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Gemini: Stepping Stone to the Moon


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#1    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 11:19 PM

Gemini: Stepping Stone to the Moon -- 40 Years Later

November 11 marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of Gemini XII, the final mission in the groundbreaking program that bridged the gap between Mercury and Apollo. When Jim Lovell and Buzz Aldrin landed 4 days later, NASA had learned valuable lessons about living and working in space that paved the way for the first trips to the moon.

On May 25, 1961, three weeks after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in space, President John F. Kennedy announced the goal of sending astronauts to the moon before the end of the decade.

IPB Image
Image above: Atlas Agena target vehicle lifts
off for Gemini 11 from Pad 14. Once the
Agena was in orbit, Gemini 11 rendezvoused
and docked with it.


To facilitate this goal, NASA expanded the existing manned space flight program in December 1961 to include the development of a two-man spacecraft. The program was officially designated Gemini on January 3, 1962.

The Gemini Program was a necessary intermediate step between Project Mercury and the Apollo Program, and had four objectives: 1) To subject astronauts to long duration flights- a requirement for projected later trips to the moon or deeper space; 2) to develop effective methods of rendezvous and docking with other orbiting vehicles, and to maneuver the docked vehicles in space; 3) to perfect methods of reentry and landing the spacecraft at a pre-selected land-landing point; 4) to gain additional information concerning the effects of weightlessness on crew members and to record the physiological reactions of crew members during long duration flights.

+ Project Gemini Overview
+ Chronology of U.S. Astronaut Missions (1961 - 1972)


Source: NASA - Missions

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#2    MID

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 12:55 AM

Amen to that, Waspie.


Gemini was indeed the "bridge" between Manned orbital flight in Mercury and the Lunar program.  

Apollo would never have happened without Gemini.  It was an amazing accomplishment, a program which placed the United States in a pre-emininent position in manned space flight, and taught us the lessons and techniques that would be necessary  for the Apollo program.

Most people don't realize that Gemini was as important as it was in relation to what followed.

Orbital plane changes, rendezvous and docking, orbital altitude adjustments,  long-term (i.e., two week) space flight, and EVA were all explored and mastered in project Gemini.  
All these things were necessary skills to master in order to go to the Moon.  


Gemini was the classroom for that stuff.  It's a good memory, and well worth celebrating!


#3    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 01:18 AM

Quote


Amen to that, Waspie.

I can't take credit for any of the sentiments in that post MID, it is posted here exactly as I found it on the NASA site.

Quote

  
Gemini was the classroom for that stuff.  It's a good memory, and well worth celebrating!


It can be argued that Gemini was the first true spacecraft. Certainly with Gemini the astronauts stopped being the "man in the can" and became true space pilots.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#4    MID

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 12:14 AM

Quote



It can be argued that Gemini was the first true spacecraft. Certainly with Gemini the astronauts stopped being the "man in the can" and became true space pilots.



I don't think there's much argument about it, Waspie, and I agree wholeheartedly.

I refer to Gemini as the "Apollo Classroom".  It indeed was just that, and astronauts most certainly became space pilots in that spacecraft!





#5    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 12:46 AM

Quote


I don't think there's much argument about it, Waspie, and I agree wholeheartedly.


The reason I say "it can be argued" is because I have seen the case put forward that the lunar module as the first and (until the Constellation programme gets going) only manned vehicle designed to fly solely in space was the first true spacecraft.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#6    MID

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 01:45 AM

Quote


The reason I say "it can be argued" is because I have seen the case put forward that the lunar module as the first and (until the Constellation programme gets going) only manned vehicle designed to fly solely in space was the first true spacecraft.



Oh, really?

Well, I suppose it could be argued as such.

The LM was the only manned spacecraft that was designed to operate solely in the vacuum of space.

I think it's a matter of semantics, actually.   While technically true, Mercury, Gemini, and the Apollo CM were also designed to operate in space, and as well, get someone back to Earth...which is a good thing considering the alternative!!!


They were indeed spacecraft, and aircraft, albeit very different and highly limited aircraft.  The Shuttle is a most certainly a spacecraft, and most definitely an aircraft as well.  


When you think about it, arguing that the LM was the first "pure' spacecraft is accurate, but, as will be the case with another yet-to-be-fabricated pure spacecraft (the new lander), that doesn't do us much good without a way to get back home.   The Apollo CSM and the CEV were and will be necessary in both cases.  

Without a way to get home, the pure spcecraft serves no purpose, eh?

Gemini was indeed the first pilotable spacecraft....a masterwork of Mr. Faget's brilliance, God bless him!


#7    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 04:09 PM

Gemini VI Views Gemini VII

IPB Image

Twenty-one years ago today on Dec. 4, 1965, NASA launched Gemini VII. With this mission, NASA successfully completed its first rendezvous of two spacecraft. This photograph, taken by Gemini VII crewmembers Frank Lovell and Frank Borman, shows Gemini VI in orbit 160 miles (257 km) above Earth. The main purpose of Gemini VI, crewed by astronauts Walter Schirra and Thomas Stafford, was the rendezvous with Gemini VII. The main purpose of Gemini VII, on the other hand, was studying the long-term effects of long-duration (up to 14 days) space flight on a two-man crew. The pair also carried out 20 experiments, including medical tests. Although the principal objectives of both missions differed, they were both carried out so that NASA could master the technical challenges of getting into and working in space.

Image credit: NASA

+ Full Resolution


Source: NASA - Multimedia - Image of the Day Gallery

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#8    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 04 June 2007 - 02:37 PM

Ed White: First American Spacewalker

linked-image

Top image: On June 3, 1965, Edward H. White II became the first American to step outside his spacecraft and let go, effectively setting himself adrift in the zero gravity of space. For 23 minutes White floated and maneuvered himself around the Gemini spacecraft while logging 6,500 miles during his orbital stroll. White was attached to the spacecraft by a 25 foot umbilical line and a 23 foot tether line, both wrapped in gold tape to form one cord. In his right hand, White carries a Hand Held Self Maneuvering Unit, which is used to move about the weightless environment of space. The visor of his helmet is gold plated to protect him from the unfiltered rays of the sun.

Bottom image: President Lyndon Johnson shows off photos of White during his historic spacewalk on the Gemini 4 flight. From left to right are: Robert Gilruth (background) Ed White, President Johnson, Robert Seamans, Jim McDivitt and James Webb.

Image credit: NASA

+ Top Image Full Resolution (2.48 Mb)

+ Bottom Image Full Resolution (2.87 Mb)

Source: NASA - Multimedia - Image of the Day Gallery

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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