Development and Qualification

January 1964 through December 1964

January 1

NASA Headquarters directed Gemini Project Office to take the radar and rendezvous evaluation pod out of Gemini-Titan (GT) missions 3 and 4. GT-4 would be a battery-powered long-duration flight. The pod would go on GT-5, and thus the first planned Agena flight would probably slip in the schedule.

January 9-10

Representatives of Crew Systems Division (CSD) and David Clark Company met to review the design of the G2C training and qualification pressure suit. Several components needed approval before being incorporated into the G3C flight suit configuration; CSD completed a statement of work for procuring the flight suits January 17; G3C suit procurement was expected to begin in March. Qualification and reliability tests of the G2C suit were also expected to begin in March.

January 13

Gemini spacecraft No. 2 began Spacecraft Systems Tests (SST) at McDonnell. Phase I of SST comprised module tests. Since spacecraft No. 1 had passed through SST, checkout had been radically altered. All test activity, including manufacturing after testing had begun on a module, was performed under the direction of a Launch Preparations Group (LPG) headed by the NASA-MSC Florida Operations Assistant Manager for Gemini. The group, which included both McDonnell and NASA operators and quality control personnel from Cape Kennedy, was temporarily located in St. Louis to review and approve test procedures and to perform the various tests on spacecraft Nos. 2 and 3. The St. Louis crew originally assigned to perform this function worked with the LPG through SST on these two spacecraft, then took over SST operations when spacecraft No. 4 entered SST. Primary purpose of the change was to improve scheduling by eliminating redundant testing. Once module testing was completed, modules would be permanently mated and only mated checks would be performed on the spacecraft though the remainder of SST and throughout its checkout at the Cape. Numerous problems encountered in the modular SST of spacecraft No. 2 required troubleshooting, equipment and structural changes, and retesting, delaying the beginning of Phase II mated SST until July.

January 15

Phase I of the program to develop a drogue stabilization parachute for the Gemini parachute recovery system began with a successful test drop of boilerplate spacecraft No. 5 at El Centro. Phase I was aimed at determining the effects of deploying the pilot chute by a lanyard attached to the drogue chute. The second drop test, on January 28, was also successful, but in the third test, on February 6, the cables connecting the drogue-and-pilot-chute combination to the rendezvous and recovery (R and R) section of the boilerplate failed during pilot-chute deployment. Although the main chute deployed adequately to achieve a normal boilerplate landing, the R and R section was badly damaged when it hit the ground. Testing was temporarily suspended while McDonnell analyzed the cause of the failure. Testing resumed on April 10 with the fourth drop test, and Phase I was successfully concluded on April 21 with the fifth and final drop. Boilerplate No. 5 then returned to McDonnell, where it was converted into static article No. 4A by September 18 for use in Phase III tests.

Firing test of GLV 1
Figure 66. Sequence Compatibility Firing of the two stages of Gemini launch vehicle 1 at pad 19, Jan. 21, 1964. (KSC Photo 64P-7, Jan. 21, 1964.)

January 20

Martin-Baltimore conducted a static test-to-failure of the spacecraft/launch vehicle interface structure. Test results demonstrated a very satisfactory minimum structural margin of 23 percent above ultimate conditions expected to be met in the transonic buffet conditions of launch. Plans were made to hold a structures meeting in Houston on March 17-19, 1964, for final review of all load conditions, stress distribution, and margins, in readiness for the Gemini-Titan 1 mission.

GLV to spacecraft interface
Figure 67. The interface between Gemini launch vehicle and spacecraft. (NASA Photo S-64-3065, undated.)

January 22

North American began deployment flights of the full-scale test vehicle for the Paraglider Landing System Program. The contract called for 20 tests to demonstrate deployment of the full-scale wing from the rendezvous and recovery can, followed by glide and radio-controlled maneuvering; each test was to be terminated by release of the wing and recovery by the emergency parachute system (which had been qualified on December 3, 1963). Twenty-five deployment flight tests were actually conducted. The first five flights (January 22, February 18, March 6, April 10, and April 22) achieved some success, but flight No. 6 (April 30) was the first to complete the entire sequence successfully. Flight No. 7 (May 28) was also successful. The next four flights (June 12, June 29, July 15, and July 23) again ran into trouble. A successful flight No. 12 (July 29) was followed by a series of problem flights (August 1, August 7, August 13, August 17, August 25, September 1, September 11, September 24, October 12, and October 16); the deployment sequence in these flights was generally satisfactory, but achieving a stable glide remained elusive. The last three flights (October 23, November 6, and December 1), however, successfully demonstrated the complete test sequence with no problems.

January 25

Rocketdyne tested an orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS) 100-pound thrust chamber assembly (TCA) to the 757-second mission duty cycle without failure. The TCA incorporated a modified injector which sprayed about 25 percent of the fuel down the wall of the chamber before burning, a technique known as boundary-layer cooling. With an oxidizer to fuel ratio of 1.2:1, the ablative material in the chamber was charred to a depth of only 0.5 inch. A second TCA, tested under the same conditions, charred to 0.55 inch. The flight-weight engine contained ablative material 1.03 inches thick, indicating that this engine configuration provided an ample margin for meeting mission requirements. These test results encouraged Gemini Project Office (GPO) to believe that boundary-layer cooling answered the problem of obtaining life requirements for the OAMS 100-pound TCAs. The same technique was also tried with the 25-pound TCA, but boundary-layer cooling was much less successful in the smaller engine; a modified rounded-edge, splash-plate injector yielded better results. This configuration was tested to the 570-second mission duty cycle using a mixture ratio of 0.7:1; at the end of the test, 0.18 inch uncharred material was left. Earlier TCAs using the same mixture ratio had failed after a maximum of 380 seconds. GPO now expected both 25- and 100-pound TCAs to be ready for installation in spacecraft 5 and up.

January 25

Gemini Project Office reported that Ames Research Center had conducted a visual reentry control simulator program to evaluate the feasibility of controlling the spacecraft attitude during reentry by using the horizon as the only visual reference. Simulation confirmed previous analytical studies and showed that the reentry attitude control, using the horizon view alone, was well within astronaut capabilities.

January (during the month)

The program plan for Gemini extravehicular operations was published. Objectives of the operations were to evaluate man's capabilities to perform useful tasks in a space environment, to employ extravehicular operations to augment the basic capability of the spacecraft, and to provide the capability to evaluate advanced extravehicular equipment in support of manned space flight and other national space programs. Flight Crew Operations Directorate had initiated flight activities planning based on a schedule calling for: on Gemini-Titan (GT) 4, depressurizing the cabin, opening the hatch, and standing up; on GT-5, performing complete egress and ingress maneuvers; on GT-6, egressing and proceeding to the interior of the equipment adapter and retrieving data packages; on GT-7 and GT-8, evaluating maneuvering capabilities along the spacecraft exterior by using tether and handholds; on GT-9, evaluating astronaut maneuvering unit; and on GT-10 through GT-12, evaluating other advanced extravehicular equipment and procedures. Crew Systems Division, responsible for ground test of extravehicular equipment, had initiated egress and ingress exercises in a simulated zero-gravity environment.

February 1

McDonnell began spacecraft pyrotechnic hatch firing tests, using boilerplate No. 3A, with a single-hatch firing test. The hatch opened and locked, but opening time was 350 milliseconds, 50 milliseconds over the allowable time. This test was followed, on February 10, by a dual-hatch firing test with satisfactory results. The boilerplate spacecraft was prepared for shipment to Weber Aircraft to be used in the qualification program of the ejection seat system.

Boilerplate 3A
Figure 68. Gemini boilerplate 3A in the production area at the McDonnell plant before being shipped to Weber Aircraft. (NASA Photo 1053, Feb. 18, 1964.)

February 2

Manufacture of the heatshield for spacecraft No. 3 was completed. This shield was the first production article with the full thickness of 1.0 inch; shields for spacecraft Nos. 1 and 2 were about half as thick.

February 3

A cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for $133,358 was awarded to the Garrett Corporation's AiResearch Manufacturing Division for the extravehicular pressurization and ventilation system. Initial phase of the contract was a study to define detailed systems configuration.

February 5

Gemini launch vehicle 2 stage I and interstage were erected in the vertical test facility at Martin-Baltimore. Stage II was erected February 7. Subsystems Functional Verification Tests began February 21.

February 5

Bell Aerosystems began Preliminary Flight Rating Tests (PFRT) of the Agena primary propulsion system (PPS). Tests were expected to be completed April 24 but were not actually concluded until late June. Testing proceeded with only minor problems through the first week of April. But in the following week PPS testing encountered what proved to be a six-week delay when the test unit's fuel and oxidizer start tanks failed. The two start tanks, stainless steel canisters with an internal bellows arrangement, supplied the propellants required to initiate the main engine start sequence. Visible longitudinal cracks in the outer shell allowed the gas which forced the propellants out of the tank to escape. Investigation revealed that the cracks had resulted from intergranular corrosion of the stainless steel tanks. The defective tanks were replaced by start tanks with a new heat-treated shell (delivered April 24), and PFRT resumed early in May.

February 7

Bernhard A. Hohmann of Aerospace expressed concern at a Gemini Management Panel meeting over spacecraft weight growth. His position was supported by Major General Ben I. Funk of Air Force Space Systems Division, who feared that mounting weight would squeeze out the Department of Defense experiments program. Funk wanted a detailed study made of the problem, with possible solutions to be discussed at a subsequent meeting of the panel. The growth of spacecraft weight was a persistent problem. At the management panel meeting of September 29, George M. Low, NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, pointed out that spacecraft No. 8 had increased an average of 35 pounds per month since early 1963.

February 8

Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) reported a decision to use MSC facilities to reduce and process data for postlaunch analysis. The center had investigated the possibility of using Lockheed facilities for this purpose, but the use of center facilities would save an estimated $300,000.

February 15

Gemini Project Office reported that the developmental test program for the Gemini spacecraft retrorockets had been essentially completed at Thiokol. Qualification tests for the retrorockets would begin in March 1964.

February 15

Manned Spacecraft Center's Flight Operations Division reported the completion of a series of simulated Gemini rendezvous missions to assess the adequacy and sequential usage of currently planned trajectory and real-time control displays.

February 16

Bell Aerosystems delivered the first Gemini Agena Model 8247 main engine to Lockheed. This engine was installed in the propulsion test vehicle assembly (PTVA), a unit to be used for a series of tests on the Agena primary and secondary propulsion systems at Lockheed's Santa Cruz Test Base. Bell delivered the two secondary propulsion system modules for the PTVA on March 6 and 14. Installation was completed and the PTVA delivered to Santa Cruz Test Base on March 26.

Agena secondary propulsion system
Figure 69. The Agena secondary propulsion system. (Lockheed, "Gemini Agena Target Vehicle Familiarization Handbook," LMSC A602521, Apr. 1, 1964, pp. 4-1, 4-3.)

February 17

Bell Aerosystems began Preliminary Flight Rating Tests (PFRT) of the Agena secondary propulsion system (SPS). After proceeding through the acceleration and vibration test phases of PFRT without incident, the SPS began calibration firings early in April. The failure of a propellant valve in Unit I (the 16-pound thrust chamber fired prior to starting the main engine in order to orient propellant) of the SPS imposed a minor delay, but a more serious problem emerged late in April during high-temperature firings. The wall of the Unit II 200-pound thrust chamber burned through near the injector face after an accumulated PFRT firing time of 354 seconds, below the specification limit of 400 seconds although well in excess of the maximum orbital useful time of 200 seconds. The thrust chamber was replaced and testing continued, but PFRT, originally scheduled to end June 19, was first slipped to July 8, and finally completed in mid-August. To resolve the burn-through problem, Bell began a test program in September to determine the cause of failure.

February 18-19

Gemini Program Office conducted the preflight readiness review of Gemini spacecraft No. 1 at Cape Kennedy. This review followed the completion of Spacecraft Systems Tests in the industrial area at the Cape on February 12. Each spacecraft system was reviewed for open items, deviations, qualification status. None of the several open items constrained the mating of the spacecraft to its launch vehicle, and none appeared to indicate a delay in launch. The spacecraft was transferred to complex 19 on March 3 and placed in the spacecraft erector support assembly in the erector white room. The premate Spacecraft Systems Test was successfully performed March 4.

February 20

George E. Mueller, NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, informed the staff of the Gemini Project Office (GPO) that all 12 Gemini flights would end in water landings, although Project Gemini Quarterly Report No. 8 for the period ending February 29, 1964, still listed the paraglider for the last three Gemini missions. At the GPO staff meeting of April 29, it was decided to reduce the level of activity on the paraglider program and begin to phase it out of the Gemini program. Representatives of NASA and North American met on May 4 and agreed to continue concentrating primarily on the flight test portion of the program. But paraglider was dead as far as Gemini was concerned. On June 12, Gemini Project Manager Charles W. Mathews notified the Gemini Procurement Office that GPO had deleted the requirement for a paraglider recovery system from the Gemini program and requested that the appropriate change in the McDonnell contract be expedited. The public announcement that the paraglider had definitely been canceled from the Gemini program came on August 10, 1964.

February 21

Gemini launch vehicle 1 Subsystem Functional Verification Tests (SSFVT) began on complex 19. These repeated the SSFVT performed at Martin-Baltimore in the vertical test facility. Their purpose was to verify the vehicle's readiness to begin systems tests. SSFVT were completed on March 3.

February 26

George M. Low, NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, informed Gemini Project Manager Charles W. Mathews of experiments approved for the first five Gemini missions. NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., had approved the recommendations of the Manned Space Flight Experiments Board, subject to completion of Gemini Project Office (GPO) feasibility studies. The approved list of experiments did not include experiments required to secure design information for Gemini and Apollo, which GPO was authorized to add as first priority items. All experiments were classified as Category B, which meant that experiments would not be included if inclusion would delay a scheduled launch.

February 28

Gemini Project Manager Charles W. Mathews informed Manned Spacecraft Center senior staff of efforts to control Gemini spacecraft weight and configuration more tightly. Mathews had assigned Lewis R. Fisher of his office to head a Systems Integration Office within Gemini Project Office to oversee these efforts by keeping very precise accounts of spacecraft weight, interface actions between the spacecraft and launch vehicle, and interface actions between the spacecraft and the Agena target vehicle.

February 29

Gemini Project Office reported the initiation of backup engine programs should current efforts to solve development problems with the orbit attitude and maneuver system thrusters be unsuccessful or additional requirements be imposed on the spacecraft. Marshall Space Flight Center was to develop a 100-pound engine, with possible application to the Saturn S-IVB launch vehicle as well as the Gemini spacecraft. Manned Spacecraft Center was developing a 25-pound radiation-cooled engine.

February 29

Gemini Project Office (GPO) reported the results of a test program to determine the possible effects of cracked throats or liners on the orbit attitude and maneuver system thrusters. Because of the manufacturing process, almost all thrust chamber assemblies (TCA) had such cracks and consequently could not be delivered. The tests showed no apparent degradation of engine life caused by cracks, and Rocketdyne claimed that no TCA in any of their five space engine programs had failed because of a cracked throat. With certain restrictions, cracked throats were to be accepted. GPO expected this problem to be reduced or eliminated in the new boundary-layer cooled TCAs, the throats of which had appeared in good condition after testing.

March 5

Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 1 and spacecraft No. 1 were mechanically mated at complex 19. Before GLV and spacecraft were electrically mated, the launch vehicle's status was reverified with a Combined Systems Test (CST) performed on March 10. A special series of Electronic-Electrical Interference (EEI) Tests began March 12 and ended March 25. Evaluation of test results confirmed that the intent of EEI testing had been accomplished, despite some persistent anomalies. A successful post-EEI systems reverification CST was performed March 27.

GT 1 pad test
Figure 70. Gemini-Titan 1 during Electronic-Electrical Interference Tests with the launch vehicle erector lowered. (NASA Photo No. 64-Gemini 1-44.)

March 6

Martin-Baltimore received the propellant tanks for Gemini launch vehicle 4 from Martin-Denver, which had begun fabricating them in November 1963. Tank splicing was completed July 21. Aerojet-General delivered the stage II flight engine June 26, the stage I engine July 28. Engine installation was completed September 4. Final horizontal tests were completed and reviewed October 26, with Martin authorized to erect the vehicle in the vertical test facility.

March 17-19

The structures panel met to review and clear up all open items concerning the structural integrity of the interface between the spacecraft adapter section and the launch vehicle upper skirt. An unexpected snag developed when an analysis by Aerospace indicated load factors about 10 times greater than McDonnell had predicted. Further analysis by McDonnell confirmed its original estimate.

March 19

The Air Force Systems Command weekly report (inaugurated in September 1963) summarizing actions taken to resolve Titan II development problems would no longer be issued. George E. Mueller, NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, informed Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., that the launch vehicle "no longer appears to be the pacing item in the Gemini program."

March 20

Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) approved Air Force Space Systems Division's (SSD) recommendations for a test program to increase confidence in 16 critical electronic and electrical components of the Gemini Agena target vehicle. The program included complete electromagnetic interference (EMI) testing of all components peculiar to the Gemini mission, as well as elevated stress tests and extended life tests. SSD had also recommended subsystem-level, as well as component-level, EMI testing, but this part of the program MSC disapproved. SSD directed Lockheed to proceed with the program on March 23. EMI tests were scheduled to be completed by July 1, stress and life tests by September 1, 1964.

March 25

At a meeting of the Gemini Project Office's Trajectories and Orbits Panel, members of Flight Operations Division described two mission plans currently under consideration for the first Agena rendezvous flight. One was based on the concept of tangential Agena and spacecraft orbits, as proposed by Howard W. Tindall, Jr., and James T. Rose when they were members of Space Task Group. The second plan, based on a proposal by Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., then of Air Force Space Systems Division, involved orbits which were concentric rather than tangential. The most significant advantage of the second plan was that it provided the greatest utilization of onboard backup techniques; that is, it was specifically designed to make optimum use of remaining onboard systems in the event of failure in the inertial guidance system platform, computer, or radar.

March 26

Boilerplate spacecraft No. 4 was subjected to its first drop from a test rig. The boilerplate achieved a horizontal velocity of 60 feet per second and a vertical velocity of about 40 feet per second at the time of impact with the water. The test was conducted to obtain data on landing accelerations for various speeds and attitudes of the spacecraft.

March 26

The propulsion test vehicle assembly (PTVA) arrived at Santa Cruz Test Base. It consisted of a basic Agena structure with propellant pressurization, feed-and-load system, the primary propulsion system (PPS), and two secondary propulsion system (SPS) modules attached to the aft rack. The test program called for loading operations and hot firings of both propulsion systems to establish the adequacy of PPS and SPS propellant loading systems and associated ground equipment, to demonstrate proper overall system operation, and to provide engineering data on systems operation and the resulting environment. Start of testing was delayed by the PPS start tank problems which showed up during Preliminary Flight Rating Tests at Bell Aerosystems during April. Lockheed returned the PTVA main engine start tanks to Bell, where they were inspected and found to be defective. New tanks were ready by mid-May, but additional minor problems delayed the initiation of hot-firing until June 16.

March 28

Gemini Project Office reported the results of the potability test of water from the fuel cells to be used on spacecraft No. 2. Although slightly acidic, the water was deemed suitable for drinking.

March 30

Director Robert R. Gilruth announced the reorganization of the Florida unit of the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC). Renamed MSC-Florida Operations, it would be headed by G. Merritt Preston, who had been in charge of MSC activities at the Cape since 1961. Responsibilities of the reorganized MSC-Florida Operations were similar to those performed and conducted during Project Mercury, with one major exception: Florida personnel would participate in spacecraft testing at McDonnell, thus eliminating the need for so much duplicate testing at the Cape by ensuring the delivery of a flight-ready spacecraft to the Cape.

March 31

Electrical and mechanical modification of Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 1 airborne components was completed. GLV-1 had been shipped to the Cape equipped with several items to be used only for ground tests. These were replaced with flight units, beginning January 31. The GLV-1 Wet Mock Simulated Launch, a complete countdown exercise including propellant loading, was successfully completed April 2. Testing concluded on April 5 with a Simulated Flight Test.

April 1

Astronauts visited St. Louis to conduct an operational evaluation of the translation and docking trainer. They noted minor discrepancies which McDonnell corrected. The company completed engineering evaluation tests on April 6. The trainer was then disassembled for shipment to Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston.

April 2

A 36-hour open-sea qualification test, using static article No. 5, began in Galveston Bay. The test ended after two hours when the test subjects became seasick. Among the technical problems encountered during this two-hour exposure were the failure of one of the suit ventilation fans and structural failure of the high-frequency whip antenna.

April 8

The first mission in the Gemini program, designated Gemini-Titan 1 (GT-1), was successfully launched from complex 19 at Cape Kennedy at 11:00 a.m., e.s.t. GT-1 was an unmanned mission using the first production Gemini spacecraft and launch vehicle (GLV). Its primary purpose was to verify the structural integrity of the GLV and spacecraft, as well as to demonstrate the GLV's ability to place the spacecraft into a prescribed Earth orbit. Mission plans did not include separation of the spacecraft from stage II of the GLV, and both were inserted into orbit as a unit six minutes after launch. The planned mission included only the first three orbits and ended about 4 hours and 50 minutes after liftoff with the third orbital pass over Cape Kennedy. No recovery was planned for this mission, but Goddard continued to track the spacecraft until it reentered the atmosphere on the 64th orbital pass over the southern Atlantic Ocean (April 12) and disintegrated. The flight qualified the GLV and its systems and the structure of the spacecraft.

April 9

The 33rd and last Titan II research and development flight was launched from Cape Kennedy. This Air Force conducted test program contributed significantly to the development of the Gemini launch vehicle; the Gemini malfunction detection system was tested on five flights, Gemini guidance components on three, and the longitudinal oscillation fix on four. In addition to flight testing these (and other) critical components, these flights also enhanced confidence in the use of the Titan II as a launch vehicle. Thirty-two Titan II test flights were analyzed to determine whether any characteristic of the flight would have demanded a Gemini abort; 22 were adjudged successful from the standpoint of a Gemini mission, nine would have required Gemini to abort, and one resulted in a prelaunch shutdown.

April 9

Phase II of the program to incorporate a drogue stabilization chute in the parachute recovery system began at El Centro. The purpose of Phase II was to develop the stabilization chute and determine its reefing parameters. The first test in the series, which used a weighted, instrumented, bomb-shaped parachute test vehicle (PTV), experienced several malfunctions culminating in the loss of all parachutes and the destruction of the PTV when it hit the ground. Subsequent analysis failed to isolate the precise cause of the malfunctions. No useful data were obtained from the second drop, on May 5, when an emergency drag chute inadvertently deployed and prevented the PTV from achieving proper test conditions. Subsequent tests, however, were largely successful, and Phase II ended on November 19 with the 15th drop in the PTV series. This completed developmental testing of the parachute recovery system drogue configuration; qualification tests began December 17.

Parachute test vehicle
Figure 71. Parachute test vehicle after drop test on July 16, 1964. (NASA Photo No. 64-H-2451, July 16, 1964.)

April 9

Structural qualification testing of the ballute stabilization system was completed in the wind tunnel at Arnold Engineering Development Center. Two subsonic and four supersonic runs at design conditions and two ultimate runs at 150 percent of design maximum dynamic pressure showed the four-foot ballute to be fully satisfactory as a stabilization device. Final qualification of the ballute was completed as part of a personnel parachute, high-altitude, drop test program which began in January 1965.

April 9

Members of the Flight Crew Support Division (FCSD) visited McDonnell to review and discuss Gemini cockpit stowage problems. To aid in determining stowage requirements, they carried with them a mock-up of the 16-millimeter camera window mount, the flight medical kit, defecation gloves, and the star chart and holder. FCSD felt that stowage might become critical during the fourth Gemini mission, mainly because of the large volume of camera equipment.

April 9

Arnold Engineering Development Center conducted a test program to determine the heat level on the base of the Gemini spacecraft during firing of the retrorockets under abort conditions from altitudes of 150,000 feet and up. Preliminary evaluation indicated that no base heating problem existed.

April 9-10

Crew Systems Division held a design review of Gemini food, water, and waste management systems. Production prototypes of the urine transport system, water dispenser, feeder bag, first day urine collection bag, and sampling device were reviewed. The urine transport system and water dispenser designs were approved. Remaining items were approved in concept but required further work.

April 13

Director Robert R. Gilruth, Manned Spacecraft Center, announced Astronauts Virgil I. Grissom and John W. Young as the prime crew for the first manned Gemini flight. Astronauts Walter M. Schirra, Jr., and Thomas P. Stafford would be the backup crew.

April 13

Air Force Space Systems Division (SSD) recommended a Gemini Agena launch on a nonrendezvous mission to improve confidence in target vehicle performance before undertaking a rendezvous mission. Gemini Project Office (GPO) rejected this plan, regarding it as impractical within current schedule, launch sequence, and cost restraints. GPO accepted, however, SSD's alternate recommendation that one target vehicle be designated a development test vehicle (DTV) to permit more extensive subsystems and systems testing, malfunction studies, and modifications at the Lockheed plant. Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV) 5001 was designated the DTV, but GPO insisted that it be maintained in flight status until the program office authorized its removal. All previously planned tests were still necessary to demonstrate satisfactory performance of GATV 5001 as a flight vehicle. GATV 5001 was the first Agena for the Gemini program.

April 14

Electrical-Electronic Interference Tests began on Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 2 in the vertical test facility at Martin-Baltimore. Oscillograph recorders monitored 20 GLV and aerospace ground equipment (AGE) circuits, five of which displayed anomalies. Two hydraulic switchover cicuits showed voltage transients exceeding failure criteria, but a special test fixed this anomaly in the AGE rather than the GLV.

April 15

After reviewing the results of Gemini-Titan (GT) 1, the Gemini Management Panel remained optimistic that manned flight could be accomplished in 1964. According to the work schedule, GT-2 could fly on August 24 and GT-3 on November 16, with comfortable allowances for four-week slips for each mission. Some special attention was devoted to GT-2, where the spacecraft had become the pacing item, a position held by the launch vehicle on GT-1. Spacecraft No. 2 systems tests had started one month late but were proceeding well. In addition, the schedule looked tight for starting spacecraft No. 3 systems tests on June 1.

April 22

The formal Combined Systems Acceptance Test (CSAT) of Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 2 was satisfactorily completed in the vertical test facility at Martin-Baltimore. Three preliminary CSATs (April 17-20) had been completed and all anomalies resolved. Three additional nonscheduled tests were conducted on GLV-2 before it was removed from the test facility. A Radio Frequency Susceptibility Test was required to demonstrate the ability of GLV-2 ordnance to withstand an electromagnetic field strength up to 100 watts per square meter with live ordnance items connected in flight configuration (April 26). An Electrical-Electronic Interference Test was conducted across the interface between the GLV and a spacecraft simulator (May 1). The rate switch package, damaged in the CSAT of April 17, was replaced after formal CSAT and had to be retested.

April 27

The vehicle acceptance team (VAT) for Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 2 convened at Martin-Baltimore. The VAT inspection was completed May 1 with GLV-2 found acceptable. GLV-2 was deerected the next day (May 2) and transferred to the assembly area where the interim stage I engine was removed and the new flight engine installed (May 11-June 13). Representatives of Air Force Space Systems Division (SSD), Aerospace, and NASA conducted the official roll-out inspection of GLV-2 June 17-18, and SSD formally accepted the vehicle June 22. GLV-2 delivery to Eastern Test Range (ETR), formerly Atlantic Missile Range, was rescheduled from June 22 to July 10. The time was used to complete modifications that had been scheduled at ETR. GLV-2 was airlifted to ETR on July 11.

April 30

AiResearch completed tests of the G2C suit to determine carbon dioxide washout efficiency, suit pressure drop, and outlet dew point of various metabolism rates. Crew Systems Division began qualification and reliability testing of the suit during April.

April 30

Air Force Space Systems Division (SSD) accepted the first Agena D (AD-71) for the Gemini program. The Agena D was a production-line vehicle procured from Lockheed by SSD for NASA through routine procedures. Following minor retrofit operations, the vehicle, now designated Gemini Agena target vehicle 5001, entered the manufacturing final assembly area at the Lockheed plant on May 14. There began the conversion of the Agena D into a target vehicle for Gemini rendezvous missions. Major modifications were installation of a target docking adapter (supplied by McDonnell), an auxiliary equipment rack, external status displays, a secondary propulsion system, and an L-band tracking radar.

GATV configuration
Figure 72. Configuration of the Gemini Agena target vehicle. (Lockheed, "Gemini Agena Target Vehicle Familiarization Handbook," LMSC A602521, Apr. 1, 1964, p. 1-6.)

May 1

The spacecraft computer formal qualification unit completed Predelivery Acceptance Tests (PDA) and was delivered to McDonnell. The flight unit for spacecraft No. 2 was delivered during the first week in May. Later in the month, a complete inrtial guidance system formal integration PDA was completed on spacecraft No. 2 (May 22). The spacecraft No. 3 flight unit completed PDA on June 6.

May 5

The first of a series of three tests, using static article No. 7, to complete the qualification of the Gemini parachute recovery system for spacecraft No. 2 was conducted at El Centro. This configuration did not include the drogue stabilization chute being developed for spacecraft Nos. 3 and up. Several failures marred the first test drop, requiring McDonnell to redesign and strengthen the brackets that attached the parachute container to the rendezvous and recovery section and to redesign the sequencing circuit. Further work on the brackets was needed after the second test, on May 28, when the brackets buckled, though they did not fail. The third and final test, on June 18, successfully completed the qualification of the parachute system. Static article No. 7 was then modified for use in Phase III testing to qualify the revised parachute system incorporating the drogue chute. Phase III began December 17.

May 5-7

Manned Spacecraft Center's Landing and Recovery Division conducted rough water suitability tests with Gemini boilerplate spacecraft in the Gulf of Mexico. Sea conditions during the tests were 4 to 8 foot waves and 20 to 25 knot surface winds. Tests were conducted with the flotation collar which had been air-dropped. Egress from the spacecraft on the water was carried out and the survival kit recovery beacon was exercised. The tests of the dye marker produced a water pattern that was not completely satisfactory. The flotation collar endured the rough seas quite well.

May 8

Langley Research Center completed tests on a model of the Gemini launch vehicle to determine the static and dynamic loads imposed on the vehicle and the launch vehicle erector by ground winds. Simulated wind velocities of 5 to 52 miles per hour did not produce loads great enough to be of concern. Tests had begun on April 15.

May 11

Sea trials of the tracking ship, Rose Knot, were begun on Chesapeake Bay to study the effects of shock vibrations on Gemini equipment. A few vibration problems with the pulse-code-modulation system were reported. Gemini-Agena systems were simulated by an instrumented Lockheed Super Constellation aircraft.

May 11-12

Primary and backup crews for Gemini-Titan 3 inspected a spacecraft No.3 crew station mock-up at McDonnell. They found all major aspects of the crew station acceptable. A few items remained to be corrected but would not affect the launch schedule.

May 13

Flight Operations Division presented the Gemini Program Office's proposed mission plan No. 3 for the first Agena rendezvous flight to the Trajectories and Orbits Panel. Plan No. 3, as yet incomplete, provided for rendezvous at first apogee on a perfectly nominal mission.

May 19

Manned Spacecraft Center requested that McDonnell submit a proposal to convert the Gemini spacecraft contract to a cost-plus-incentive-fee type. During the week of April 6, 1964, Gemini Program Manager Charles W. Mathews appointed a committee, headed by Deputy Manager Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, to prepare the request for proposal. The Gemini Program Office completed and reviewed the performance and scheduled criteria, upon which the request would be based, during the week of April 19. NASA Headquarters approved the request for proposal during the week of May 3.

May 29

Gemini spacecraft No. 3 began Phase I modular Spacecraft Systems Tests (SST) at McDonnell under the direction of the Launch Preparation Group. The Development Engineering Inspection of the spacecraft was held June 9-10. The new rendezvous and recovery section, incorporating the high-altitude drogue parachute, was installed and checked out during July and August. Modular SST and preparations for Phase II mated SST were completed September 12.

May 31

Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) reported that several devices to familiarize the flight crews with the scheduled extravehicular tests were being developed. The crews would receive training on a device called a "data simulator," which simulated the mechanical effects of zero-g environment. Gemini boilerplate No. 2 would be used in the vacuum chamber. A KC-135 aircraft flying zero-g parabolas would be used for ingress and egress training, and the Gemini mission simulator would be used for procedures and pressurized-suit, vehicle-control practice. Further training would be accomplished on the crew procedures development trainer and the flight spacecraft. MSC anticipated that the necessary equipment and development of preliminary procedures should allow a training program to begin in August 1964.

May 31

Gemini Program Office (GPO), encouraged by several highly successful tests, reported that all orbit attitude and maneuver system thrust chamber assembly (TCA) designs had been frozen. A 25-pound TCA tested to the 578-second mission duty cycle was still performing within specification requirements after more than 2100 seconds with a maximum skin temperature of 375 degrees F. An 85-pound TCA accumulated 3050 seconds of mission duty cycle operation with skin temperatures no higher than 320 degrees F. Maximum allowable for either TCA was 600 degrees F. Two tests of the 100-pound TCA were equally successful. The first was terminated after 757 seconds of mission duty cycle operation with a maximum skin temperature of 230 to 250 degrees F. The second ended when fuel was exhausted after 1950 seconds of mission duty cycle operation with a maximum skin temperature of 600 degrees F. GPO attributed the success of these tests to proper injector screening techniques and reorienting the ablation material laminates from vertical to the motor housing (90 degrees) to approximately parallel (6 degrees), both GPO suggestions, and to the boundary-layer cooling technique suggested by Rocketdyne. In May, Rocketdyne released to production the design for the long-duration TCAs. Installation of the new long-life TCAs was planned for spacecraft No. 5, to include the 100-pound aft-firing thrusters and all 25-pound thrusters. A full complement of long-life TCAs was planned for spacecraft No. 6.

June 3

In cooperation with Air Force and NASA, Lockheed inaugurated the Gemini Extra Care Program to reduce the incidence of equipment failures and discrepancies resulting from poor or careless workmanship during the modification and assembly of the Agena target vehicle. The program included increased inspection, exhortation, morale boosters, special awards, and other activities aimed at fostering and maintaining a strong team spirit at all levels. Results of the program were evidenced in a drastic decline in the number of FEDRs (Failed Equipment and Discrepancy Reports) recorded in the Gemini final manufacturing area on successive vehicles.

June 4

Dynamic qualification testing of the Gemini ejection seat began with sled test No. 6 at China Lake. This was a preliminary test to prove that hatches and hatch actuators would function properly under abort conditions; no ejection was attempted. The test was successful, and qualification testing proper began on July 1 with test No. 7. The test simulated conditions of maximum dynamic pressure following an abort from the powered phase of Gemini flight, the vehicle being positioned heatshield forward as in reentry. Both seats ejected and all systems functioned as designed. Further sled testing was delayed by slow delivery of pyrotechnics; sled test No. 8 was not run until November 5. This test revealed a structural deficiency in the ejection seat. When the feet of one of the dummies came out of the stirrups, the seat pitched over and yawed to the left, overloading the left side panel. The panel broke off, interrupting the sequence of the ejection system, and the seat and dummy never separated; both seat and dummy were destroyed when they hit the ground. Representatives of Manned Spacecraft Center and McDonnell met during the week of November 15 to consider revising the test program as a result of this failure. They decided to conduct test No. 9 under conditions approximating the most severe for which the ejection system was designed, in order to demonstrate the adequacy of the reworked seat structure. Test No. 9 was run on December 11, successfully demonstrating the entire ejection sequence and confirming the structural redesign. This brought the qualification sled test program to an end.

June 8

The entire complement of astronauts began launch abort training on the Ling-Temco-Vought simulator. Group 1 (selected April 1959) and Group 2 (September 1962) astronauts averaged approximately 100 runs each whereas Group 3 (October 1963) astronauts completed 32 runs apiece. The Gemini-Titan 3 launch profile was simulated in detail, including such cues as noise, vibration, pitch and roll programming, and other motion cues which results from various launch anomalies. The training was completed July 30.

June 10

Air Force Space Systems Division's cost-plus-fixed-fee contract with Martin for 15 Gemini launch vehicles (GLV) and associated aerospace ground equipment was replaced by a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract. Contract negotiations had been conducted between March 15 and April 30, 1964. The final contract contained cost, performance, and schedule incentives. Target cost was $111 million and target fee was $8.88 million. The maximum fee possible under the contract was $16.65 million as against a minimum of $3.33 million. The period of performance under the contract was July 1, 1963, through December 31, 1967, and covered the delivery of 14 GLVs (one GLV had already been delivered) and associated equipment and services, including checkout and launch.

June 12

Representatives of NASA, McDonnell, Weber Aircraft, and Air Force 6511th Test Group met to define the basic objectives of a program to demonstrate the functional reliability of the Gemini personnel recovery system under simulated operational conditions. Such a program had been suggested at a coordination meeting on the ejection seat system on October 30, 1963. The planned program called for the recovery system to be ejected from an F-106 aircraft, beginning with a static ground test in September, to demonstrate compatibility between the recovery system and the aircraft. Two full system tests, using a production configuration recovery system, would complete the program in about a month. The program was delayed by the unavailability of pyrotechnics. The static ground test was successfully conducted October 15, using pyrotechnics from the paraglider tow test vehicle (TTV) seat. The TTV seat pyrotechnics were adequate to demonstrate system/aircraft compatibility but lacked certain items required for full system test. Full system testing accordingly did not begin until January 28, 1965.

June 12

Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., Assistant Director for Flight Operations, Manned Spacecraft Center, reported that three basic plans were under study for rendezvous missions. Rendezvous at first apogee would probably be rejected because of possible dispersions which might necessitate plane changes. Rendezvous from concentric orbits seemed to be desirable because of the freedom in selection of the geographic position of rendezvous. Major work thus far, however, had been expended on the tangential rendezvous. Subsequently, the concentric orbit plan was chosen for Gemini-Titan 6, the first rendezvous mission.

Rendezvous plans
Figure 73. The three basic rendezvous plans being considered for the first Gemini rendezvous mission. (MSC, Gemini Midprogram Conference, Including Experiment Results, NASA SP-121, 1966, p. 277.)

June 16

Lockheed began test-firing the propulsion test vehicle assembly at its Santa Cruz Test Base, after a delay caused primarily by problems with the Agena main engine start tanks. The program, undertaken because of extensive changes in the propulsion system required to adapt the standard Agena D for use in Gemini missions, comprised three series of static-firing tests. The first series, in addition to providing base line performance for both primary and secondary propulsion systems (PPS and SPS), also subjected one SPS module to the dynamic and acoustic environment created by 55 seconds of PPS firing. The second series, successfully completed July 16, simulated a possible Gemini mission profile, including multiple firings and various coast and burn times on both PPS and SPS units. The third series, which concluded the test program on August 7, involved a maximum number of starts and minimum-impulse firings on both PPS and SPS. All firings were successful, and review of test data revealed only minor anomalies. The entire test program comprised 27 PPS firings for a run time totaling 545 seconds, 30 SPS Unit I firings totaling 286 seconds, and 11 SPS Unit II firings totaling 268 seconds. Post-test disassembly revealed no physical damage to any equipment.

June 17

Air Force Space Systems Division's cost-plus-fixed-fee contract with Aerojet-General for engines and related aerospace ground equipment for the Gemini launch vehicle was replaced by a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract. Contract negotiations had been conducted between May 25 and June 17, 1964. The final contract covered the procurement of 14 sets of engines (one set had already been delivered) and associated equipment during the period from July 1, 1963, through December 31, 1967. Cost, performance, and schedule incentives made possible a maximum fee of $5,885,250 versus a minimum fee of $1,177,050. The initial target cost was $39,235,000 with a target fee of $3,138,800.

June 19

Stage I of Gemini launch vehicle 3 was erected in the vertical test facility at Martin-Baltimore. Stage II was erected June 22. Power was first applied June 29, and subsystems functional verification testing concluded July 31.

June 22

A Gemini Recovery School began operations at Kindley Air Force Base, Bermuda. Conducted by the Landing and Recovery Division of Flight Operations Directorate, this was the first such training course for Gemini offered to recovery personnel. The group included pararescue crews, Air Force navigators, and maintenance personnel.

June 24

Construction of Gemini-Agena facilities at complex 14 was completed. General Dynamics finished the installation and checkout of equipment in the Launch Operations Building on July 20. Lockheed equipment in the Launch Operations Building was installed and checked out by July 31.

June 25

Martin-Baltimore received the propellant tanks for Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 5 from Martin-Denver, which had begun fabrication in October 1963. Aerojet-General delivered the flight engines for GLV-5 November 5. Tank splicing was completed December 5; engine installation December 9. Final horizontal tests were completed January 7, 1965.

June 30

McDonnell conducted the first of two tests to qualify the spacecraft for water impact landing. Static article No. 4 was dropped from the landing system test rig heatshield forward and incurred no damage. In the second test, on July 13, the unit was dropped conical section forward. A pressure decay test of the cabin after the drop indicated a very small leak. The test unit was left in the water for two weeks and took on a pint of water, meeting qualification requirements.

July 3

Following the successful mating of its modules, Gemini spacecraft No. 2 began the second phase of Spacecraft Systems Tests (SST) at McDonnell. SST continued through September. During August and September, test operations alternated with the receipt and installation of a number of flight items in the spacecraft. Vibration testing of the spacecraft and systems was successfully conducted August 20-24. No altitude chamber tests were performed on spacecraft No. 2 because the Gemini-Titan 2 mission was to be unmanned. Phase II mated SST concluded with the Simulated Flight Test September 3-15. The spacecraft acceptance review was held September 17-18, after which it was flown to Cape Kennedy September 21.

Gemini spacecraft No. 2 instrumentation pallets
Figure 74. Special instrumentation pallets to be installed in Gemini spacecraft No. 2 in the same positions that astronauts would occupy in later flights. (NASA Photo S-652263, undated.)

July 6-12

The first design review of the extravehicular life support system chest pack was conducted. Manned Spacecraft Center conditionally approved the AiResearch basic design but recommended certain changes.

July 7

McDonnell delivered its proposal for conversion of the Gemini spacecraft contract to a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract. Manned Spacecraft Center began analysis and evaluation of the proposal.

July 10

Manager Charles W. Mathews reported that the Gemini Program Office had been reviewing and evaluating plans for Gemini-Titan (GT) missions 4 through 7. GT-4 would be a four-day mission using battery power. GT-5 would include radar and a rendezvous evaluation pod for rendezvous exercises early in the flight. The duration of this mission would be open-ended for a period of seven days, contingent upon the availability of fuel cells. GT-6 would be a standard rendezvous mission of perhaps two days' duration. GT-7 would be a long-duration mission with an open-ended potential of 14 days. George E. Mueller, NASA Associate Administrator, Office of Manned Space Flight, was currently reviewing these plans.

July 11

Gemini launch vehicle 2 arrived at Eastern Test Range. Stage I was erected at complex 19 on July 13, stage II on July 14. Electrical power was applied to the vehicle on July 20 in preparation for Subsystems Functional Verification Tests, which began July 21.

GLV 2 stage I at Cape Kennedy
Figure 75. The first stage of Gemini launch vehicle 2 being unloaded from an Air Force C-133 at Cape Kennedy. (KSC 64-14608, July 11, 1964.)

July 16-17

Flight Crew Support Division objected to McDonnell procedures for conducting ejection seat sled tests because they were not adequate to give confidence in manned use of the seats. The dummies were being rigged with extreme restraint-harness tensions and highly torqued joints which could not be achieved with human subjects. McDonnell was requested to review the situation and prepare a report for Gemini Program Office.

July 19-25

Gemini Program Office reported that tests had been conducted on section I of the fuel cells planned for the long-duration Gemini-Titan 5 mission. These tests had resulted in a failure characterized by output decay. A complete investigation was in process to determine the cause of the failure.

July 27

Astronauts James A. McDivitt and Edward H. White II were named as command pilot and pilot, respectively, for the Gemini-Titan (GT) 4 mission scheduled for the first quarter of 1965. The backup crew for the mission would be Frank Borman, command pilot, and James A. Lovell, Jr., pilot. The mission was scheduled for up to four days' duration, with 10 or 11 experiments to be performed. At a press conference on July 29 at Manned Spacecraft Center, Deputy Gemini Program Manager Kenneth S. Kleinknecht said that on the second manned space flight an astronaut would first be exposed to the hazards of outer space without full spacecraft protection. Although he first said that the experiment would involve "stepping into space," he later modified this by saying that it might involve nothing more than opening a hatch and standing up. Other scientific experiments assigned to the GT-4 flight would include medical tests, radiation measurements, and measurement of Earth's magnetic field.

July 27

The first meeting of the Gemini Configuration Control Board was held, and meetings were scheduled for each Monday thereafter. McDonnell's proposal for implementation of the spacecraft configuration management system had been received by the program office and was being reviewed. Initial elements of the system were being implemented.

July 29

Flight Crew Support Division personnel visited Langley Research Center for a simulation of the Gemini optical rendezvous maneuver. The simulation projected a flashing target against a background of stars inside a 40-foot diameter radome, representing the view from the command pilot station and window port. During the demonstration, a lighted window reticle was found to be useful in the line-of-sight control task.

July 29

North American conducted the first tow test vehicle (TTV) captive-flight test required by the Paraglider Landing System Program. A helicopter towed the TTV to 2600 feet. After about 20 minutes of total flight time, the test pilot brought the TTV to a smooth three-point landing. The tow cable was released immediately after touchdown, the wing about four seconds later. This highly successful flight was followed on August 7 by a free-flight test that was much less successful. After the TTV was towed by helicopter to 15,500 feet and released, it went into a series of uncontrolled turns, and the pilot was forced to bail out. North American then undertook a test program to isolate the malfunction and correct it, including 14 radio-controlled, half-scale TTV test flights between August 24 and December 13. Two highly successful radio-controlled, full-scale TTV free flights on December 15 and 17 justified another attempted pilot-controlled flight on December 19, with excellent results.

July 30

In response to a request from NASA Headquarters, Gemini Program Office (GPO) provided a study for Gemini missions beyond the 12 originally planned. "The Advanced Gemini Missions Conceptual Study" described 16 further missions, including a space station experiment, a satellite chaser mission, a lifeboat rescue mission, and both a circumlunar and lunar orbiting mission. On February 28, 1965, GPO reported that a preliminary proposal for Gemini follow-on missions to test the land landing system had not been approved. Spare Gemini launch vehicles 13, 14, and 15 were canceled, and there were no current plans for Gemini missions beyond the approved 12-flight program.

August 4-6

Manned Spacecraft Center Propulsion and Power Division conducted a test of the Gemini fuel cell. The system was inadvertently operated for 15 minutes during a short circuit prior to the scheduled test. System performance was poor, and two of the cells would not carry loads of six amperes. The test was terminated. The product water sample obtained from the test was extremely acidic, indicating a potential membrane failure.

August 7

The formal Combined Systems Acceptance Test (CSAT) of Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 3 was successfully performed. The vehicle acceptance team (VAT) met August 17 to review CSAT and other test and manufacturing data. Because GLV-3 was not yet needed at the Cape, Manned Spacecraft Center, in line with Aerospace recommendations, decided to have all engineering changes installed at Baltimore instead of at the Cape. After reviewing these modifications, the VAT directed Martin to conduct a second CSAT when they were completed. Modifications were completed September 15; subsystems retest was finished September 28, and the second CSAT was completed September 30.

August 14

At a meeting of the NASA-McDonnell Management Panel, the problem of the extravehicular activity (EVA) chest pack size was discussed. If stowed on spacecraft No. 6, it would take up space that would otherwise be available for experiments on that mission, and the same would be true on subsequent missions. A study was requested from McDonnell, as well as suggestions for alternative plans. One such alternative proposed was the storing of some experiments in the adapter section - but this, of course, meant that EVA would be a prerequisite for those experiments.

August 16

Martin-Baltimore received the propellant tanks for Gemini launch vehicle 6 from Martin-Denver, which had begun fabricating them in April. After being inspected, the tanks were placed in storage where they remained until December 18.

August 17

A severe electrical storm in the vicinity of complex 19 interrupted testing of Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 2. Several observers reported a lightning strike at or near complex 19. All testing was halted for a thorough investigation of this so-called electromagnetic incident. The inspection, completed on September 2, revealed no physical markings of any kind but disclosed a number of failed components, mostly in aerospace ground equipment (AGE) with some in GLV-2. This indicated that complex 19 had not been hit directly; damage was attributed to the electromagnetic effects of a nearby lightning strike or to resulting static charges. A recovery plan was prepared to restore confidence in all launch vehicle systems, AGE, ground instrumentation equipment, and facility systems. All components containing semiconductors were replaced, and all tests were to be conducted again as if GLV-2 had just arrived at Eastern Test Range.

August 22

Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) Procurement and Contracts Division reported that the amendment to the Gemini flight suit contract covering G3C flight suits and related equipment for Gemini-Titan (GT) 3 had been sent to the contractor, David Clark Company. The first four Gemini flight suits, to be used in GT-3, were delivered to MSC late in August. Because of earlier problems in fitting training suits, astronauts had had preliminary fittings of the flight suits before final delivery.

August 22

Crew Systems Division reported that AiResearch had been formally notified to begin immediately integrating displays and associated circuitry for the astronaut Modular Maneuvering Unit (MMU) into the basic design of the extravehicular life support system (ELSS). The MMU was scheduled to be flown in Gemini-Titan 9 as Department of Defense experiment D-12. The first prototype ELSS was scheduled for delivery in January 1965.

August 22

Flight Crew Support Division reported that egress and recovery training for the first manned Gemini flight crew had been defined and scheduled in three phases: phase I would consist of an egress procedure review in the McDonnell Gemini mock-up, phase II of a review of egress development results and of egress using the trainer and the Ellington flotation tank, and phase III of egress in open water with the essential recovery forces.

August 27

Hurricane Cleo struck the Cape Kennedy area. Stage II of Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 2 was deerected and stored; the erector was lowered to horizontal, and stage I was lashed in its vertical position. Stage II was reerected September 1. Power was applied to the launch vehicle September 2, and Subsystem Functional Verification Tests (SSFVT) began September 3. When forecasts indicated that Hurricane Dora would strike Cape Kennedy, both stages of GLV-2 were deerected on September 8 and secured in the Missile Assembly Building. Hurricane Ethel subsequently threatened the area, and both stages remained in the hanger until September 14, when they were returned to complex 19 and reerected. SSFVT, begun again on September 18, ended successfully October 5.

August 31

Manned Spacecraft Center reported that efforts were still being made to clarify production problems at Ordnance Associates, Pasadena, California, pyrotechnics contractor for the Gemini program. The problems appeared to be more extensive than had been previously indicated. Problems of poor planning or fabrication and testing were complicated by poor quality control. In many areas it was difficult to trace the routing of parts. These problems were caused by inadequate record-keeping and frequent by-passing of checkpoints by development engineers who were trying to expedite the release of parts for test programs. Efforts to solve these difficulties stopped production for a time and delayed the overall program.

August 31

Gemini Program Office (GPO) reported the substantial completion of all research and development testing of components, including thrust chamber assemblies, of the reentry control system (RCS) and orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS) as configured for spacecraft Nos. 2 through 5. System testing of two RCS units was under way, and GPO expected the test program to be finished by the end of 1964. Research and development system testing of the OAMS configuration for spacecraft Nos. 2 through 5 was expected to be completed within three months, but no plans had yet been approved for tests of the spacecraft No. 6 configuration. The long delay in completing research and development testing had resulted in serious delays in the qualification test program. GPO reviewed the qualification test program to see how schedules could be improved without compromising the attainment of test data. Some test requirements were deleted, but the major change was reducing hardware requirements by planning more tests on single units. Since lack of hardware had been a major source of delay, GPO expected this change to produce improved schedules. Reliability testing was to be done on some qualification hardware, which meant that much of the reliability test program could not be initiated until qualification testing was finished.

September 4

Air Force Space Systems Division (SSD), supported by launch vehicle contractors, recommended that Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 2 be flown as scheduled. Manned Spacecraft Center had proposed dropping GLV-2 from the Gemini program because of possible ill effects resulting from the electromagnetic incident of August 17 and from Hurricane Cleo. GLV-3 would then be substituted for the second Gemini mission, and the program would be shortened by one flight. After reviewing the incidents, their effects, corrective action, and retesting, SSD, Martin, Aerospace, and Aerojet-General all felt GLV-2 should fly, and NASA accepted their recommendation.

September 8

McDonnell began final checkout and control system calibration tests of the Gemini translation and docking simulator. Engineering data runs for the control system evaluation tests of the simulator began September 12 and lasted two weeks. All testing was expected to be completed by late October when crew training would begin.

September 13

Final mating of Gemini spacecraft No. 3 modules began at McDonnell. Mating operations were completed September 27. In the meantime, the second phase of Spacecraft Systems Tests (SST) began. Vibration testing was accomplished November 7-8, and altitude chamber tests began November 12. During the manned portion of altitude tests, space suits for the Gemini-Titan 3 prime and backup crews were satisfactorily checked out, with no significant problems (November 15-19). The Simulated Flight Test (December 6-21) completed SST. After spacecraft acceptance review on December 22, it was shipped to Cape Kennedy January 3, 1965.

September 21

Spacecraft No. 2 arrived at Cape Kennedy and was installed in the Cryogenic Building of the Merritt Island Launch Area Fluid Test Complex. There it was inspected and connected to aerospace ground equipment (AGE), and hypergolic and cryogenic servicing was performed. Reentry control and orbit attitude and maneuver systems engines were static fired October 4-5. The spacecraft was moved to the Weight and Balance Building on October 10 for pyrotechnic buildup and installation of seats and pallets, completed October 17. The following day it was transferred to complex 19 and prepared for mating with Gemini launch vehicle 2. Premate systems testing was conducted October 21-27. Premate Simulated Flight Test was completed November 4.

September 23

Manned Spacecraft Center announced at a Trajectories and Orbit Panel meeting that several changes in the ground rules had been made to the Gemini-Titan 6 mission plan. One change concerned a previous assumption of a 20-day Agena lifetime; it was now established that the Agena would not be modified to provide this. As a result, greater emphasis had to be placed on ensuring spacecraft launch on the same day as the Agena, primarily by relieving the constraint of no Agena maneuvers. The restriction on using Agena maneuvers had been removed to increase the probability of achieving rendezvous within the few days that the Agena would remain an acceptable target.

September 24

Lockheed completed the modification and final assembly of Gemini Agena target vehicle 5001 and transferred it to systems test complex C-10 at the Lockheed plant. Lockheed began the task of hooking the vehicle up for systems testing the next day, September 25.

September 25-26

Representatives from Instrumentation and Electronics Division conducted preliminary rendezvous radar flight tests at White Sands Missile Range. Testing was interrupted while the T-33 aircraft being used was down for major maintenance and was then resumed on October 19. Flight testing of the rendezvous radar concluded December 8.

September 29

Gemini Program Manager Charles W. Mathews presented the Gemini Management Panel with the new flight schedule resulting from the lightning strike and hurricane conditions. The schedule was as follows: Gemini-Titan (GT) 2, November 17; GT-3, January 30, 1965; and GT-4, April 12. For GT-4 through GT-7, three-month launch intervals were planned; for the remainder of the program, these intervals would be reduced to two and one half months.

September 29

Fuel cells and batteries were discussed as power sources for the Gemini-Titan (GT) 5 mission (long-duration) at a meeting of the Gemini Management Panel. A study was reviewed that proposed a combination to be used in the following manner: batteries would be used during peak load requirements; the fuel cell would supply the remaining mission power source requirements. The panal accepted the proposal, and McDonnell was directed to proceed with the plan. In addition, the group decided to remove the fuel cell from GT-4 and substitute batteries, pending the concurrence of NASA Headquarters. It also decided to fly older versions of the fuel cell in GT-2 (the redesigned version would be flown in the later manned flights) to gain flight experience with the component.

September 30

Manned at-sea tests of the Gemini spacecraft, using static article No. 5, began. During the two days of tests, spacecraft postlanding systems functioned satisfactorily, but the two crew members were uncomfortable while wearing their pressure suits. The comfort level was improved by removing the suits, but cabin heat and humidity levels were high. The test was stopped after 17 hours by the approach of Hurricane Hilda. A test to determine if opening the hatch would alleviate the heat and humidity problem was conducted November 13; temperature did fall, enhancing comfort of the test subjects. Three days later an at-sea test demonstrated water egress procedure. The astronauts left the spacecraft and were able to close and latch the hatch behind them, indicating that the reentry vehicle could be recovered even if the astronauts had to leave it.

Egress training
Figure 76. At-sea egress training in Galveston Bay. (NASA Photo No. 65-H-641, released Apr. 14, 1965.)

September (during the month)

Early in the month, Bell Aerosystems began a test program to identify the cause of the failure of the secondary propulsion system (SPS) Unit II thrust chamber during Preliminary Flight Rating Tests. The wall of the thrust chamber had burned through near the injector face before attaining the specification accumulated firing time of 400 seconds. Six series of tests, each comprising three 50-second firings separated by 30-minute coast periods, were planned, with the temperature range of fuel and oxidizer varied for each series. Originally planned for completion in two weeks, the test program was delayed by test cell problems and did not end until mid-November. Only four test series were actually run, but they were enough to establish that the chamber wall burned through when both fuel and oxidizer were at elevated temperatures (above 100 degrees F) and only when burn time approached 50 seconds. Gemini Project Office concluded that no mission problem existed because Lockheed's analysis of SPS operation indicated that the maximum propellant temperature range in orbit was 0 degrees to 85 degrees F, including a 30 degree F margin. (Nominal temperature range was 30 degrees to 55 degrees F.)

October 6

The Prespacecraft Mate Combined Systems Test (CST) of Gemini launch vehicle 2 was completed at complex 19. This test, similar to CST performed at the Martin plant, comprised an abbreviated countdown and simulation of flight events, with a simulator representing electrical characteristics of the spacecraft; its purpose was to establish confidence in the launch vehicle. Electrical Electronic Interference Tests were completed October 12. Hurricane Isbell threatened the area on October 14-15, but its path was far enough south of the Cape to make deerection unnecessary, though testing was curtailed.

October 7

The vehicle acceptance team for Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 3 met for the second time to review test and manufacturing data at Martin-Baltimore. The meeting concluded on October 9 with the vehicle found acceptable and Martin was authorized to remove it from the vertical test cell. After final checks, weighing, and balancing, GLV-3 passed roll-out inspection on October 27 and was turned over to the Air Force. Air Force Space Systems Division formally accepted GLV-3, following a review of launch vehicle status and correction of discrepancy items.

GLV 3 during final checks
Figure 77. Gemini launch vehicle 3 undergoing final checks before roll-out inspection. (Martin Photo No. B-70503, undated.)

Astronauts at GLV 3 inspection
Figure 78. Backup and prime crews for Gemini-Titan 3 mission at Gemini launch vehicle 3 roll-out inspection. Left to right: Thomas P. Stafford, Walter M. Schirra, Jr., John W. Young, and Virgil I. Grissom. (NASA Photo No. 64-H-2598 [Gemini], Oct. 28, 1964.)

October 9-17

First major tests of the NASA worldwide tracking network were conducted in preparation for manned orbital flights in the Gemini program. Simulated flight missions were carried out over nine days and invloved Goddard Space Flight Center, Mission Control Center at the Cape, and eight remote sites in the worldwide network to test tracking and communications equipment, as well as flight control procedures and equipment. This completed the updating of the Manned Space Flight Tracking Network to support the Gemini flights. Converting the Mercury network for Gemini had taken two years and cost $50 million.

Gemini network
Figure 79. The Gemini Network. See Appendix 4 tabulation of equipment at each site. (NASA Photo S-65-4007, undated.)

October 10

Gemini Program Office reported that the first production rendezvous radar, intended for spacecraft No. 5, had completed its predelivery acceptance test.

October 15

McDonnell completed final assembly and systems tests of Gemini spacecraft No. 3A and delivered it to the laboratory for thermal balance testing. Spacecraft No. 3A had been designated a thermal qualification test unit. All of its systems and subsystems were flightworthy, with the exception of certain easily replaceable pieces of equipment such as the heatshield and ejection seats for which non-flight articles were substituted with NASA approval. Qualification testing comprised mission simulations in the altitude chamber, with all systems being operated to their duty cycles. During the next two months, the spacecraft was installed in the altitude chamber, completed a dry run test, and was accepted after a readiness review meeting. Thermal qualification testing began December 19.

October 17

Flight Crew Support Division reported that the Gemini-Titan (GT) 3 primary crew had completed egress practice in boilerplate No. 201 in the Ellington Air Force Base flotation tank. The backup GT-4 crew was scheduled for such training on October 23. Full-scale egress and recovery training for both the GT-3 and the GT-4 crews was scheduled to begin about January 15, when parachute refresher courses would also be scheduled.

Egress training
Figure 80. Water egress training in the flotation tank at Ellington Air Force Base, Texas. (NASA Photo S-65-2503, Feb. 5,1965.)

October 17

Crew Systems Division reported that the first Gemini extravehicular prototype suit had been received from the contractor and assigned to Astronaut James A. McDivitt for evaluation in the Gemini mission simulator. During the test, McDivitt complained of some bulkiness and immobility while the suit was in the unpressurized condition, but the bulk did not appear to hinder mobility when the suit was pressurized. The thermal/micrometeoroid cover layer had been installed on a test suit sent to Ling-Temco-Vought for thermal testing in the space simulator chamber.

Gemini G4C suit
Figure 81. Diagram of the Gemini G4C extravehicular suit. (NASA Photo S-65-4858, May 1965.)

October 17

Crew Systems Division reported that zero-g tests had been conducted at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to evaluate extravehicular life support system ingress techniques. Results showed that, after practice at zero-g, subjects wearing the chest pack had successfully entered the spacecraft and secured the hatch in approximately 50 seconds.

Zero-g tests
Figure 82. Norman Shyken, McDonnell engineer-pilot, in zero-g tests in an Air Force KC-135 jet transport. (NASA Photo S-64-23051, May 25, 1964.)

October 26

Russell L. Schweickart spent eight days in a Gemini space suit to evaluate Gemini biomedical recording instruments. While in the suit, the astronaut flew several zero-g flight profiles, went through a simulated four-day Gemini mission, and experienced several centrifuge runs.

October 28

Gemini launch vehicle 4 was erected in the vertical test facility at Martin-Baltimore. Power was applied to the vehicle for the first time on November 4. Subsystems Functional Verification Tests were completed November 19.

October 28

Bell Aerosystems successfully fired the Agena secondary propulsion system (SPS) in a test of the system's ability to survive a launch hold. The SPS had first gone through a 20-day dry (unloaded) period, followed by a 20-day wet (loaded) period. The system reverted to hold condition and was successfully refired November 2.

November 5

Gemini launch vehicle 2 and spacecraft No. 2 were mechanically mated at complex 19. The Electrical Interface Integrated Validation, confirming compatibility between launch vehicle and spacecraft and checking out redundant circuits connecting the interface, was completed November 9. This was followed by the Joint Guidance and Control Test, completed Novenber 12, which established proper functioning of the secondary guidance system, comprising the spacecraft inertial guidance system and the launch vehicle's secondary flight control system.

November 9

The Gemini mission simulator at the Cape, configured in the spacecraft No. 3 version, became operational; during the next three weeks, some 40 hours of flight crew usage and three hours of other Manned Spacecraft Center personnel usage were logged.

GT 3 crew in flight simulatorSimulator technicians
Figure 83A. Astronauts Grissom and Young in the Gemini mission simulator at Cape Kennedy prior to the Gemini-Titan 3 mission. (NASA Photo No. 65-H-415, released Mar. 19, 1965.) Figure 83B. Technicians at the mission simulator console. (NASA Photo No. 65-H-416, released Mar. 19, 1965.)

November 10

Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV) 5001 competed a simulated flight (ascent and orbit) at Lockheed test complex C-10. Minor anomalies required portions of the test to be rerun. This concluded GATV 5001 systems tests in preparation for captive-firing tests to be conducted at Lockheed's Santa Cruz Test Base. The vehicle was shipped November 30.

November 17

Gemini launch vehicle 2 and spacecraft No. 2 were electrically mated at complex 19. The Joint Combined Systems Test was run the following day. This was the first test of launch vehicle and spacecraft combined systems. It consisted of an abbreviated countdown and two plus-time flight simulations, one to exercise the primary guidance system, the second to exercise the secondary system. A second combined systems test, the Flight Configuration Mode Test (FCMT), was completed November 21 in preparation for the Wet Mock Simulated Launch. FCMT was essentially similar to other combined systems tests except that all umbilicals were dropped.

November 24

Gemini-Titan (GT) 2 successfully completed the Wet Mock Simulated Launch, a full-scale countdown exercise which included propellant loading. Procedures for flight crew suiting and spacecraft ingress were practiced during simulated launch. The primary Gemini-Titan 3 flight crew donned the training suits and full biomedical instrumentation, assisted by the space suit bioinstrumentation and aeromedical personnel who would participate in the GT-3 launch operation. As a result of this practice operation, it was established that all physical examinations, bioinstrumentation sensor attachment, and suit donning would be done in the pilot ready room at complex 16. The final readiness of the vehicle for flight was established by the Simulated Flight Test on December 3. For the launch vehicle, this test was a repeat of the Joint Combined Systems Test, but for the spacecraft it was a detailed mission simulation.

November 24

Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 3 was scheduled to be shipped from Martin-Baltimore to Cape Kennedy. Shipment was delayed, however, because GLV-2 had not yet been launched; and several modifications, scheduled for the Cape, were made at Baltimore instead. All work was completed by January 14, 1965; the vehicle was reinspected and was again available for delivery. Preparations for shipment were completed January 20, and stage II was airlifted to Cape Kennedy January 21, followed by stage I January 23.

November 25

The Combined Systems Acceptance Test of Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 4 was conducted. The vehicle acceptance team inspected the vehicle and reviewed all test and manufacturing data December 11-13 and authorized Martin to remove GLV-4 from the vertical test cell. During the next three months, while awaiting shipment to Cape Kennedy, GLV-4 had 27 engineering changes installed. Final integrity checks, weighing, and balancing were completed March 8, 1965.

November 30

Lockheed shipped Gemini Agena target vehicle (GATV) 5001 to its Santa Cruz Test Base for captive-firing tests. Primary test objective was verifying the operational capabilities of the GATV during actual firing of the primary and secondary propulsion systems. Other objectives included developing operational procedures and techniques for vehicle handling, launch preparation, servicing, countdown, and postfire servicing, as well as verifying ground equipment peculiar to the Gemini program, including the pulse-code-modulated telemetry ground station. The target docking adapter (TDA), manufactured by McDonnell, was also to be installed and tested as an integral system. When the TDA was hoisted into the test stand on December 17 to be physically mated with the GATV, the interface between the two vehicles emerged as a major problem. After some preliminary difficulties, the physical mate was accomplished, but discrepancies were discovered in wiring continuity. The captive flight test was delayed until January 20, 1965.

November 30

Astronauts James McDivitt and Edward White, command pilot and pilot for the Gemini-Titan 4 mission, began crew training on Gemini mission simulator No. 2 in Houston. The initial week of training was devoted to familiarizing the crew with the interior of the spacecraft.

December 1

Roll-out inspection and delivery of the first Atlas standard launch vehicle (SLV-3) for the Gemini program was completed at the General Dynamics/Convair plant in San Diego. Originally scheduled for November 23, inspection had been delayed by the discovery of scored fuel and oxidizer lines. After being accepted by the Air Force, the vehicle was shipped by truck to Eastern Test Range, where it arrived on December 7.

GATV terminology
Figure 84. Terminology for the Gemini Agena target vehicle program. (Lockheed, Gemini Agena Target Press Handbook, LMSC A766871, Feb. 15, 1966, p. 1-1.)

December 3

NASA advised North American that no funds were available for further flight testing in the Paraglider Landing System Program, following completion of full-scale test vehicle flight test No. 25. NASA did authorize North American to use the test vehicles and equipment it had for a contractor-supported flight test program. North American conducted a two-week test program which culminated in a highly successful manned tow-test vehicle flight on December 19.

December 7

A four-day comfort test of the Gemini space suit was started as part of the suit qualification test program. The test utilized a human volunteer and ended successfully on December 11. The suited subject used Gemini food and bioinstrumentation and the Gemini waste management systems hardware.

December 9

Gemini-Titan (GT) 2 launch countdown began at 4:00 a.m., e.s.t., and proceeded normally, with minor holds, until about one second after engine ignition. At that point a shutdown signal from the master operations control set (MOCS) terminated the launch attempt. Loss of hydraulic pressure in the primary guidance and control system of stage I of the launch vehicle caused an automatic switchover to the secondary guidance and control system. During the 3.2-second holddown following ignition command, switchover was instrumented as a shutdown command. Accordingly, the MOCS killed the launch attempt. Subsequent investigation disclosed that loss of hydraulic pressure had been caused by failure of the primary servo-valve in one of the four tandem actuators which control movement of the stage I thrust chambers. All four stage I tandem actuators were replaced with redesigned actuators.

GLV stage I hydraulic system
Figure 85. Gemini launch vehicle stage I hydraulic system. (Martin Photo 8B65778, undated.)

December 9

The Mission Control Center at Houston was used passively and in parallel with the Mission Control Center at the Cape in the Gemini-Titan 2 launch attempt, primarily to validate the computer launch programs. In addition, considerable use was made of the telemetry processing program and related television display formats. The Houston control center received, processed, and displayed live and simulated Gemini launch vehicle and spacecraft data. Test results were considered very successful.

December 12

Gemini Program Office (GPO) reported that it had initiated contractual action to delete the eighth Agena from the Gemini Agena target vehicle program. On March 6, 1965, GPO reported its decision to eliminate the seventh Agena as well.

December 15

The Gemini Phase II centrifuge training program was completed. Phase II provided refresher training for Gemini-Titan 3 and 4 flight crews, who made their runs clad in pressure suits. For astronauts not yet officially assigned to a mission the program provided familiarization training under shirt-sleeve conditions. Phase II had begun early in November.

December 16

Atlas standard launch vehicle (SLV-3) 5301 was erected on complex 14 at Eastern Test Range. This was not only the Gemini program's first Atlas, but also the first SLV-3 on a new complex. Tests began to validate the pad and its associated aerospace ground equipment (AGE). AGE validation was completed December 30, propellant loading tests in mid-January 1965. Testing ended on February 11 with a flight readiness demonstration.

December 17

Phase III tests to qualify the Gemini parachute recovery system began with a successful drop of static article No. 7. In addition to No. 7, static article No. 4A was also used in the series of 10 tests. All tests were successful, with neither parachute nor sequencing failures. Phase III ended on February 11, 1965, with the 10th drop test. This completed the qualification of the Gemini parachute system.

December 17

Air Force Space Systems Division officially accepted Agena D (AD-82) for the Gemini program. Lockheed then transferred it to the vehicle final assembly area for modification to Gemini Agena target vehicle 5002. Work was scheduled to begin in mid-January 1965.

Agena D 82
Figure 86. Agena D 82 undergoing modification to Gemini Agena target vehicle 5002. (Lockheed Photo SA63603-C, Feb. 25, 1965.)

December 18

Martin-Baltimore removed the propellant tanks for Gemini launch vehicle (GLV) 6 from storage. Cleaning the tanks and purging them with nitrogen was completed February 5, 1965. Aerojet-General delivered the flight engines for GLV-6 February 1. Tank splicing was completed February 23, engine installation, February 25. GLV-6 horizontal testing was completed April 3.

December 19

Gemini spacecraft No. 3A began thermal qualification tests in the altitude chamber at McDonnell. During test No. 1 (December 19-21), the spacecraft coolant system froze. Over the next three weeks, the coolant system was retested and redesigned. The modified coolant system was subsequently installed in other spacecraft. Test No. 2 was run January 6-13, and the test program ended February 19 with the third test run. The three test runs in total simulated over 220 orbits.

December 28

Crew Systems Division received a prototype G4C extravehicular Gemini space suit for testing. This suit contained a thermal/micrometeoroid cover layer, a redundant closure, and the open visor assembly for visual, thermal, and structural protection. Zero-gravity tests in January 1965 showed the suit to be generally satisfactory, but the heavy cover layer made moving around in it awkward. The cover layer was redesigned to remove excess bulk. The new cover layer proved satisfactory when it was tested in February.

Gemini G4C extravehicular suit
Figure 87. The Gemini G4C extravehicular suit with chestpack ventilation control module and gold-coated umbilical line. (NASA Photo S-65-27424, May 28, 1965.)

Previous Next Index