked year after year. The cosmonauts have been trained and ready for the fights aboard Vostok or Voskhod that would have kept the Soviet Union ahead in the space race; what has been lacking is the spacecraft to make the flights.
"Beethoven's 6th Symphony" ,"Les Sylphides" by Chopin,"Hungarian Rhapsody #2" by Lizst, and"Madame Butterfly" by Puccini. "La Boheme" by Puccini,"Symphony No. 3, the Reinich" by Schumann, music by the Fantastics,"Symphony No. 2" by Rachmaninoff,"The Lawrence of Arabia Overture", and"Water Music" by Handel.
Kamanin meets with an engineering delegation from Kuibyshev. They are seeking a close relationship with the cosmonaut cadre in development of the military reconnaissance version of Soyuz, which they are charged with developing. They have already been working with the IAKM for over a year in establishing he basic requirements. Kamanin finds this refreshing after the arms-length relationship with Korolev's bureau. Meanwhile Gemini 7 orbits above, and there is not the slightest word on the schedule for Volynov-Gorbatko's Voskhod 3 flight, which would surpass the new American record.
"High Hopes" - Later: Classical music chosen for the crew included:"The Last Two Movements From Symphony Five from The New World" presumably by Dvorak,"Perpetual Motion Opus Number 257" by Johann Strauss, and"Air on the G String" by Johann Sebastian Bach performed by the Philadelphia orchestra.
Gemini launch vehicle 9 was erected in the east cell of the vertical test facility at Martin-Baltimore. Power was applied to the launch vehicle for the first time on December 22, and Subsystems Functional Verification Tests were completed January 20, 1966.
"What'd I Say" by Trini Lopez from"Trini Lopez at P.J.s" sent to crew, a favorite of Jim Lovell's. Later "I Saw Mommie Kissing Santa Claus" relayed from Tananarive station for Jim Lovell."A request from his daughter, Barbara, age 12 who hopes the song will bring her daddy home for Christmas, a little early"
The Titan 2 engines shut down a moment after ignition. The fault that caused the Titan to shut down saved the astronaut's lives; the quick thinking of the astronauts in not pulling the abort handles saved the mission. The scheduled launch of Gemini VI-A was aborted when the Master Operations Control Set automatically shut down the Gemini launch vehicle a second after engine ignition because an electrical umbilical connector separated prematurely. The launch was canceled at 9:54 a.m., e.s.t. Emergency procedures delayed raising the erector until 11:28, so the crew was not removed until 11:33 a.m. Launch was rescheduled for December 15. Routine analysis of the engine data, begun immediately after shutdown, revealed decaying thrust in one first stage engine subassembly before shutdown had been commanded. The problem was diagnosed as a restriction in the gas generator circuit of the subassembly, which would have caused shutdown about 1 second later than it actually occurred as a result of the umbilical disconnect. Source of the restriction proved to be a protective dust cap inadvertently left in place in the gas generator oxidizer injector inlet port. The anomalies were corrected and recycling, based on long-prepared contingency plans, proceeded without incident through launch on December 15.
The primary objective of the mission, crewed by command pilot Astronaut Walter M. Schirra, Jr., and pilot Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford, was to rendezvous with spacecraft No. 7. Among the secondary objectives were stationkeeping with spacecraft No. 7, evaluating spacecraft reentry guidance capability, testing the visibility of spacecraft No. 7 as a rendezvous target, and conducting three experiments. After the launch vehicle inserted the spacecraft into an 87 by 140 nautical mile orbit, the crew prepared for the maneuvers necessary to achieve rendezvous. Four maneuvers preceded the first radar contact between the two spacecraft. The first maneuver, a height adjustment, came an hour and a half after insertion, at first perigee; a phase adjustment at second apogee, a plane change, and another height adjustment at second perigee followed. The onboard radar was turned on 3 hours into the mission. The first radar lock-on indicated 246 miles between the two spacecraft. The coelliptic maneuver was performed at third apogee, 3 hours 47 minutes after launch. The terminal phase initiation maneuver was performed an hour and a half later. Two midcourse corrections preceded final braking maneuvers at 5 hours 50 minutes into the flight. Rendezvous was technically accomplished and stationkeeping began some 6 minutes later when the two spacecraft were about 120 feet apart and their relative motion had stopped. Stationkeeping maneuvers continued for three and a half orbits at distances from 1 to 300 feet. Spacecraft No. 6 then initiated a separation maneuver and withdrew to a range of about 30 miles. The only major malfunction in spacecraft No. 6 during the mission was the failure of the delayed-time telemetry tape recorder at 20 hours 55 minutes ground elapsed time, which resulted in the loss of all delayed-time telemetry data for the remainder of the mission, some 4 hours and 20 minutes. The flight ended with a nominal reentry and landing in the West Atlantic, just 10 km from the planned landing point, on December 16. The crew remained in the spacecraft, which was recovered an hour later by the prime recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Wasp.
Gemini 6 was to have been the first flight involving docking with an Agena target/propulsion stage. However the Agena blew up on the way to orbit, and the spacecraft was replaced by Gemini 7 in the launch order.
For lack of a target, NASA decided to have Gemini 6 rendezvous with Gemini 7. This would require a quick one week turnaround of the pad after launch, no problem with Russian equipment but a big accomplishment for the Americans. The first launch attempt was aborted; the Titan II ignited for a moment, then shut down and settled back down on its launch attachments. Schirra waited it out, did not pull the abort handles that would send the man catapulting out of the capsule on their notoriously unreliable ejection seats. The booster was safed; Schirra had saved the mission and the launch three days later went perfectly. The flight went on to achieve the first manned space rendezvous controlled entirely by the self-contained, on-board guidance, control, and navigation system. This system provided the crew of Gemini 6 with attitude, thrusting, and time information needed for them to control the spacecraft during the rendezvous. Under Schirra's typically precise command, the operation was so successful that the rendezvous was complete with fuel consumption only 5% above the planned value to reach 16 m separation from Gemini 7.
Gemini 7 has the space flight duration record, and Gemini 6 has achieved the first rendezvous in orbit. Yesterday Pashkov sent a letter to Smirnov, asking that new series of Voskhod spacecraft be ordered as insurance in case of further delays in development of the Soyuz spacecraft. Kamanin believes he sees panic setting in with the leadership. The next day Kamanin attempts to call Korolev, only to find he is out sick.
Gemini 6 splashed down near the aircraft carrier Wasp at 15:28 GMT. The capsule was lifted to the carrier deck with the crew aboard. When the hatch doors were opened, the spacemen gave the thumbs-up while the Navy band crashed in with 'Anchors Aweigh'. It was the first recovery carried live via satellite television.
Smirnov calls the Military Industrial Commission and the Chief Designers together to consider Pashkov's letter and how to respond to the American Gemini successes. Korolev is ill and unable to attend. His deputies are unable to provide any firm schedule for completion and fight of Voskhod or Soyuz spacecraft. Soviet projections are that over the next year the Americans will fly manned missions of 20 to 30 days duration and conduct many military experiments from manned spacecraft. It is decided that a crash effort needs to be applied to Soyuz development. However no further Voskhods will be built beyond the five already being assembled, but those Voskhods will be dedicated to setting record duration flights of 15 to 30 days and conducting military experiments.
Gemini 7 has landed. The Americans achieved every manned spaceflight objective they had set for themselves in 1965, and made 50% more launches than the Soviet Union. On the other side, the Russians have only been able to fly Voskhod 2. Korolev promised that three Voskhod and two Soyuz spacecraft would be completed in 1965, and that two of each would fly before November 7. The year has ended, and not a single spacecraft has been delivered. Kamanin calls Korolev, who says that the unfinished Voskhods will not be completed, and that the four completed spacecraft will be used for long-duration flights. All of his bureau's energies will be concentrated on developing Soyuz spacecraft to perfect space docking and to perform lunar flyby missions.
At the December Manned Space Flight Management Council meeting, Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller voiced a desire to have McDonnell examine the feasibility of using Gemini subsystems on an airlock experiment in conjunction with the Apollo Applications Program S-IVB Workshop concept. Accordingly, F. L. Williams of the Advanced Systems Office at MSFC solicited the assistance of MSC s Gemini Program Manager, Charles W. Mathews (since his office had procurement responsibility for Gemini), in getting McDonnell to conduct such an analysis. Williams stated that several designs needed investigation and that, of all Gemini hardware, the environmental control system and perhaps the fuel cells would be incorporated into the airlock design. In order to discuss technical details, he asked whether Mathews might arrange a briefing at Huntsville as soon as possible, since deadlines for presenting final experiment plans to Headquarters were most pressing.
An OMSF memorandum spelled out operational constraints for Apollo experimenters to prevent experiment-generated operational problems. The author, E. E. Christensen, investigated the area at the request of NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller and developed some general conclusions, based on experience gained in the Gemini experiments program.
Christensen said the following items should be considered:
Atlas 5302, target launch vehicle for Gemini VIII, was erected at complex 14. Air Force Space Systems Division and General Dynamics/Convair had begun intensive efforts to ensure the vehicle's flight readiness immediately after the Agena failure on October 25, 1965. Additional Details: here....
Kamanin reviews the American and Soviet space plans as known to him. In 1965 the Americans flew five manned Gemini missions, and the Soviets, a single Voskhod. In 1966, the Americans plan to accomplish the first space docking with Gemini 8, demonstrate a first-orbit rendezvous and docking with Gemini 10, demonstrate powered flight using a docked Agena booster stage with Gemini 11, and rendezvous with an enormous Pegasus satellite. Against this, the Soviets have no program, no flight schedule. Kamanin can only hope that during the year 2-3 Voskhod flights and 2-3 Soyuz flights may be conducted.
Fuel cell installation, heater resistance checks, and pyrotechnics buildup lasted two weeks. The spacecraft was then transferred to Merritt Island Launch Area for integrated (Plan X) test with the target vehicle, January 26-28, and extravehicular equipment compatibility test, January 29.
At a NASA-McDonnell Management Panel meeting, W. B. Evans of Gemini Program Office reviewed possible future mission activities. Gemini VIII would have three periods of extravehicular activity (EVA) - two in daylight, one in darkness - and would undock during EVA with the right hatch snubbed against the umbilical guide and the astronaut strapped into the adapter section. Additional Details: here....
Martin-Denver delivered propellant tanks for Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 12 to Martin-Baltimore by air. The GLV-12 stage II fuel tank had been reallocated to GLV-11, and GLV-12 used the stage II fuel tank originally assigned to GLV-10, which had been reworked to eliminate the damaged dome that had caused the tank reshuffling. Additional Details: here....
Qualification testing of the freon-14 extravehicular propulsion system for the Gemini VIII mission had been successfully completed. During earlier tests some freezing problems had resulted; however, with particular attention given to drying procedures used in loading the gas, the freezing problem was eliminated, and later tests were successful. Oxygen had been used for propulsion fuel during extravehicular activities by Astronaut Edward H. White II on Gemini IV.
Gemini spacecraft No. 8 was transferred to complex 19 and hoisted to its position atop the launch vehicle. Cables were connected for test February 1-2, and Prespacecraft Mate Verification Tests were conducted February 3-8. Fuel cells were activated February 8 and deactivated the following day. Spacecraft / launch vehicle integrated tests began February 10.
In response to a January 28 TWX from NASA Hq., MSC personnel made recommendations after evaluating the impact of a dual AS-207/208 flight on ground support and mission control. On February 2, John P. Mayer, Chief, Mission Planning and Analysis Division, told the Assistant Director for Flight Operations that the sole area of concern would be in providing the necessary Real Time Computer Complex readiness in a time frame consistent with the AS-207 launch schedule. Mayer also recommended that a decision be made in the very near future to commit AS-207 and AS-208 to a dual mission and that, if possible, IBM personnel knowledgeable in the Gemini dual vehicle system be diverted to the proposed mission if major modifications were not required for the Gemini XI and Gemini XII missions.
On February 4, John D. Hodge, Chief of the Flight Control Division, listed for the Technical Assistant for Apollo some problem areas that could arise in the operational aspects of the proposed mission with AS-207 carrying a manned CSM and AS-208 carrying only a LEM. Hodge recommended that the two launches not be attempted simultaneously, saying that some time between the launches should be determined, which would eliminate most of the problems anticipated.
Howard W. Tindall, Jr., Assistant Chief, Mission Planning and Analysis Division, in a memo documented some design criteria and philosophy on which the AS-207/208 rendezvous mission plan was being developed by the Rendezvous Analysis Branch. Tindall pointed out that, from the Gemini program experience, the plan was felt to be relatively firm. Tindall named some of the basic features recommended by the study:
The augmented target docking adapter (ATDA) arrived at Cape Kennedy. Modifications, testing, and troubleshooting were completed March 4. The ATDA, which was intended to back up the Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV), was then placed in storage (March 8) where it remained until May 17, when the failure of target launch vehicle 5303 prevented GATV 5004 from achieving orbit. The ATDA became the target for Gemini IX-A.
The Combined Systems Acceptance Test of Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 9 was successfully conducted in the vertical test facility at Martin-Baltimore. The vehicle acceptance team convened February 14 and concluded its review on February 17 by accepting the vehicle. Deerection of GLV-9 was completed February 25, and the vehicle was formally accepted by the Air Force March 8. Stage I arrived at Cape Kennedy on March 9, stage II on March 10.
While the launch vehicle was being cleaned up after the test, spacecraft No. 8 Final Systems Test was completed February 23. On February 25, GLV and spacecraft were temporarily mated for an erector-cycling test. The extravehicular support package and life support system were checked out and installed in the spacecraft between February 26 and March 5, while GLV systems were modified and revalidated February 28 to March 3.
The astronaut maneuvering unit (AMU) scheduled to be tested on the Gemini IX mission was delivered to Cape Kennedy. The receiving inspection revealed nitrogen leaks in the propulsion system and oxygen leaks in the oxygen supply system. Reworking these systems to eliminate the leakage was completed on March 11. Following systems tests, the AMU was installed in spacecraft No. 9 (March 14-18).
A successful Booster Flight Acceptance Composite Test (B-FACT) completed subsystems testing of target launch vehicle 5302. Component problems had delayed completion of some of the vehicle pad tests, including B-FACT, which had first been run on February 4. Difficulties were also encountered in completing the propellant tanking tests.
Stage I of Gemini launch vehicle 10 was erected in the east cell of the vertical test facility at Martin-Baltimore. After completing horizontal testing March 3, stage II was erected March 7. Power was applied to the vehicle for the first time on March 14. Subsystems Functional Verification Tests were completed April 13.
Gemini IX Astronauts Elliot M. See, Jr., and Charles A. Bassett II killed when their T-38 jet crashed. Gemini IX Astronauts Elliot M. See, Jr., and Charles A. Bassett II were killed when their T-38 jet training plane crashed in rain and fog short of the St. Louis Municipal Airport. The jet, which had been cleared for an instrument landing, was left of center in its approach to the runway when it turned toward the McDonnell complex, 1000 feet from the landing strip. It hit the roof of the building where spacecraft nos. 9 and 10 were being housed, bounced into an adjacent courtyard, and exploded. Several McDonnell employees were slightly injured. Minutes later the Gemini IX backup crew, Thomas P. Stafford and Eugene A. Cernan, landed safely. The four astronauts were en route to McDonnell for two weeks' training in the simulator. NASA Headquarters announced that Stafford and Cernan would fly the Gemini IX mission on schedule and appointed Alan B. Shepard, Jr., to head a seven-man investigating team.
Spacecraft fuel cells were installed March 3-4. Pyrotechnics buildup, further installations, and preparations for test lasted until March 18. The spacecraft was then transferred to Merritt Island Launch Area for Plan X integrated tests with the target vehicle and extravehicular systems March 22-24.
Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips, in a memo to the Director, Office of Advanced Research and Technology, NASA Hq., pointed out that in July 1965 the Apollo program encountered stress corrosion of titanium tanks from nitrogen tetroxide propellant. Additional Details: here....
The Atlas-Agena target vehicle for the Gemini VIII mission was successfully launched from KSC Launch Complex 14 at 10 a.m. EST March 16. The Gemini VIII spacecraft followed from Launch Complex 19 at 11:41 a.m., with command pilot Neil A. Armstrong and pilot David R. Scott aboard. The spacecraft and its target vehicle rendezvoused and docked, with docking confirmed 6 hours 33 minutes after the spacecraft was launched. This first successful docking with an Agena target vehicle was followed by a major space emergency. About 27 minutes later the spacecraft-Agena combination encountered unexpected roll and yaw motion. A stuck thruster on Gemini put the docked assembly into a wild high speed gyration. Near structural limits and blackout, Armstrong undocked, figuring the problem was in the Agena, which only made it worse. The problem arose again and when the yaw and roll rates became too high the crew shut the main Gemini reaction control system down and activated and used both rings of the reentry control system to reduce the spacecraft rates to zero. This used 75% of that system's fuel. Although the crew wanted to press on with the mission and Scott's planned space walk, ground control ordered an emergency splashdown in the western Pacific during the seventh revolution. The spacecraft landed at 10:23 p.m. EST March 16 and Armstrong and Scott were picked up by the destroyer U.S.S. Mason at 1:37 a.m. EST March 17. Although the flight was cut short by the incident, one of the primary objectives - rendezvous and docking (the first rendezvous of two spacecraft in orbital flight) - was accomplished.
Primary objectives of the scheduled three-day mission were to rendezvous and dock with the Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV) and to conduct extravehicular activities. Secondary objectives included rendezvous and docking during the fourth revolution, performing docked maneuvers using the GATV primary propulsion system, executing 10 experiments, conducting docking practice, performing a rerendezvous, evaluating the auxiliary tape memory unit, demonstrating controlled reentry, and parking the GATV in a 220-nautical mile circular orbit. The GATV was inserted into a nominal 161-nautical mile circular orbit, the spacecraft into a nominal 86 by 147-nautical mile elliptical orbit. During the six hours following insertion, the spacecraft completed nine maneuvers to rendezvous with the GATV. Rendezvous phase ended at 5 hours 58 minutes ground elapsed time, with the spacecraft 150 feet from the GATV and no relative motion between the two vehicles. Stationkeeping maneuvers preceded docking, which was accomplished at 6 hours 33 minutes ground elapsed time. A major problem developed 27 minutes after docking, when a spacecraft orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS) thruster malfunctioned. The crew undocked from the GATV and managed to bring the spacecraft under control by deactivating the OAMS and using the reentry control system (RCS) to reduce the spacecraft's rapid rotation. Premature use of the RCS, however, required the mission to be terminated early. The retrofire sequence was initiated in the seventh revolution, followed by nominal reentry and landing in a secondary recovery area in the western Pacific Ocean. The spacecraft touched down less than 10 km from the planned landing point. The recovery ship, the destroyer Leonard Mason, picked up both crew and spacecraft some three hours later. Early termination of the mission precluded achieving all mission objectives, but one primary objective - rendezvous and docking - was accomplished. Several secondary objectives were also achieved: rendezvous and docking during the fourth revolution, evaluating the auxiliary tape memory unit, demonstrating controlled reentry, and parking the GATV. Two experiments were partially performed.
The extravehicular life support system (ELSS) for Gemini spacecraft No. 9 was delivered to Cape Kennedy. Compatibility tests involving the ELSS, the astronaut maneuvering unit, and the spacecraft were completed March 24. The ELSS was returned to the contractor on April 6 for modification.
The prime crew would be command pilot Charles Conrad, Jr., and pilot Richard F. Gordon, Jr.; backup crew would be Neil A. Armstrong, command pilot, and William A. Andres, pilot. James A. Lovell, Jr., and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., backup crew for the Gemini X mission, were reassigned as backup crew for Gemini IX. Alan L. Bean and Clifton C. Williams, Jr., were named as the new backup crew for Gemini X.
The vehicle was inspected and umbilicals connected by March 28. Power was applied March 29, and the Subsystems Reverification Test (SSRT) began March 30. SSRT concluded April 11. The Prespacecraft Mate Verification Combined Systems Test was completed April 12.
Gemini spacecraft No. 9 was transferred to complex 19 and hoisted to its position atop the launch vehicle. During the next two days the spacecraft was cabled for testing, and premate verification began March 31, ending April 6. After activation and deactivation of the fuel cells, preparations for spacecraft/launch vehicle integrated tests began April 11.
NASA Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., said he had been reflecting on network coverage for Apollo, as a result of the Gemini VIII experience. He recognized that Apollo had more weight-carrying ability and stowage space than Gemini and that as a consequence live TV from the spacecraft might be a good possibility. This coverage could allow for extensive TV during travel to and from the moon as well as during lunar landing, disembarkation, and lunar exploration. The TV equipment would not be solely for news purposes but he felt "all manner of demands will be placed upon us for continuous live coverage." He requested a review at an early date as to
The Electrical Interface Integrated Validation and Joint Guidance and Control Test began after Gemini launch vehicle 9 and spacecraft No. 9 were electrically mated. These activities were completed April 15. The Joint Combined Systems Test was run April 19.
The Combined Systems Acceptance Test (CSAT) of Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 10 was conducted at Martin-Baltimore. The CSAT was followed by a performance data review, completed April 19. The vehicle acceptance team convened April 26 and accepted GLV-10 on April 29. The vehicle was deerected May 2-4 and formally accepted by the Air Force May 18. Stage I was flown to Cape Kennedy the same day, with stage II following May 20. Both stages were transferred to Hanger L where they were purged and pressurized with dry nitrogen and placed in controlled access storage.
Stage I of Gemini launch vehicle 11 was erected in the west cell of the vertical test facility at Martin-Baltimore. After completing horizontal tests April 25, stage II was erected April 29. Power was applied to the vehicle for the first time on May 9, and Subsystems Functional Verification Tests were completed June 8.
The extravehicular life support system (ELSS) for Gemini spacecraft No. 9 was returned to Cape Kennedy and underwent an electrical compatibility test with the astronaut maneuvering unit (AMU). An ELSS/AMU Joint Combined System Test was run the following day and rerun April 21. The ELSS was then delivered to Manned Spacecraft Center for tests (April 22) while the AMU was prepared for installation in the adapter. The ELSS was returned to the Cape April 26. AMU Final Systems Test and installation for flight were accomplished May 7. The ELSS was serviced and installed for flight May 16.
While the GLV was undergoing post-tanking cleanup, the spacecraft computer and extravehicular systems were retested (April 21-22), pyrotechnics were installed in the spacecraft (April 25), spacecraft final systems tests were run (April 27-28), spacecraft crew stowage was reviewed (April 29), and the astronaut maneuvering unit was reverified (April 30-May 2). Additional Details: here....
McDonnell delivered Gemini spacecraft No. 10 to Cape Kennedy. Installation of fuel cells was completed May 18, and that of the pyrotechnics, May 25. Preparations for Plan X testing were completed June 1, and the spacecraft was moved to Merritt Island Launch Area June 3.
Propellants were unloaded, and ordnance and pyrotechnics were removed from the launch vehicle and the spacecraft. Spacecraft and launch vehicle were demated May 18. Both were checked and serviced, then remated May 24 and subjected to Electrical Interface Integrated Validation. The Simulated Flight Test on May 26 completed retesting in preparation for launch on June 1. The mission was redesignated Gemini IX-A.
Elliot See and Charlie Bassett were the prime crew for Gemini 9. On February 28, 1966, they were flying in a NASA T-38 trainer to visit the McDonnell plant in St Louis, where their spacecraft was in assembly. See misjudged his landing approach, and in pulling up from the runway, hit Building 101 where the spacecraft was being assembled. Both astronauts were killed, and 14 persons on the ground were injured. As a result, the Gemini 9 backup crew became the prime crew, and all subsequent crew assignments were reshuffled. This ended up determining who would be the first man on the moon.
The first and only Atlas/Augmented Target Docking Adapter (ATDA) Gemini Agena (#5304) was launched from the Eastern Test Range as part of the Gemini 9 mission. The ATDA was a back-up for the Gemini Agena Target Vehicle (GATV) and similar to it except that it lacked the capability to maneuver in space. The ATDA achieved a near-circular orbit (apogee 161.5, perigee 158.5 nautical miles). One hour and 40 minutes later, the scheduled launch of Gemini IX-A was postponed by a ground equipment failure which prevented the transfer of updating information from Cape Kennedy mission control center to the spacecraft computer. The mission was recycled for launch on June 3, following a prepared 48-hour recycle plan. Anomalous telemetry indicated some sort of problem with the target, but it was not until Gemini IX rendezvoused with it in orbit that it was seen that fairing separation had failed.
At the first launch attempt, while the crew waited buttoned up in the spacecraft on the pad, their Agena docking target field blew up on the way to orbit. NASA decided to use an Atlas to launch an Agena docking collar only. This was called the Augmented Target Docking Adapter. Ths was successfully launched and the Gemini succeeded in rendezvousing with it. However, the ATDA shroud had not completely separated, thus making docking impossible. However three different types of rendezvous were tested with the ATDA. Cernan began his EVA, which was to include flight with a USAF MMU rocket pack but the Gemini suit could not handle heat load of the astronaut's exertions. Cernan's faceplate fogs up, forcing him to blindly grope back into the Gemini hatch after only two hours.
Seventh manned and third rendezvous mission of the Gemini program. Major objectives of the mission were to rendezvous and dock with the augmented target docking adapter (ATDA) and to conduct extravehicular activities (EVA). These objectives were only partially met. After successfully achieving rendezvous during the third revolution - a secondary objective - the crew discovered that the ATDA shroud had failed to separate, precluding docking - a primary objective - as well as docking practice - another secondary objective. The crew was able, however, to achieve other secondary objectives: an equi-period rendezvous, using onboard optical techniques and completed at 6 hours 36 minutes ground elapsed time; and a rendezvous from above, simulating the rendezvous of an Apollo command module with a lunar module in a lower orbit (completed at 21 hours 42 minutes ground elapsed time). Final separation maneuver was performed at 22 hours 59 minutes after liftoff. EVA was postponed because of crew fatigue, and the second day was given over to experiments. The hatch was opened for EVA at 49 hours 23 minutes ground elapsed time. EVA was successful, but one secondary objective - evaluation of the astronaut maneuvering unit (AMU) - was not achieved because Cernan's visor began fogging. The extravehicular life support system apparently became overloaded with moisture when Cernan had to work harder than anticipated to prepare the AMU for donning. Cernan reentered the spacecraft, and the hatch was closed at 51 hours 28 minutes into the flight. The rest of the third day was spent on experiments.
Following the third sleep period, the crew prepared for retrofire, which was initiated during the 45th revolution. The spacecraft landed at 13:59 GMTwithin 1.6 km of the primary recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Wasp. The crew remained with the spacecraft, which was hoisted aboard 53 minutes after landing.
The acceptance meeting for target launch vehicle (TLV) 5305 was held at General Dynamics/Convair in San Diego. TLV systems test had originally been completed March 25. During the next two months, TLV components were reworked to the latest flight configuration. Systems tests were then rerun, May 26-June 1, followed by composite test June 2-3. Following acceptance, the vehicle was shipped by air on June 9 to Cape Kennedy; this was the first TLV to be transported by air to the Cape, and it arrived the same day.
The vehicle acceptance team convened June 20 and accepted GLV-11 June 24. The vehicle was deerected June 29 and formally accepted by the Air Force on July 11. Stage I was delivered by air to Cape Kennedy the same day and stage II on July 13. Both stages were transferred to Hanger U where the tanks were purged and pressurized. The stages remained in controlled access storage until the launch pad was revalidated after the launch of Gemini X; revalidation was completed July 21.
Robert R. Gilruth of Manned Spacecraft Center announced that James A. Lovell, Jr., and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., would be the prime crew for the last Gemini flight, Gemini XII. During the Gemini IX-A postlaunch press conference with Astronauts Thomas P. Stafford and Eugene A. Cernan, Director Robert R. Gilruth of Manned Spacecraft Center announced that James A. Lovell, Jr., and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., would be the prime crew for the last Gemini flight, Gemini XII. The backup crew would be L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., and Eugene A. Cernan. The mission was scheduled for late October or early November.
During the post-tanking cleanup and systems testing of the GLV, spacecraft No. 10 hypergolics were serviced (June 27-28), spacecraft Final Systems Tests were conducted (June 28-July 1), crew stowage was evaluated, and the extravehicular life support system was checked (July 1). Additional Details: here....
The vehicle was disconnected from the test complex July 6 and formally accepted by the Air Force on July 13, two days ahead of schedule. Shipment of the vehicle to Eastern Test Range (ETR), planned for July 13, was delayed until July 14 by wind conditions. It arrived at ETR in the early morning of July 15.
MSC Director of Flight Crew Operations Donald K. Slayton and Director of Flight Operations Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., told ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea: "A comprehensive examination of the Apollo missions leading to the lunar landing indicates that there is a considerable discontinuity between missions AS-205 and AS-207/208". Additional Details: here....
An Air Force Titan Gemini Launch Vehicle placed the Gemini 10 (GT-10) spacecraft into orbit for the three-day mission of Astronauts John Young and Michael Collins. Rendezvous and docking were accomplished with the Gemini Agena Target Vehicle (GATV) that had been launched from Cape Kennedy aboard an Atlas Booster just ahead of GT-10. Using the GATV-10 Primary Propulsion System (PPS), the docked vehicles achieved a manned-flight altitude record of 476 miles. Reentry was accomplished on 21 July and recovery was made 544 miles east of Cape Canaveral. Exciting mission with successful docking with Agena, flight up to parking orbit where Gemini 8 Agena is stored. Collins space walks from Gemini to Agena to retrieve micrometeorite package left in space all those months. Loses grip first time, and tumbles head over heels at end of umbilical around Gemini. Package retrieved on second try.
The Gemini X mission began with the launch of the Gemini Atlas-Agena target vehicle from complex 14. The Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV) attained a near-circular, 162- by 157-nautical-mile orbit. Spacecraft No. 10 was inserted into a 145- by 86-nautical-mile elliptical orbit. Slant range between the two vehicles was very close to the nominal 1000 miles. Major objective of the mission was achieved during the fourth revolution when the spacecraft rendezvoused with the GATV at 5 hours 23 minutes ground elapsed time and docked with it about 30 minutes later. More spacecraft propellant was used to achieve rendezvous than had been predicted, imposing constraints on the remainder of the mission and requiring the development of an alternate flight plan. As a result, several experiments were not completed, and another secondary objective - docking practice - was not attempted. To conserve fuel and permit remaining objectives to be met, the spacecraft remained docked with the GATV for about 39 hours. During this period, a bending mode test was conducted to determine the dynamics of the docked vehicles, standup extravehicular activties (EVA) were conducted, and several experiments were performed. The GATV primary and secondary propulsion systems were used for six maneuvers to put the docked spacecraft into position for rendezvous with the Gemini VIII GATV as a passive target. The spacecraft undocked at 44 hours 40 minutes ground elapsed time, separated from the GATV, and used its own thrusters to complete the second rendezvous some three hours later. At 48 hours and 42 minutes into the flight, a 39-minute period of umbilical EVA began, which included the retrieval of a micrometorite collection package from the Gemini VIII Agena. The hatch was opened a third time about an hour later to jettison extraneous equipment before reentry. After about three hours of stationkeeping, the spacecraft separated from the GATV. At 51 hours 39 minutes ground elapsed time, the crew performed a true anomaly-adjust maneuver to minimize reentry dispersions resulting from the retrofire maneuver.
The retrofire maneuver was initiated at 70 hours 10 minutes after liftoff, during the 43rd revolution. The spacecraft landed at 21:06 GMT within sight of the prime recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Guadalcanal, some 5 km from the planned landing point on July 21.
Following the meeting with Mishin, Kamanin promises that the Voskhod 3 mission will be quickly revived and that the crews should refresh their training with the objective of a flight by 15 September. Kamanin notes the successful completion of the very ambitious Gemini 10 mission, which clearly shows the American intention to master space.
The vehicle acceptance team convened August 9 and accepted the vehicle August 12. GLV-12 was deerected August 17 and formally accepted by the Air Force August 30. Stage I was airlifted to Cape Kennedy the same day. Stage II arrived September 3. Both stages were placed in controlled access storage in Hanger T pending the launch of Gemini XI and the revalidation of the launch pad, completed September 16.
While GLV post-tanking operations were being performed, the Final Systems Tests of spacecraft No. 11 were conducted August 22-23. Spacecraft and GLV were mechanically mated August 24 and erector cycling was tested. The electrical interface was revalidated August 25-29. The Simultaneous Launch Demonstration on August 31 and the Simulated Flight Test on September 1 completed prelaunch testing.
In a letter to the President of Westinghouse Electric Corp., George M. Low, Acting Director of MSC, expressed his concern about the lunar television camera program. Low pointed out that Westinghouse had been awarded the contract by MSC in October 1964, that delivery of the cameras was to be made over a 15-month period, and that the total value of the original cost-plus-fixed-fee contract was $2,296,249 including a fee of $150,300. The cost reports required by the contract (at the time of Low's letter) showed that Westinghouse estimated the cost to complete at $7,927,000 and estimated the hardware delivery date as January 31, 1967. Low pointed out that the proposal letter from Westinghouse in May 1964 stated that "the Aerospace Division considers the Lunar Television Camera to represent a goal culminating years of concentrated effort directed toward definition, design, and verification of critical elements of this most important program. Accordingly, the management assures NASA Manned Spacecraft Center that the program will be executed with nothing less than top priority application of all personnel, facilities, and management resources." Low said that despite these assurances the overrun and schedule slippages indicated a lack of adequate program management at all levels and a general lack of initiative in taking corrective actions to solve problems encountered.
Westinghouse replied to Low on September 1 that it, too, was disappointed "when technology will not permit a research and development program such as this to be completed within its original cost and schedule objectives." The reply stated "Our people have taken every precaution - gone to the extreme, perhaps, in its impact on cost and schedule - to achieve the required mission reliability. . . ." The letter concluded by expressing pleasure in the harmony that had existed between Westinghouse and MSC personnel and by praising the performance of the Gemini rendezvous radar, holding it up as an objective for excellence of performance for the lunar television camera.
The scheduled launch of Gemini XI was postponed when a pinhole leak was discovered in the stage I oxidizer tank of the launch vehicle shortly after propellants had been loaded. The decision to repair the leak required rescheduling the launch for September 10. After propellants were unloaded, the leak was plugged with a sodium silicate solution and covered with an aluminium patch.
While Gemini 11 orbits above, the Soviet leadership argues about fundamental organisational details. Pashkov leads a meeting of the VPK, with Litvinov, Kerimov, Pravetskiy, Tregub, Tsarev, Bogdanov; Rudenko, and Moroz present. After prolonged debate, it is decided that Kiyasov, Kerimov and Kamanin will prepare a letter to the Central Committee. The TsPK Cosmonaut Training Centre will remain the only such centre in the country. However the VVS will agree to some modifications in existing selection and training arrangements. The Ministry of Public Health will be excluded from participation in selection and training of cosmonauts.
More highjinks with Conrad. First orbit docking with Agena, followed by boost up to record 800 km orbit, providing first manned views of earth as sphere. Tether attached by Gordon to Agena in spacewalk and after a lot of effort tethered spacecraft put into slow rotation, creating first artificial microgravity.
The primary objective of the Gemini XI mission was to rendezvous with the Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV) during the first revolution and dock. Five maneuvers completed the spacecraft/GATV rendezvous at 1 hour 25 minutes ground elapsed time, and the two vehicles docked nine minutes later. Secondary objectives included docking practice, extravehicular activity (EVA), 11 experiments, docked maneuvers, a tethered vehicle test, demonstrating automatic reentry, and parking the GATV. All objectives were achieved except one experiment - evaluation of the minimum reaction power tool - which was not performed because umbilical EVA was terminated prematurely. Umbilical EVA began at 24 hours 2 minutes ground elapsed time and ended 33 minutes later. Gordon became fatigued while attaching the tether from the GATV to the spacecraft docking bar. An hour later the hatch was opened to jettison equipment no longer required. At 40 hours 30 minutes after liftoff, the GATV primary propulsion system (PPS) was fired to raise the apogee of the docked vehicles to 741 nautical miles for two revolutions. The PPS was fired again, 3 hours 23 minutes later, to reduce apogee to 164 nautical miles. The crew then prepared for standup EVA, which began at 47 hours 7 minutes into the flight and lasted 2 hours 8 minutes. The spacecraft was then undocked to begin the tether evaluation. At 50 hours 13 minutes ground elapsed time, the crew initiated rotation. Initial oscillations damped out and the combination became very stable after about 20 minutes; the rotational rate was then increased. Again, initial oscillations gradually damped out and the combination stabilized. At about 53 hours into the mission, the crew released the tether, separated from the GATV, and maneuvered the spacecraft to an identical orbit with the target vehicle. A fuel cell stack failed at 54 hours 31 minutes, but the remaining five stacks shared the load and operated satisfactorily. A rerendezvous was accomplished at 66 hours 40 minutes ground elapsed time, and the crew then prepared for reentry.
The spacecraft landed at 13:59 GMT less than 5 km from the planned landing point at 71 hours 17 minutes after liftoff. The crew was retrieved by helicopter, and the spacecraft was brought aboard the prime recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Guam, about an hour after landing.
Gemini extravehicular activity difficulties cause redesigned forward dome hatch in the S-IVB hydrogen tank. Prompted by recent operational difficulties involving extravehicular activity during Gemini flights IXA, X, and XI, Deputy Project Manager Kenneth S. Kleinknecht recommended to Saturn/Apollo Applications Program officials in Washington a redesigned forward dome hatch in the S-IVB hydrogen tank; i.e., one that could be more readily removed. He urged installing a flexible type of airlock seal prior to launch of the stage. These changes, Kleinknecht said, would go far toward minimizing astronaut workload for activating the spent stage once in orbit.
The astronaut maneuvering unit (AMU), which had been installed in Gemini spacecraft No. 12 on September 17, was removed as the spacecraft was undergoing final preparations for movement to complex 19. NASA Headquarters deleted the AMU experiment from the extravehicular activities (EVA) planned for the Gemini XII mission. Additional Details: here....
While the GLV was being cleaned up after the tanking test, the Final Systems Test of spacecraft No. 12 was conducted October 17-19. Spacecraft and GLV were mechanically mated October 25 and the erector was cycled. The spacecraft guidance system was retested October 26-27, and the spacecraft/GLV electrical interface was revalidated October 28. The Simultaneous Launch Demonstration on November 1 and the Simulated Flight Test on November 2 completed prelaunch testing and checkout.
During the ascent to orbit, the Gemini capsule atop the MOL Cannister was ejected and made a suborbital reentry and splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean. The spacecraft was the Gemini 2 reentry module, reused to test reentry with hatch cut into the heat shield. The capsule was successfully recovered and it was found that the reentry actually melted hatch shut, indicating that the design was valid for MOL.
The scheduled launch of Gemini XII was postponed by a malfunctioning power supply in the launch vehicle secondary autopilot, discovered before the countdown for the November 9 launch began. The secondary autopilot package and the secondary stage I rate gyro package were replaced, and the mission was rescheduled for November 10. During tests of the replacement autopilot on November 9, another malfunction occurred, which was resolved by again replacing the secondary autopilot package. The launch was rescheduled for November 11.
Two very serious astronauts get it all right to end the program. Docked and redocked with Agena, demonstrating various Apollo scenarios including manual rendezvous and docking without assistance from ground control. Aldrin finally demonstrates ability to accomplish EVA without overloading suit by use of suitable restraints and careful movement.
Major objectives of the mission were to rendezvous and dock and to evaluate extravehicular activities (EVA). Among the secondary objectives were tethered vehicle evaluation, experiments, third revolution rendezvous and docking, automatic reentry demonstration, docked maneuvering for a high-apogee excursion, docking practice, systems tests, and Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV) parking. The high-apogee excursion was not attempted because an anomaly was noted in the GATV primary propulsion system during insertion, and parking was not attempted because the GATV's attitude control gas was depleted. All other objectives were achieved. Nine spacecraft maneuvers effected rendezvous with the GATV. The onboard radar malfunctioned before the terminal phase initiate maneuver, but the crew used onboard backup procedures to calculate the maneuvers. Rendezvous was achieved at 3 hours 46 minutes ground elapsed time, docking 28 minutes later. Two phasing maneuvers, using the GATV secondary propulsion system, were accomplished, but the primary propulsion system was not used. The first of two periods of standup EVA began at 19 hours 29 minutes into the flight and lasted for 2 hours 29 minutes. During a more than two-hour umbilical EVA which began at 42 hours 48 minutes, Aldrin attached a 100-foot tether from the GATV to the spacecraft docking bar. He spent part of the period at the spacecraft adapter, evaluating various restraint systems and performing various basic tasks. The second standup EVA lasted 55 minutes, ending at 67 hours 1 minute ground elapsed time. The tether evaluation began at 47 hours 23 minutes after liftoff, with the crew undocking from the GATV. The tether tended to remain slack, although the crew believed that the two vehicles did slowly attain gravity-gradient stabilization. The crew jettisoned the docking bar and released the tether at 51 hours 51 minutes. Several spacecraft systems suffered problems during the flight. Two fuel cell stacks failed and had to be shut down, while two others experienced significant loss of power. At 39 hours 30 minutes ground elapsed time, the crew reported that little or no thrust was available from two orbit attitude and maneuver thrusters.
Retrofire occurred 94 hours after liftoff. Reentry was automatically controlled. The spacecraft landed at 19:20 GMT less than 5 km from the planned landing point on November 15. The crew was picked up by helicopter and deposited 28 minutes later on the deck of the prime recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Wasp. The spacecraft was recovered 67 minutes after landing.
Space Systems Division's 6555th Aerospace Test Wing at Cape Canaveral was awarded the Air Force Association's Theodore von Karman trophy. This was for "its spectacular stride in advancing the nation's exploration of space and improving the national defense posture throughout 1966." The 6555th ATW had safely launched 10 Gemini missions carrying 20 astronauts and was responsible for all Air Force space booster and ballistic missile launches from Cape Canaveral.
McDonnell Douglas Corporation, under contract to MSC, submitted an eight-volume final report on a "Big G" study. Three features of the McDonnell Douglas 'Big G' study, performed under contract to MSC, are shown here. For additional information on the proposed system, see the 21 August 1969 entry. Graphics supplied by McDonnell Douglas. The study was performed to generate a preliminary definition of a logistic spacecraft derived from Gemini that would be used to resupply an orbiting space station. Land-landing at a preselected site and refurbishment and reuse were design requirements. Two baseline spacecraft were defined: a nine-man minimum modification version of the Gemini B called Min-Mod Big G and a 12-man advanced concept, having the same exterior geometry but with new, state-of-the-art subsystems, called Advanced Big G. Three launch vehicles-Saturn IB, Titan IIIM, and S-IC/S- IVB-were investigated for use with the spacecraft. The Saturn IB was discarded late in the study. The spacecraft consisted of a crew module designed by extending the Gemini B exterior cone to a 419-cm-diameter heat shield and a cargo propulsion module. Recovery of the crew module would be effected by means of a gliding parachute (parawing). The parametric analyses and point design of the parawing were accomplished by Northrop- Ventura Company under a subcontract, and the contents of their final report were incorporated into the document. The landing attenuation of the spacecraft would be accomplished by a skid landing gear extended from the bottom of the crew module, allowing the crew to land in an upright position. The propulsion functions of transfer, rendezvous, attitude control, and retrograde would be performed by a single liquid-propellant system, and launch escape would be provided by a large Apollo-type escape tower. In addition to the design analyses, operational support analyses and a program development plan were prepared. The summary report acknowledged the cooperation of NASA Centers and companies that provided technical assistance during the study. Principal contributors were MSC, MSFC, KSC, AC Electronics Division of General Motors Corporation, Bell Aerosystems Company, Collins Radio Company, IBM's Federal Systems Division, Kollsman Instrument Corporation, Amecom Division of Litton Systems, Inc., The Marquardt Corporation, Denver Division of Martin Marietta Corporation, Government Electronics Division of Motorola Corporation, Rocketdyne Division of North American Rockwell Corporation, Space Craft, Inc., Science and Technology Division of TRW Systems Group, and Hamilton Standard System Center of United Aircraft Corporation.