Gemini: Stepping Stones to the Moonby James M. Grimwood, Barton C. Hacker, Peter J. Vorzimmer
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GEMINI was the intermediate manned space flight program between America's first steps into space with Mercury and the amazing and unprecedented accomplishments achieved during the manned lunar expeditions of Apollo. Because of its position between these two other efforts, Gemini is probably less remembered, but the Gemini provided the necessary stepping stones for Apollo to achieve a lunar landing.
Gemini accomplishments were numerous. They included many firsts: first astronaut-controlled maneuvering in space; first rendezvous in space of one spacecraft with another; first docking of one spacecraft with a propulsive stage and use of that stage to transfer man to high altitude; first traverse of man into the Earth's radiation belts; first extended manned flights of a week or more in duration; first extended stays of man outside his spacecraft; first controlled reentry and precision landing; and many more.
These achievements were significant in ways one cannot truly evaluate even today, but two things stand out: (1) it was the time when America caught up and surpassed the Soviet Union in manned space flight, and (2) these demonstrations of capability were an absolute prerequisite to the phenomenal Apollo accomplishments then yet to come.
Gemini was one of the early pioneering efforts in the developing space capability of this nation. The initiation of this program was timed to take advantage of the knowledge gained in our first series of manned space flights - Project Mercury. The Mercury program successfully demonstrated manned orbital flight. Perhaps more important it provided extensive information on how to build and fly spacecraft for the more complex missions yet to come. Drawing on this experience, the Gemini program was able to produce for its time a highly flexible space vehicle of considerable operational capability. These characteristics enabled a rapid expansion of American flight horizons.
The most significant achievements of Gemini involved precision maneuvering in orbit and a major extension of the duration of manned space flights. These included the first rendezvous in orbit of one spacecraft with another and the docking of two spacecraft together. The docking operation allowed the use of a large propulsion system to carry men to greater heights above Earth than had been previously possible, thereby enabling the astronauts to view and photograph Earth over extensive areas. Precision maneuvering was also employed during the very high speed reentry back to the surface of Earth, enabling accurate landings to be made. The length of our manned space flights was extended to as long as 14 days.
Of great general interest were the investigations of the operations of an astronaut outside the confines of his spacecraft, protected from the hard vacuum of space by his pressurized space suit. These extravehicular activities did in fact produce some difficulties, but, in the end, highly successful operations were conducted.
This book covers the Project Gemini Program from conception to completion. Over 320 pages and 140 photos and illustrations. Table of contents is hyperlinked for easy navigation.
Project Gemini Overview
Gemini Photo Album
PART I (A) - Concept and Design
April 1959 through December 1961
PART I (B) - Concept and Design
January 1962 through December 1962
PART II (A) - Development and Qualification
January 1963 through December 1963
PART II (B) - Development and Qualification
January 1964 through December 1964
PART III (A) - Flight Tests
January 1965 through December 1965
PART III (B) - Flight Tests
January 1966 through February 1967
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