Gemini 4

Gemini 4 (GT -4 ) was a manned space flight within the U.S. Gemini program.


The first manned Gemini flight, Gemini 3, was not yet started when NASA announced on 27 July 1964, the crew of Gemini 4. The flight was scheduled for the first quarter of 1965.

As commander James McDivitt was nominated as a pilot Edward White. It was noteworthy that both came from the second astronaut selection group, so have not had experience in space. McDivitt had thus given preference over the Mercury veteran Walter Schirra and Gordon Cooper.

The backup crew with Frank Borman and Jim Lovell was from the second group.

When connecting speakers ( Capcom ) during the starting phase of Cape Kennedy served the astronaut Clifton Williams. Later, the Gemini -3 Commander Virgil Grissom took over from the new Flugleitzentrum in Houston, Texas, today's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.


In contrast to the relatively short flight of Gemini 3 Gemini 4 should take several days. In the course of the flight was to leave the ship for the first time an American astronaut. Therefore a new space suit was necessary. As a basis for developing a stay of 30 minutes was adopted in the universe.

During the preparation of the Gemini flight, the Soviet Union came to the Americans before. On March 18, 1965, the cosmonaut Alexei Leonov left his Voskhod 2 spacecraft, and was thus the first man who floated freely in space.

The Titan rocket for Gemini 4 was established on March 29, 1965 to the launch pad. The spacecraft was delivered on April 4 and mounted on 14 April at the top of the rocket.

Gemini 4 was the first flight, which was completely controlled by the new NASA control center in Houston.

History of the flight

The launch took place on 3 June 1965 and was first televised via satellite to Europe.

In orbit McDivitt tried to get closer to the Gemini spacecraft to the second stage of the Titan rocket, but this failed. As the tanks of Gemini 4 were smaller than those of the following spaceships had to dispense with further approach maneuvers.

The planned exit of White had to be postponed to a mission in orbit, because the preparations needed more time than planned, and White should rest again. As White four and a half hours after the start left the ship, he was connected to it by a safety line, in which also ran lines for oxygen and voice. White himself was able to move with a recoil gun. He enjoyed this tour and showed no signs of dizziness or disorientation. Overall, White was 23 minutes outside the spacecraft. Works were not provided in this first spacewalk.

On the fourth day of flying, problems occurred with the IBM - board computer, which finally completely failed. The computer should control the attitude control during re-entry, so that now had to be used on a rotational method. The target point was thus missed by about 80 kilometers. McDivitt and White were rescued by a helicopter and taken aboard the aircraft carrier USS Wasp. The astronauts were immediately examined medically. They were exhausted but otherwise in good physical condition.

Edward White during EVA

Importance for the Gemini program

This mission showed that the Gemini spacecraft was also suitable for longer flights. With a flight time of four days and two hours, it was still behind the four days and 23 hours back, the Valeri Bykowski had two years previously presented in Vostok 5, but longer flight durations were in principle possible and should be already proved with Gemini 5.

The spacewalk of White admittedly came a few months later than that of Leonov, but obviously with less problems.

Worth mentioning

The recoil gun used by Edward White should remain in space after the successful spacewalk, but White was able to bring the gun back on board and so remained this for posterity as an exhibit to this day. The capsule is on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.