- Gemini 3
Infobox Space mission
mission_name = Gemini 3
spacecraft_name = The Molly Brown
insignia = Gemini3.jpg
insignia_size = 162px
sign = Molly Brown
crew_members = 2
launch_pad = LC-19 (CCAF)
March 23, 1965, 14:24:00 UTC
March 23, 1965, 19:16:31 UTC coord|22|26|N|70|51|W
duration = 04:52:31
orbits = 3
apogee = convert|224.2|km|nmi|lk=on
perigee = convert|161.2|km|nmi
period = 88.3 min.
inclination = 32.6°
distance = convert|128748|km|mi|lk=on
mass = convert|3236.9|kg|lb|lk=on
crew_photo = GPN-2000-001832.jpg
crew_caption = (L-R) Young, Grissom
Gemini 3 was a
1965manned space flight in NASA's Gemini program. It was the first manned Gemini flight, the seventh manned American flight and the 17th manned spaceflight of all time (includes X-15flights over 100 kilometers).
Number in parentheses indicates number of spaceflights by each individual prior to and including this mission.
Virgil I. Grissom(2) - Command Pilot
* John W. Young (1) - Pilot
Note: Originally the Gemini 3 crew would have consisted of
Alan Shepardas Command Pilot and Stafford as Pilot, but was changed when Shepard was grounded with an inner ear disorder in late 1964.
* First orbital maneuver by manned spacecraftOn
March 23, 1965at 15:57:00 UTC, at the end of the first orbit, over Corpus Christi, Texas, a 1 minute 14 second burn of the Orbit attitude and maneuvering system(OAMS) engines gave a delta-V of 15.5 meters per second. The orbit was changed from 161.2 km x 224.2 km, period 88.3 minutes to an orbit of 158 km x 169 km, period 87.8 minutes.
This first manned flight of the Gemini spacecraft was very much a test flight. In a playful reference to the Broadway hit
The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Grissom nicknamed the Gemini 3 spacecraft "Molly Brown," hoping that it would not duplicate his experience with Liberty Bell 7. It was the last Gemini to be named by an astronaut. All subsequent flights in the program were designated by a Roman numeral.
The mission's primary goal was to test the new, maneuverable Gemini spacecraft. In space, the crew fired thrusters to change the shape of their orbit, shift their orbital plane slightly, and drop to a lower altitude. Other firsts were achieved on Gemini 3: two people flew aboard an American spacecraft (the Soviet Union launched a three-man crew on
Voskhod 1in 1964, upstaging the two-man Gemini and three-man Apollo programs); the first manned re-entry where the spacecraft was able to produce lift to change its touchdown point.
The only major incident during the orbital phase involved a contraband
corned beefsandwich that Young had sneaked on board. The transcript of the crew's conversation during the episode reveals Grissom was unimpressed: (C=Commander Grissom, P=Pilot Young)
:01 52 26 C What is it? :01 52 27 P Corn beef sandwich. :01 52 28 C Where did that come from? :01 52 30 P I brought it with me. Let's see how it tastes. Smells, doesn't it? :01 52 41 C Yes, it's breaking up. I'm going to stick it in my pocket. :01 52 43 P Is it? :01 52 49 P It was a thought, anyway. :01 52 51 C Yep.:01 52 52 P Not a very good one. :01 52 52 C Pretty good, though, if it would just hold together. :01 53 13 P Want some chicken leg? :01 53 15 C No, you can handle that. http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/history/mission_trans/GT03_TEC.PDF]
The crew each took a few bites before the sandwich had to be restowed. The crumbs it released could have wreaked havoc with the craft's electronics, so the crew were reprimanded when they returned to Earth. Other crews were warned not to pull the same type of stunt again.
Eggs. A lever essential to the experiment broke off when pulled. The second involved the photographic coverage objective. It was only partially successful due to an improper lens setting on the 16 mm camera.
Early in the flight there was a minor problem with one of the Orbital maneuvering system thrusters:
:00 18 41 C I seem to have a leak. There must be a leak in one of the thrusters, because I get a continuous yaw left. :00 18 53 CC Roger. Understand that you get a continuous yaw left.:00 18 57 C Very slight. Very slow drift.This is of interest as a similar problem with a stuck thruster in
Gemini 8became much more significant, as Neil Armstrongtook some time to regain control of the spinning vehicle. In this mission the problem did not get out of hand, and the thruster was disabled.
The crew made their first
orbitchange an hour and a half into the flight. The burn lasted 75 seconds and moved them from a 122 by 175 kilometer orbit to a nearly circular one with a drop in speed of 15 metres per second. The second burn was 45 minutes later when the orbital inclination was changed by 0.02 degrees. The last burn came during the third orbit when the perigee was lowered to 72 kilometers. This meant that even if retrorockets had failed, they would still have reentered. When reentry finally occurred, crew commented that even the colours matched ground simulations.
On descent, the capsule shifted from a vertical to horizontal attitude under its
parachutes. The change was so sudden that Grissom cracked his faceplate (made of plexiglas) on the control panel in front of him. Later Gemini spacesuits and all Apollo and Space Shuttle (both the launch-entry and EVA suits) used polycarbonate plastic.
The craft landed eventually 84 kilometers short of its intended splashdown point.
Wind tunneltesting incorrectly predicted the craft's ability to compensate for course deviation. When the crew discovered the error, they decided to stay in the capsule, not wanting to open the hatch before the arrival of the recovery ship. The crew spent an uncomfortable half an hour in a spacecraft never designed to be a boat. Due to unexpected smoke from the thrusters the crew decided to deviate from the post landing checklist and to keep their helmets on with the face plates closed for some time after splashdown . The USS "Intrepid" recovered the craft and crew. The Gemini 3 mission was supported by the following United States Department of Defenseresources: 10,185 personnel, 126 aircraft and 27 ships.
The mission insignia was not worn by the flight crew as a patch, like those from Gemini 5 onwards. The Gemini 3 Molly Brown logo was designed and minted on gold plated, sterling silver, 1-inch (25-mm) medallions. The crew carried a number of these medallions into space to give to their families and friends. The same design was imprinted on the cover of Gus Grissom's book, GEMINI, and John Young was seen wearing the Molly Brown logo as a patch on his flightsuit as late as 1981.
The name "Molly Brown" was chosen by Grissom as a reference to the sinking of Liberty Bell 7; NASA officials found the slightly sarcastic reference embarrassing, and astronauts were not allowed to name their spacecraft again until
Apollo 9when for the first time, two spacecraft would be operating independently as part of the same mission.
The capsule is on display within the Grissom Memorial of
Spring Mill State Park, two miles east of Grissom's hometown of Mitchell, Indiana.
* On The Shoulders of Titans: A History of Project Gemini: [http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4203/cover.htm]
* Spaceflight Mission Patches: [http://www.genedorr.com/patches/Intro.html]
* Astronaut John W. Young website: [http://www.johnwyoung.com]
* Gemini 3 page on A Field Guide To American Spacecraft: [http://aesp.nasa.okstate.edu/fieldguide/pages/gemini/gt-3.html]
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