NASA's Gemini Program was important for the contemporary accomplishments of the U.S. space program thoruhg its many contributions in the dawn of space travel. This work seeks to identify the significant benefits made by the Gemini program to NASA and the entire U.S. At large.
NASA reports that the second manned space program was named Gemini and was announced in January 1962. The project was named Gemini for the third constellation of the Zodiac with its twin stars Castor and Pollux. The Gemini project was inclusive of 12 flights, two of them unmanned and was a project with clear objectives including those as follows: (1) subjecting man and equipment to space flight up to two weeks in duration; (2) to conduct a rendezvous and dock with orbiting vehicles and to maneuver the docked combination by using the propulsion system of the target vehicle; (3) to perfect methods of atmosphere entrance and landing at a specific point on land. The goals of this project were met except for the goal of landing on land, which was cancelled in 1964.
I. Gemini Project
In December 1961, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration reported its plans to expand the manned space flight program in existence through development of a two-man spacecraft. The Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston Texas, managed the Gemini program under direction of the Office of Manned Space Flight, NASA Headquarters, and Washington DC. It is reported that Dr. George E. Mueller, Associate Administrator of NASA for Manned Space Flight, served as acting director of the Gemini program. William C. Schneider, Deputy Director of Manned Space Flight for Mission Operations, served as Mission Director on all Gemini flights beginning with Gemini V." (John F. Kennedy Space Center, 2000) The Manned Spacecraft Center Gemini project was headed by Dr. Robert R. Gilruth, director of the Center, and Charles W. Matthews, Gemini Program Manager." (John F. Kennedy Space Center, 2000)
II. Gemini Program: Building Capacity
It is clear to see that the Gemini program built upon its competencies that were developed as the project itself underwent progressive development evolving over time. For example in Appendix B containing examples of Gemini's various missions over the court of the program the base upon which the program was constructed included the development and demonstration of "GLV performance, flight qualify subsystems." Operational procedures were evaluated for GLV and ground guidance systems in addition to running verifications of orbital insertion by tracking C-bandtransponder in spacecraft and demonstrate performance of launch and tracking networks. Provision of training for flight controllers and prelaunch and launch crews and facilities." (John F. Kennedy Space Center, 2000)
III. The Gemini Spacecraft
The spacecraft for the Gemini project was similar to the Mercury capsule but was larger as well as having changes been simplified in terms of maintenance of the craft and making it easier to handle in space for the pilots. The Titan II rocket was characterized by possessing more power than the Redstone rocket and was able to place the Gemini aircraft into orbit.(, paraphrased) The spacecraft was many times called the 'Gemini-Titan with each flight assigned a roman numeral. Only the first of the capsules were assigned names and the first was called 'Molly Brown' by Command Pilot Virgil Grissom who was speaking of "his Mercury spacecraft that sank." (John F. Kennedy Space Center, 2000) Manned flights for the Gemini spacecraft included Gemini III, IV, V, VII, VI-A, and VIII all of which are described in Appendix 'A' of this study.
IV. The Missions
During Mission Gemini II the mission objective was demonstration of orbital flight and evaluation of a two-man design. The crew demonstrated and evaluated the tracking network as well as demonstrating OAMS capability in orbital maneuvers and retrofire backup. The crew was successful in demonstrating controlled reentry into the atmosphere and landing. The crew additionally evaluated major spacecraft subsystems and demonstrates the systems checkout, prelaunch, and launch procedures. Finally, the crew demonstrated and evaluated recovery procedures and systems.
The Gemini project involved the crew taking training to the limits preparing for whatever disaster might occur while they were in space. Included in their training was weightlessness maneuvers, parachuting as well as coping with going 5 miles per second while orbiting the earth in space up to 600 times in a mission.
During the Gemini III mission in March 1965, Grissom and Young became the first humans to fly Gemini. There were in fact many first for the Gemini missions in that Gemini VI is reported to have
"…marked the first time fuel cells were used to provide electrical power to a spacecraft, allowing an eight-day mission. Gemini 6 crewmembers Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford met up with Gemini 7 astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell and the two crews carried out the first space rendezvous. The Gemini 7 mission lasted a record two weeks. The first docking with another spacecraft -- an Agena rocket stage -- took place during Gemini 8. When a stuck capsule thruster caused the docked vehicles to begin spinning wildly, astronaut Neil Armstrong undocked and regained control of the capsule. Gemini 9 rendezvoused with an unmanned Augmented Target Docking Adapter, but docking was impossible due to the failed jettison of the adapter's docking shroud. The three-day mission featured a challenging two-hour spacewalk by astronaut Gene Cernan. NASA continued to accumulate extensive experience in rendezvous, docking, spacewalk and orbital maneuvering during the next two flights, Gemini 10 and Gemini 11." (John F. Kennedy Space Center, 2000)
The program was brought to a close with Gemini XII, a four-day mission that incidentally set a record when Buzz Aldrin spent more than five hours outside the spacecraft while the craft was docked to an Agena booster. It is reported that the Gemini missions provided the space agency with critical experience in "…real-time troubleshooting and advanced space operations -- knowledge that paved the way to the moon. The following picture shows White floating in zero gravity with the Hawaiian Islands in the background during the Gemini IV mission of 1965.
The Gemini crew and its program members worked in the dawn of the modern space age and its vehicles and capabilities. Many times, these individuals went into the spacecraft knowing that they would be breaking new horizons never before traveled by humankind with no one to advise them with certainly of how these various Gemini missions should, could, or actually would proceed. Success was not always assured and neither could success be ensured by the Space program in the United States because the technology was new, experimental and in the process of forming the framework upon which today's contemporary space program operates.
Paul Scott Anderson reported January 12th 2012 that NASA had recently released a gallery of restored 1960s project Gemini photos and among these was the following photo of White during one of Gemini's projects.
V. Gemini's Last Mission
The last of Gemini's mission, Project XII included crewmembers Lovell and Aldrin, with Cooper and Cernan as backup crewmembers in what was Gemini's last mission. Since that time NASA has witnessed many growths, expansions, successes, failures, victories, and defeats. Man has gone to space and man and woman alike have only experienced the rocket booster's climb as they met their death in a tragic launch of the shuttle during the 1980s. If not for the Gemini program today's Space Shuttle Program success would not exist. The space shuttle program begin with its launch on the 12th day of April 1981 and achieved greatly during the following 30 years of its missions. The spacecraft was the first reusable spacecraft and served to broaden the horizon of space for humankind. Thousands of individuals were employed in jobs related to development of the U.S. space program including civil servants and contractors throughout the entire United States.
Summary and Conclusion
Not only did the Gemini program allow man to stretch his limitations and break free of the constraints of the earth in exploration as well the Gemini program advanced information technology and bolstered the image of the United States on a global scale. The United States was strong, victorious, a trendsetter not only on earth but in space as well. Thousands were employed in lucrative careers and trades ensuring that the economy would grow and that jobs would be ensured for many decades and indeed that is the case.
The Gemini program set new records that gained not only the attention of the public but at the same time the successes of the Gemini mission served to gain the public's approval and support for the U.S. Space Program growth and so the rest is certain historical account of the greatness of the U.S. space program and the contributions made by all involved in the dawn of space exploration. Finally, the Gemini program set the standard for training, education and preparation of astronauts prior to their entering into real life applications and space which set a high standard of safety for NASA.