Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 13

Gemini 3

USA

 

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Launch, orbit and landing data

Launch date:  23.03.1965
Launch time:  14:24 UTC
Launch site:  Cape Canaveral
Launch pad:  LC-19
Altitude:  161 - 226 km
Inclination:  32.58°
Landing date:  23.03.1965
Landing time:  19:16 UTC
Landing site:  22° 26' N, 70° 51' W

walkout photo

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alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo

Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position Flight No. Duration Orbits
1  Grissom  Virgil Ivan "Gus"  Command Pilot 1 4h 52m 
2  Young  John Watts  PLT 1 4h 52m 

Crew seating arrangement

1  Grissom
2  Young

Backup Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Schirra  Walter Marty, Jr. "Wally"  Command Pilot
2  Stafford  Thomas Patten "Tom"  PLT

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Flight

Launch from Cape Canaveral; landing near Grand-Turks-Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The spacecraft was named Molly Brown. Virgil Grissom, hoping to avoid duplication of the experience with his Mercury flight in which the capsule sank after splashdown, named the Gemini 3 spacecraft Molly Brown, in a playful reference to the Broadway musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

Gemini 3 was the maiden flight of the new Gemini capsule. For the first time, there were two astronauts on board and Virgil Grissom became the first in spaceflight history, who flew twice. His first mission was the ballistic flight of Mercury 4. The main goal of this flight was, to test the 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. The astronauts 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 meters per second. The second burn was 45 minutes later when the orbital inclination was changed by 0.02 degrees. The last burn came during the third orbit when the perigee was lowered to 72 kilometers.

There were also three scientific experiments, which failed partly. The first was an experiment testing the Synergistic Effect 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 camera.

Interesting for the media was, that John Young had "smuggled" a sandwich into the spacecraft, which caught the problem, that the crumbs it released could have wreaked havoc with the crafts electronics, so the crew were reprimanded when they returned to Earth.

The crew manually landed their spacecraft in the Atlantic Ocean, thus performing the first controlled reentry. Unfortunately, they landed much farther from the landing zone than anticipated, about 97 km (60 miles) from the recovery ship USS Intrepid. They had to wait 30 minutes for the helicopters. On descent, the capsule shifted from a vertical to horizontal attitude under its parachutes. The change was so sudden that Gus Grissom cracked his faceplate (made of plexiglas) on the control panel in front of him, John Youngs faceplate was scratched.

Photos / Drawings

 

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Last update on November 25, 2014.