Launch from Cape Canaveral; landing near
Grand-Turks-Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The spacecraft was named Molly
, 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
. For the first time, there were two astronauts on board and
became the first in spaceflight history, who flew
twice. His first mission was the ballistic flight of
The main goal of this flight was, to test the maneuverable Gemini
. 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
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.
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
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
cracked his faceplate (made of plexiglas) on the
control panel in front of him, John
faceplate was scratched.