This Chronology belongs to a broad historical program undertaken by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to fulfill its statutory obligation to "provide for the widest practical and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof."(1) Project Gemini was the United States' second manned space flight program, a bridge between the pioneering achievement of Project Mercury and the yet-to-be realized lunar mission of Project Apollo. A history of Project Mercury has been written;(2) that of Project Apollo is still in the future.(3) This Chronology, a step in preparing the history of Project Gemini, marks the completion of the first phase of our study of the Gemini program and lays the foundation for the narrative history that will follow. What we have done must stand as an independent work in its own right. But at the same time, some of its characteristics- in particular, what it contains and what it omits- can be properly justified only in terms of the larger whole of which it is a part.

We have deliberately focused this Chronology very narrowly, excluding much material of undoubted relevance to the background of events, the context of decision, and to other matters that might be characterized as the external environment of Project Gemini. In part this is the inevitable result of a chronological format, which leaves little scope for explaining and interpreting events. Equally important, however, was our decision to reserve for the less restricted confines of a subsequent narrative history our confrontation with the subtle problems of interpretation and causation, of controversy and cooperation, of individual achievements and failures in the Gemini program. Several major features of this text grew directly from this decision.

Our orientation throughout has been primarily institutional. Organizations rather than individuals are ordinarily the actors in events as we describe them. The point of view embodied in most of the entries is that of Gemini Program Office (the Manned Spacecraft Center element created to carry through the Gemini program) and of major Gemini contractors. The events that we have been most concerned to elucidate are technological - the engineering and developmental work which transformed the concepts and objectives of the Gemini program from idea to reality.

The technological orientation of this Chronology has imposed some burdens on its authors. Like other works in the NASA Historical Series, the Gemini Chronology has been written for the informed, but not necessarily technically competent, layman. Its intended audience includes not only those professionally concerned with space programs, but also those with a more generalized interest in space activities. Accordingly, we have devoted special effort to explaining technical terms, supplementing the text with diagrams and photographs, describing test programs, and, in general, making Project Gemini comprehensible to readers who have no special knowledge of the events we discuss. This need not, we feel, impair the Chronology's value to the more technically sophisticated. Even within NASA and contractor organizations directly concerned with Project Gemini, few individuals could be familiar with every aspect of so large and complex an undertaking. We hope we have avoided the pitfall of belaboring what is obvious to the reader who knows the program while not explaining enough to the uninitiated.

Our attempt to achieve this goal has dictated, in part, that this Chronology be more than a mere list of dated events. Each entry is intended to be relatively independent and complete. One minor, though not insignificant, manifestation of this intent is that we have given all names, acronyms, and abbreviations in full upon their first appearance in every entry, with one exception: because its name is both ubiquitous and lengthy, we regularly refer to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as NASA. A more important consequence of our attempt to write individually intelligible entries is that we have often combined several events under a single date. In doing this, we could naturally follow no hard and fast rules; what was or was not to be included in a single entry became ultimately a matter of judgement. To enable the reader to follow these judgements, which at times must appear somewhat arbitrary, we have provided a comprehensive index of the text.

This Chronology is fully documented, with sources for each entry in the text cited immediately after the entry. Our greatest, though not exclusive, reliance has been on primary sources. Of these, perhaps the most widely useful have been the various recurring reports issued by both NASA and contractor organizations. Foremost among these are the Project Gemini Quarterly Status Reports,(4) the Manned Spacecraft Center weekly and monthly activity reports,(5) and contractor monthly progress reports.(6) Another extremely useful class of materials comprises nonrecurring reports and documents, such as working papers, technical reports, statements of work, mission reports and analyses, familiarization manuals, and final reports.(7) The third major body of sources consists of the records of various NASA organizations, particularly Gemini Program Office records. These include notes, minutes and abstracts of meetings, official correspondence, telegrams, memorandums, reading files, and the like.

While these three classes of material have provided our major sources, we have also drawn, when necessary, on a variety of other primary and secondary materials. Among those that deserve special mention are the press handbooks issued by several contractors,(8) NASA press releases and fact sheets,(9) the records of congressional hearings, and several other chronologies.(10) We have also had the benefit of personal interviews and conversations with a number of persons from government and industry who participated in Project Gemini. As part of its historical program, NASA is sponsoring an oral history project based on taped interviews with participants at all levels in American space programs.(11) In working on Project Gemini, we have so far conducted about 150 such interviews. Although some have been useful in preparing this Chronology, their larger role lies in providing material for the narrative history. Of much greater value for strictly chronological purposes have been the less formal conversations, often by telephone, we have had with persons who have helped us to clear up specific problems.

The present text is the second revised version, after critical comments from many persons both within and outside NASA, on the Chronology as a whole and within their areas of special competence. These comments have not only been invaluable to us in correcting and improving our text; they have also on occasion emerged as significant sources in their own right.(12)

The Chronology itself is divided into three parts, each centering on the activities during two calendar years.(13) The real history of Project Gemini began early in 1961 with efforts to improve the Mercury spacecraft. By the end of the year, the primary objectives of a new manned space flight program had been formulated, and Project Gemini (first designated the Mercury Mark II project) was formally initiated. During 1962, the process of designing the equipment to achieve the program's objectives was the major focus. The events of these two years, and a relatively small number of relevant events during 1959 and 1960, make up Part I, "Concept and Design." Part II of the Chronology spans the years 1963 and 1964, when the main task became translating Gemini designs into working machinery reliable enough for manned space flight. This phase of the Gemini program culminated in the two unmanned Gemini missions which preceded the manned flights.(14) The most visible portion of Project Gemini belongs to 1965 and 1966, dominated by the 10 manned missions which, to the public, constitute the Gemini program. Part III, "Flight Tests," chronicles the events of these two years, as well as some of the program's terminal events early in 1967. To round out this volune, we have included several appendixes, which summarize, tabulate, and otherwise make easily accessible some major aspects of Project Gemini.

The great number of persons who have contributed, in one way or another, to the preparation of this Chronology precludes our acknowledging their help individually. We can only offer our thanks for their help, without which the Gemini Chronology would have been distinctly poorer. For such shortcomings as it still suffers, its authors alone are responsible.



June 1968

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