Gemini Space Program Research Paper

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Gemini Space Program

The Gemini mission had as one of its goals a spacewalk by the astronauts and this was an important goal because this was a time known as the 'Cold War' and the Soviet Union, the second greatest power in the world had already had astronauts perform a spacewalk. The United States was running behind it seemed at the time. . Due to the brief nature of this study there are contributions that the Gemini space program made that have not been reviewed and it is therefore suggested that in order to better understand the contributions of the Gemini space program that a more in-depth study be conducted.

Gemini Space Program

The Gemini mission had as one of its goals a spacewalk by the astronauts and this was an important goal because this was a time known as the 'Cold War' and the Soviet Union, the second greatest power in the world had already had astronauts perform a spacewalk. The United States was running behind it seemed at the time.

Mission Summary

The Gemini space program was created specifically to teach astronauts the techniques that are involved in activities such as "…docking, rendezvous, long-term flight and space-walks." (Think Quest, nd) The Gemini program uses a two-person aircraft and it is from this that the space program derived its name after the sign of the zodiac that represents 'the twins' or Gemini.

Gemini 1 & 2

The first two Gemini craft are reported to have been unmanned satellites and the first manned mission under the Gemini program was the Gemini 3, which carried two astronauts and was launched from Cape Canaveral on the 23rd day of March, 1965.This mission was the first ever to change the orbit direction. (Think Quest, nd, paraphrased)

Gemini 3

The primary objectives of Gemini 3 were to 1) demonstrate manned orbital flight; 2) evaluate the two-man design, 3) demonstrate and evaluate the tracking network, 4) demonstrate the Orbital Attitude and Maneuvering System (OAMS) capability in orbital maneuvers and in retrofire backup, 5) demonstrate controlled reentry and landing, 6) evaluate major spacecraft subsystems, 7) demonstrate systems checkout, prelaunch, and launch procedures, 8) demonstrate and evaluate recovery procedures and systems. This was primarily a testing shakedown for the new, maneuverable Gemini capsule." (NASA, 2000) The secondary objectives were stated as follows: (1) to evaluate flight crew equipment, biomedical instrumentation, and personal hygiene system, 2) to perform 3 experiments, 3) to evaluate low-level longitudinal oscillations (Pogo) of the Gemini Launch Vehicle and 4) general photographic coverage in orbit." (NASA, 2000)

Gemini 4

The Gemini 4 spacecraft was launched on June 3, 1965 and was manned by Edward h. White and James A. McDivitt, The first ever space walk was performed by Edward H. White while this spacecraft was in orbit. On August 21, 1965, the Gemini 5 space craft was launched which was manned by Gordon Cooper and Charles Conrad. (NASA, 2000)

Gemini 5

The Gemini 5 mission was a "long-term, manned space flight" and was able to orbit for 190 hours and 55 minutes and this "despite a malfunction in the spacecraft's fuel cell system. (Think Quest, nd, paraphrased) The primary objectives of the Gemini spacecraft was to: (1) evaluate effects of prolonged space flight; (2) demonstrate performance of spacecraft and systems in 4-day flight; (3) evaluate procedures for crew and work cycles; (4) eating schedules; and (5) real-time flight planning. (NASA, ) Secondary objectives stated include: (1) demonstrate and evaluate EVA and control by use of HHMU and tether; (2) station keeping rendezvous with second stage of GLV; (3) evaluate spacecraft systems; (4) make in-and-out of plane maneuvers; (5) further test OAMS retro backup capability; and (6) perform 11 experiments. (NASA, 2000)

Gemini 6 & 7

Gemini 6, launched on December 15, 1965 was manned by Walter Schirra and Thomas Stafford, and Gemini 7 was manned by Frank Borman and James A. Lovell, and was actually launched prior to Gemini 6 by 12 days. The two craft are reported to have flown in formation, rotating slowly around each other and remaining that way for 3 entire orbits around the Earth. The two crafts came as close to 30 cm to one another at one point in the mission. Gemini 7 orbited the Earth 206 times and stayed aloft for a reported 330 hours and 35 minutes. This orbit set a new duration record for space flight. (Think Quest, nd, paraphrased)

Gemini 8 & 9

Gemini 8 is reported to have launched on the 16th of March 1996, and was manned by Neil A. Armstrong and David R. Scott. Gemini 8 completed the first ever successful docking with the Agena 8 satellite however, upon docking the two spacecraft begin spinning since one of the thrusters on the Gemini 8 would not stop jetting. Gemini 8 had to make an emergency landing in the Pacific Ocean. (Think Quest, nd, paraphrased)

Gemini 9 is reported to have launched on June 3, 1966, and to be manned by Thomas P. Stafford and Eugene A. Cernan and was in flight for a period of 72 hours and 21 minutes. Eugene Cernan was the second U.S. astronaut to perform a space walked and involved the use of an Astronaut Maneuvering Unit (AMU) although it was used only a short time due to problems with the AMU. (Think Quest, nd, paraphrased)

Gemini 10 & 11

Gemini 10 was launched on July 18, 1966 and was manned by John Young and Michael Collins. This mission performed the first 'double-rendezvous' ever performed in space. Young docked successfully with the upper stages of two Atlas-Agena rockets, which were in orbit around the earth, and Collins performed a spacewalk during this mission experiencing the same problems with the AMU as had been experienced by Cernan. (Think Quest, nd, paraphrased)

Gemini 11 launched on the 12th day of September 1966 and was manned by Charles Conrad and Richard Gordon who were aloft for 71 hours and 17 minutes. The Gemini 11 mission involved rendezvous and docking with an Agena target vehicle as well as "extra-vehicular activity in order to confirm spacecraft and equipment performance in preparation for the Apollo lunar program already in progress." (Think Quest, nd, paraphrased)

According to the NASA report on the Gemini mission the second U.S. manned space program was first announced in January 1962. The major objectives of the Gemini mission were stated as follows: (1) To subject man and equipment to space flight up to two weeks in duration; (2) To rendezvous and dock with orbiting vehicles and to maneuver the docked combination by using the target vehicle's propulsion system; and (3) To perfect methods of entering the atmosphere and landing at a preselected point on land. Its goals were also met, with the exception of a land landing, which was cancelled in 1964. (Kennedy Space Center & NASA, 2000) The Gemini program was managed by the Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, Texas, under the direction of the Office of Manned Space Flight, NASA Headquarters, Manned Space Flight, served as acting director of the Gemini program.

Science or Aircraft Description

It was the goal of NASA for land man on the moon and a search for the methods that would accomplish this objective was conceptualized as either: (1) direct ascent; (2) earth orbit rendezvous; and (3) Lunar orbit rendezvous. (2000) In the beginning direct ascent appeared to be the simplest method that could be utilized with a launch vehicle boosting a spacecraft directly to the moon to land however, the booster would be required to be monstrous since the lunar spacecraft would be required to carry fuel for the landing and takeoff. This required that the Gemini program develop the rendezvous and docking techniques and that the new spacecraft would have its own propulsion system. The propulsion system was housed in an equipment module located at the rear of the spacecraft which was "the retro module" containing the solid rockets used to slow the craft for reentry. Orbital altitude maneuvering jets (OAMS) were contained in the craft's fuselage." (NASA, 2000 ) The following illustration shows a cutaway view of the Gemini spacecraft.

Figure 1

Cutaway View of the Gemini Spacecraft

Source: Adcock (2010)

There were little complications as the new spacecraft for the Gemini program was designed however engineers did debate several issues: (1) the recovery system; (2) NASA desired to land on land rather than water and an engineer named Francis Rogallo at Langley Research Center developed a "flexible wing called a paraglider" relating that he as well as his colleagues "were convinced that this concept could return a spacecraft to a smooth land touchdown." (NASA, 2000) NASA was interested and Rogallo and his team were commissioned to develop the system. The following illustration shows the design of Rogallo and team.

Figure 2

Paraglider Gemini

Source: Adcock (2010)

It is reported that engineers were examining launch vehicles while the other designs were progressing however, the Atlas, which had been used for the Mercury would not be powerful enough for the Gemini…

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