Gemini 3

Gemini 3 (GT -3 ) was the first manned flight of a U.S. two-man spacecraft in the Gemini program.


During the year 1963 Deke Slayton, who was responsible for the team classification, Alan Shepard and Tom Stafford saw before as crew for the maiden flight of the Gemini spacecraft. The reserve team should consist of Gus Grissom and Frank Borman.

However, Shepard lost due to health reasons flight worthiness, and then the command passed to Grissom, new replacement commander was Walter Schirra. Also, Stafford lost his place in the main team. As the first astronaut of the second selection group John Young should now come to train. Stafford slipped into the backup crew, Borman was commander of Gemini 4 replacement

On April 13, 1964, NASA announced the team officially announced: Grissom and Young as the main team, Schirra and Stafford as a reserve.

Grissom continued the tradition to name the spaceship. In Memory of Liberty Bell 7, his Mercury spacecraft, the landing capsule sank in the Atlantic, he called the Gemini spacecraft Molly Brown, after the musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown. When NASA this kind of humor came not necessarily understand, but Grissom's alternative proposal Titanic was even less acceptable. This meant that the Molly Brown to Apollo 9 should be the last NASA space ship with its own name.

For this short flight sufficed two connecting speakers ( Capcom ) the bundled radio communications between spacecraft and Control: Gordon Cooper, who also already had Mercury experience, from Cape Canaveral and Roger Chaffee from the third group of astronauts from Houston.


Since the Gemini spacecraft was new, had the four astronauts who were selected for the mission, spend a lot of time in the simulator, first at McDonnell in St. Louis, and later in Cape Canaveral. Other exercises included jet flights, parachute jumps, as well as disembarking from the floating landing capsule.

The spacecraft was delivered on January 4, 1965 to Cape Canaveral, the Titan rocket on 23 January, after which the spacecraft was mounted on 17 February. Another month was used for tests on the complete system.

History of the flight

The launch of Gemini 3 was carried out in the morning March 23rd, 1965. Apart from the technical tests three scientific experiments should be carried out during the flight, but the move only partially.

A stir was caused a sandwich that Young had smuggled on board, to add it to reach Grissom, and its crumbs in zero gravity in the spaceship flew about.

In orbit several course corrections were made to check the function of the control nozzles. The first elliptical orbit was circularized and changed the orbital plane. At the last firing of these nozzles Gemini 3 was placed in a relatively low orbit, which should lead to a re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, even when the braking rockets should fail.


After three orbits, the braking rockets were fired. The splashdown on parachutes carried out in two phases, where the first landing capsule obliquely downward hanging with the nose up, then with the nose attached to the parachutes. In the transition from one layer to another, the two astronauts were thrown against the window. Young's helmet was scratched, Grissom's visor broke even.

Because the drag of the landing capsule had been misjudged, Gemini 3 splashed about 84 km from the calculated stop. A rescue helicopter took off from the USS Intrepid, took about 30 minutes to reach the landing site. Grissom and Young did not dare to open the hatch, had to divers pulled a rubber ring around the landing capsule, from worry, Molly Brown could fall just like the Liberty Bell.

Through the heat and rocking movements both astronauts were seasick.

The capsule is located in Spring Mill State Park, 3 km east of Grissom's hometown Michell, IN.

Importance for the Gemini program

The short test flight showed the basic reliability of the Titan rocket as well as the Gemini spacecraft and demonstrated the maneuverability in orbit. Except for minor mishaps in scientific experiments, all objectives have been achieved. Thus, the preparations were underway for the next Gemini missions without delay further.