|Gemini 3 insignia|
|Mission name:||Gemini 3|
|Call sign:||Molly Brown|
|Launch:||March 23, 1965|
|Landing:||March 23, 1965|
|Duration:||4 hours - 52 minutes|
|Distance traveled:||128,748 km|
|Gemini 3 crew portrait (L-R: Young, Grissom) |
Gemini 3 crew portrait
(L-R: Young, Grissom)
|Gemini 3 Crew|
Gemini 3 was a 1965 manned space flight in NASA's Gemini program. It was the first manned Gemini flight, the ninth manned American flight and the 17th manned spaceflight of all time (includes X-15 flights over 100 kilometres).
- Virgil I. Grissom (flew on Mercury 4, Gemini 3, & Apollo 1), Command Pilot
- John W. Young (flew on Gemini 3, Gemini 10, Apollo 10, Apollo 16, STS-1, & STS-9), Pilot
- First orbital maneuver by manned spacecraft
On March 23, 1965 at 15:57:00 UTC, at the end of the first orbit, over Corpus Christi, Texas, a 1 minute 14 second burn of the Orbit attitude and maneuvering system (OAMS) engines gave a delta-V of 15.5 meters per second. The orbit was changed from 161.2 km x 224.2 km, period 88.3 minutes to an orbit of 158 km x 169 km, period 87.8 minutes.
This first manned flight of the Gemini spacecraft was very much a test flight. In a playful reference to the Broadway hit The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Grissom nicknamed the Gemini 3 spacecraft "Molly Brown," hoping that it would not duplicate his experience with Liberty Bell 7. (It was the last Gemini to be named by an astronaut. All subsequent flights in the program were designated by a Roman numeral.) The mission's primary goal was to test the new, maneuverable Gemini spacecraft. In space, the crew fired thrusters to change the shape of their orbit, shift their orbital plane slightly, and drop to a lower altitude. Other firsts were achieved on Gemini 3: two people flew aboard an American spacecraft; the first manned re-entry where the spacecraft was able to produce lift to change its touchdown point.
The only major incident during the orbital phase involved a contraband corned beef sandwich that Young had snuck on board. The crew each took a few bites before the sandwich had to be restowed. The crumbs it released could have wreaked havoc with the craft's electronics, so the crew were reprimanded when they returned to Earth. Other crews were warned not to pull the same type of stunt again.
Two small failures occurred in-orbit. The first was an experiment testing the Synergistic Effect of Zero Gravity on Sea Urchin Eggs. A lever essential to the experiment broke off when pulled. The second involved the photographic coverage objective. It was only partially successful due to an improper lens setting on the 16mm camera.
The crew made their first orbit change an hour and a half into the flight. The burn lasted 75 seconds and moved them from a 122 by 175 kilometer orbit to a nearly circular one with a drop in speed of 15 metres per second. The second burn was 45 minutes later when the orbital inclination was changed by 0.02 degrees. The last burn came during the third orbit when the perigee was lowered to 72 kilometres. This meant that even if retrorockets had failed, they would still have reentered. When reentry finally occurred, crew commented that even the colours matched ground simulations.
On descent, the capsule shifted from a vertical to horizontal attitude under its parachutes. The change was so sudden that Grissom cracked his faceplate on the control panel in front of him.
The craft landed eventually 84 kilometers short of its intended splashdown point. Wind tunnel testing incorrectly predicted the craft's ability to compensate for course deviation. When the crew discovered the error, they decided to stay in the capsule, not wanting to open the hatch before the arrival of the recovery ship. The crew spent an uncomfortable half an hour in a spacecraft never designed to be a boat. The Gemini 3 mission was supported by the following United States Department of Defense resources: 10,185 personnel, 126 aircraft and 27 ships.
The mission insignia was not worn by the flight crew as a patch, like those from Gemini 5 onwards. The Gemini 3 Molly Brown logo was designed and minted on gold plated, sterling silver, 1-inch (25-mm) medallions. The crew carried a number of these medallions into space to give to their families and friends. The same design was imprinted on the cover of Gus Grissom's book, GEMINI, and John Young was seen wearing the Molly Brown logo as a patch on his flightsuit as late as 1981.
The name "Molly Brown" was chosen by Grissom as a reference to the sinking of Liberty Bell 7; NASA officials found the slightly sarcastic reference embarrassing, and astronauts were not allowed to name their spacecraft again until Apollo 9 when for the first time, two spacecraft would be operating independently as part of the same mission.
- On The Shoulders of Titans: A History of Project Gemini: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4203/cover.htm
- Spaceflight Mission Patches: http://www.genedorr.com/patches/Intro.html
- Astronaut John W. Young website: http://www.johnwyoung.com
- Gemini 3 page on A Field Guide To American Spacecraft: http://aesp.nasa.okstate.edu/fieldguide/pages/gemini/gt-3.html