Project Gemini

The Gemini program was after the Mercury program, the second manned space program of the United States. The goal of the Gemini program was the development of approaches and technologies for the Apollo program. Within this framework, in 1965 and 1966 ten manned space flights took place, in which astronauts conducted the first American spacewalks, among others.

  • 2.1 Gemini Spaceship
  • 2.2 serial numbers of the missiles
  • 2.3 Gemini space suit and Astronaut Maneuvering Unit (AMU )
  • 6.1 NASA mission reports
  • 6.2 General

The planning

Gemini was born out of necessity, and it was NASA's possible to make a virtue thereof. After setting the Mercury flights would, it was relatively clear early gape a time gap of three or even four years until the beginning of the Apollo missions - precious years that we desperately needed to provide the required technologies, eg Coupling mechanisms, life support system, EVA suits etc. to try. For this reason, it was originally planned, the existing Mercury system to a two- man -making spaceship called Mercury Mark II, to expand. The advantage would have is to save by recourse to existing technology development costs and to be able to bridge the time until the start of the Apollo manned flight program useful. The major changes would have existed in the installation of a second seat, the assembly of a powerful maneuvering and the use of an existing high school as a docking dummy. To simplify handling is also planning a modular interior that simplifies replacement or adding components and Mercury Mark would have made a powerful platform for manned space flights II.

Gemini is the Latin for the constellation Gemini, which the name refers to the two-seater spaceship and the rendezvous maneuver. In addition, the mythological twins Castor and Pollux are the gods of travelers. Officially, the program received its name on January 3, 1962 after he had been asked for proposals in December 1961. The name Gemini was proposed by two people.

The astronauts

In support of the already formed Mercury astronauts, NASA decided on 18 April 1962 to recruit five to ten new astronauts, after which 253 applications were received.

On September 17, 1962, the group 2, consisting of nine astronauts presented to the public. These were Neil Armstrong, Frank Borman, Charles Conrad, James Lovell, James McDivitt, Elliot Lake, Thomas Stafford, Edward White and John Young.

The selection of the third astronaut group began on June 5, 1963, a call for tender. NASA provided the 14 successful candidates on October 18, 1963 before: Edwin Aldrin, William Anders, Charles Bassett, Alan Bean, Eugene Cernan, Roger Chaffee, Michael Collins, Walter Cunningham, Donn Eisele, Theodore Freeman, Richard Gordon, Russell L. Schweickart, David Scott and Clifton Williams.

Thus, the number of active astronauts rose for the Gemini and Apollo programs to 27, as the Mercury astronauts Glenn, Carpenter and Slayton for various reasons were not available for the Gemini program.

Theodore Freeman died on October 31, 1964 in a plane crash. Elliot Lake and Charles Bassett, were provided as a crew for Gemini 9, arrived on February 28, 1966 also in a plane crash. Virgil Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee died on January 27, 1967 at the Apollo 1 disaster, Clifton Williams was killed on 5 October 1967.

Manned missions

Start of Gemini 6 was postponed until December, after the launch of Gemini 7. This flight also runs under the number 6 -A.

With the landing of Gemini 12 on 15 November 1966, the official closure of the Gemini office on February 1, 1967 ended the Gemini program.


Gemini Spaceship

The landing capsule of the Gemini spacecraft was 5.8 meters long and had a diameter of three meters. The hatches were opened and closed during the stay in space, so that activities outside of the spaceship were possible. A special coupling module was designed for docking. The mass of the landing capsule was approximately 3800 kg. For the first time a polymer electrolyte fuel cell was used as a primary energy supply in a spaceship. Non-rechargeable batteries were intended only for the re-entry and for emergencies. First time, an onboard computer, the Gemini digital computer to assist the crew was used in calculations. The computer had 5 boards with 510 modules a memory of only 4086 instruction words of each 39 bits in length. As this proved to be too small, it has been supplemented from Gemini 8 by a magnetic tape drive, which is sevenfold the storage capacity.

Serial numbers of the missiles

As the Mercury - Redstone and Mercury - Atlas rockets before them the Gemini - Titan missiles were ordered by NASA via the United States Air Force and were actually missiles that were intended for military use. The Air Force was responsible for the launch complex 19 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and prepared all Gemini - offs before and carried them out. Therefore, the first and second stages also contributed serial numbers of the U.S. Air Force. They were mounted on respective opposite sides of the lower end of the step. Since the missiles had been ordered in 1962, a serial number should actually follow the original 62- 12XXX. On the steps of the Titan II but was only 12XXX noted.

Gemini space suit and Astronaut Maneuvering Unit (AMU )

See Gemini space suit and astronaut Maneuvering Unit


After the Mercury Program, which is the theoretical possibility of manned space flights also demonstrated after the first successes of the Soviet Union, a major advance has been with Gemini achieved, also to test the maneuvers necessary for a successful flight to the moon: Rendezvous and coupling of spaceships, spacewalks, track changes, as well as the cooperation of the ground station with the pilot. Concepts that NASA had not been tested before so all in space.

Gemini was thus a highly successful program, which also proved that it was possible to control severe accidents as in the case of Gemini 8. It has laid a foundation for the Apollo moon missions. In 1967 there was but the beginning of the Apollo program, with the loss of three lives from Apollo 1 a serious setback. A similarly severe disaster occurred in the same year to the Soviet Soyuz program with Soyuz 1

The experiences of the Gemini program but have ultimately contributed to the first successful manned moon landing of Apollo 11.