Project Gemini Second Human Spaceflight Program of NASA Research Paper

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Gemini

Throughout history, the idea of modern space travel has captured the human imagination. This began when early astronomers first started looking up at the sky and wondered about the universe. By the 1950s, these ideas became more realistic with development of rockets. This set the stage for a space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. At the heart of these objectives, was to see which nation would be the first to walk on the moon. The Gemini project was critical in helping America to reach these goals. This is despite the short-term costs increases from $161 million to $242.70 million. What was learned during this process set the stage for the U.S. To go to the moon and beyond. Moreover, many of the breakthroughs helped to advance scientific understanding of the universe and the world. These ideas are still being utilized as a foundation for various disciplines to this very day. (Hacker, 1977)

Introduction

On May 25, 1961 President John F. Kennedy made a commitment that America would put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. This was in response to the United States' efforts to beat the Soviet Union in the space race. What happened, the Soviets were making considerable advancements in this technology with the launching of Sputnik in 1957. Then, on April 12, 1961; they sent the first human into space with Yuri Gagarin successfully orbiting the Earth for 108 minutes. ("Yuri Gagarin," 2011) ("Sputnik," 2007) (Shayler, 2001)

In response, America sent up Allan Shepard within less than one month. Despite the importance of the mission, it was viewed as something that was an attempt to catch up with the Soviet Union. They were much further along in their research and development of space technology. This raised concerns that the United States was falling behind the Soviets (which led to President Kennedy's proclamation). However, in spite of these ambitious goals, going to moon meant that there must be a concentrated effort in dealing with a number of challenges. To achieve these objectives required some kind of program that would conduct the necessary preparations to make this possible. As a result, the Gemini project was initiated from 1961 to 1966. Its primary purposes were to achieve a number of objectives to include:

Testing the endurance equipment and personnel for long space flights. This is because any trip to the moon entailed at least 8 days minimum travel. Yet, in reality these time frames were more realistically increased to two weeks.

To perfect rendezvous and docking techniques. This is from the mission requiring the space craft to dock with a separate vehicle and using its propulsion system to control both ships.

To conduct space walks outside of the vessel and perform different tasks.

To complete reentry and landing at specified geographic locations.

To increase the experience of astronauts working in a zero gravity environment, docking and rendezvous. (Shayler, 2001) ("Project Gemini," 2000)

These elements are showing how Gemini was an important step in helping to support and make the Apollo mission possible. To fully understand what happened, there will be a focus on the research questions, mission summary and providing a science / mission description. Together, these elements will highlight if this program was worth the time and money spent on achieving these objectives. (Shayler, 2001) ("Project Gemini," 2000)

Research Questions

To determine if the Gemini project was worthwhile requires studying different aspects of it. This means that there will be a focus on various research questions to include:

What are the long-term impacts of the Gemini?

Did it achieve its primary objectives?

Is it worth the costs?

How did it influence future missions?

These different elements will help to provide a better understanding of the events that occurred and the how it transformed the space program.

Mission summary

Like what stated previously, Gemini's overall objectives were to test and create practical ways of traveling to the moon. This meant that there were a series of twelve unmanned and manned missions. The most notable include:

Gemini I: This took place from the 8th to the 14th of April 1964. The main objectives were to test the durability of space craft. This was accomplished by determining GLV performance, the integrity of the vessel and the accuracy of ground guidance systems. This helped to provide scientists with insights about how the ship will handle in space and the possible issues with reentry. At the same time, it gave mission control the ability to practice monitoring and communicating with the ship. ("Gemini I," 2000)

Gemini II: This mission occurred on January 19, 1965. It primary goals were to test launch procedures, the backup guidance / control systems and to train flight controllers to effectively track the vessel. ("Gemini II," 2000)

Gemini III: This was the first manned mission that occurred on March 23, 1965. The objectives were to: evaluate the two person design, conduct orbital maneuvers / retro backfire and analyze subsystems. The combination of these factors provided information about how the ship handled in flight with two people flying it. ("Gemini 3," 2000)

Gemini IV: This was a four day mission that occurred from June 3rd to June 7th 1965. The primary goals were to monitor how the crew reacts to prolonged space flight. This meant examining their: work habits, eating and sleep cycles. What was learned provided greater knowledge of the effects of space on the human body. ("Gemini 4," 2000)

Gemini V: This mission lasted from August 21st to August 29th 1965. Its main objectives were to evaluate the effects of weightlessness (over an 8 day period), analyze the navigation / guidance systems upon reentry and the effects of close confinement in space on the vessel / crew. ("Gemini 5," 2000)

Gemini VII: This mission occurred from December 4th to December 18th 1965. The primary objectives were to see the impact of a 14 day period in space on the crew. ("Gemini VII," 2000)

Gemini VI-A: This mission lasted from December 15th to December 16th 1965. Its main goals were to rendezvous with Gemini VII and analyze how the two ships performed when they were connected to each other. ("Gemini VI-A," 2000)

Gemini VII: This mission took place from March 16th to March 17th 1966. The principle objectives were to dock with the Gemini Agena target vehicle. Then, conduct flight maneuvers with the two combined crafts. ("Gemini 8," 2000)

Gemini IX: This lasted from June 3rd to June 6th 1966. Its primary objectives were to perform rendezvous maneuvers and simulated docking with the Lunar Module. ("Gemini 9," 2000)

Gemini X: This mission occurred from July 18th 1966 to July 21st 1966. The main goals were to practice docking procedures with the Gemini Agena and use its propulsion system to fly both space craft. ("Gemini 10," 2000)

Gemini XI: This took place from September 12th to September 15th 1966. The principle objectives were to practice docking maneuvers with the Agena and to test automatic reentry procedures. ("Gemini 11," 2000)

Gemini XII: This mission occurred between November 11th and November 15th 1966. The primary goals were to conduct rendezvous and docking procedures with the Agena. ("Gemini 12," 2000)

The procedures that were tested throughout the program gave scientists and engineers the knowledge about those techniques must be utilized to successfully go to the moon. What was learned during this process ensured that the Apollo missions were possible. In the future, this helped to provide a basic background for modern space flight. (Shayler, 2001)

Science (or Mission) description

The Gemini capsule was placed inside a Titan II rocket. This was used to propel the ship into orbit through a series of stages. The way it worked is certain pieces of the Titan II would fall off during the flight. This created a secondary ignition that would push the craft further into orbit. The final stage was the release the Gemini into space. (Shayler, 2001)

The size of the vessel was 19 ft. long by 10ft. In diameter. It weighed a total of 8,400 lbs. The Gemini had a number of different systems (which helped to make it much more advanced than its predecessor the Mercury). The most notable include: an onboard computer, ejection seats, inflight radar and an artificial horizon. These elements helped the Gemini to be more maneuverable in conducting different operations (such as pitch and roles). This made it easier for the pilots to manage and control the spacecraft during flight.

At the same time, the Gemini had detachable electrical, life support and propulsion systems. This made it easier for astronauts to access from inside the spacecraft. The size of the ship seated no more than two crew members. This is similar to the dimensions for the front seat of a car. The appearance of the vessel was a cylindrical -- cone shape.

Its capabilities were the simplicity in replacing and repairing systems while inflight. It was very maneuverable and the various features helped the pilots to more effectively navigate…[continue]

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