The second U.S. manned space program was announced in January 1962.
Its two-man crew gave it its name, Gemini, for the third constellation of
Zodiac and its twin stars, Castor and Pollux. Gemini involved 12 flights,
including two unmanned flight tests of the equipment. Like Mercury's, its
major objectives were
* To subject man and
equipment to space flight
up to two
weeks in duration;
* To rendezvous and dock
with orbiting vehicles
maneuver the docked combination by
target vehicle's propulsion system;
* To perfect methods of
entering the atmosphere
at a preselected point on land.
were also met, with the exception
of a land
landing, which was cancelled in 1964.
SUMMARY & OBJECTIVES
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced December
7, 1961, a plan to extend the existing manned space flight program by
development of a two-man spacecraft. The program was officially
designated Gemini on January 3, 1962. It was named after the third
constellation of the zodiac, featuring the twin stars Castor and
Pollux. The program was operationally completed with the Gemini XII
The Gemini program was managed by the Manned Spacecraft Center,
Houston, Texas, under direction of the Office of Manned Space Flight,
NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C, 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.
The Manned Spacecraft Center Gemini effort was headed by Dr. Robert R.
Gilruth, director of the Center, and Charles W. Matthews, Gemini
The Gemini Program was conceived after it became evident to NASA
officials that an intermediate step was required between Project
Mercury and the Apollo Program. The major objectives assigned to
To subject two men and supporting equipment to long
duration flights -- a requirement for projected later
trips to the moon or deeper space.
To effect rendezvous and docking with other orbiting
vehicles, and to maneuver the docked vehicles in space,
using the propulsion system of the target vehicle for
To perfect methods of reentry and landing the spacecraft
at a pre-selected land-landing point.
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.
A brief summary of the Gemini flight results reveals how successful
the Gemini Program was. All of the major objectives were met as well
as many other objectives assigned to each mission, with the exception
of land landing which was canceled from the Gemini Program in 1964.
However, the precision control necessary to achieve the land landing
objective was demonstrated.
The spacecraft was an enlargement of the familiar Mercury capsule--5.8m (19
ft) long, 3m (10 ft) in diameter, and about 3810 kilograms (8400 pounds) in
weight. Engineering changes simplified maintenance and made it more
maneuverable for the pilots. The Titan II rocket, more powerful than the
Redstone, placed the larger spacecraft into orbit. Sometimes referred to as
Gemini-Titan for the craft and its launch vehicle, each flight was
designated by a Roman numeral. Only the first capsule was nicknamed; Command
Pilot Virgil Grissom called it the MOLLY BROWN in reference to his Mercury
spacecraft that sank.