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  Appreciating Project Gemini

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Author Topic:   Appreciating Project Gemini
Beau08
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From: Peoria, AZ United States
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posted 05-01-2012 10:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Beau08   Click Here to Email Beau08     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have been a fan of manned spaceflight for most of my life (44). I have only within the last two years or so become a small time collector and become more interested in the project/mission specifics. Although Apollo is the big dog in the room and rightfully so, I have become a fantastic fan of all that was Project Gemini.

The technology curve and bold steps in Gemini blow my mind. Not to mention the men willing to strap into a machine that just months before failed regularly.

I would love to hear your thoughts on Gemini and/or experiences with it or the people.

music_space
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posted 05-01-2012 11:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Make sure you read (or procure a printed copy of) On the Shoulders of Titans: A History of Project Gemini.

Lasv3
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posted 05-01-2012 02:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another Gemini must-read is a book by David M. Harland "How NASA Learned To Fly In Space".

I was a high school student in 1965 and 1966 and those years – besides enjoying the happy teenage life – are bound with Project Gemini for me. There was something going on in space and the highlights were the Ed White's EVA, unforgettable rendezvous of Gemini 6 and 7, first docking with Agena and subsequent dramatical early return of Gemini 8, hunting the "angry aligator", artificial gravity experiments with tethered Agenas, and a lot more. And those beautiful photos released after the flights! Plus the benefit of being able to watch the Austrian TV with live coverages of lift-offs and recoveries.

Project Gemini will remain in my memory as most exciting achievement building the bridge to the Moon.

Headshot
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posted 05-01-2012 05:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gemini was the program that put the U.S. on the map as a space-faring nation. It was a very exciting two years that I remember vividly.

I would recommend reading Michael Collins' book Carrying The Fire and Buzz Aldrin's Return to Earth for some very good stories about Gemini. Other books worth pursuing are Gene Cernan's Last Man on the Moon and Tom Stafford's We Have Capture.

One day I hope to publish a book that I am writing about the Gemini VIII mission, which was the first docking mission and our first real emergency in space.

bwhite1976
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posted 05-01-2012 06:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bwhite1976   Click Here to Email bwhite1976     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Headshot, I will certainly pick up your book if/when it is published. Sounds good.

I remember reading On the Shoulders of Titans, back in college. I was supposed to be studying for some useless thing and instead spent huge amounts of time reading all of the NASA publications that the library had. When I came to On the Shoulders... it was the discovery of space adventure of the first degree; Anti-gravity tests, EVA's, space emergencies,endurance missions, simultaneous missions. Every mission was more amazing that the last, and all of it was within the span of just a few short years.

I am interested in all of the missions and programs, but Gemini holds a special interest for me. For some reason it makes me think of the Wild West (more so than Mercury for some reason) and Gemini 5's patch with the Conestoga Wagon just sums it up perfectly.

GoesTo11
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posted 05-01-2012 08:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Born in 1975, I obviously have no personal memories of Gemini, but I've always felt that it got rather short shrift in the broad scholarship of the space program.

This was perhaps sort of inevitable. Gemini lacked the air of pioneering, Right-Stuff, Cold War derring-do that fed the mythology of the Mercury Seven, and it couldn't approach the grandeur or the epic aura of Apollo. Gemini was the bridge between the two.

But man, what a bridge! Gemini took the US from just basically demonstrating that we could put a guy in space and get him back alive to having the confidence, birthed through experience, that we could perform the tasks and maneuvers (Rendezvous, docking, EVA, etc.) that made Apollo possible...and did it all with ten manned missions in less than 2 years.

I'm a child of the Shuttle era, but Gemini has always had a special fascination for me as well, maybe in part because history has never given that program and its people quite their due.

spaced out
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posted 05-02-2012 01:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I guess things might look different if you lived through the Mercury-Gemini era but for me looking back on it now the Mercury flights were necessary but very limited steps. Two suborbital flights when the Soviets had gone straight to orbit then finally some basic orbital missions. The Mercury astronauts were brave and skilled but the limits of the spacecraft meant they were essentially playing catchup with the USSR.

Gemini, on the other hand, was an amazingly capable spacecraft that paved the way to the moon. Spacewalks, long duration flights, orbital rendezvous, docking, all these techniques were worked out from scratch and perfected in a series of amazing flights in an incredibly short time.

Project Gemini was in incredible achievement.

garymilgrom
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posted 05-02-2012 07:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I also remember Gemini clearly. The photos printed in Life magazine were a real draw to me as a young teen. I had an English teacher in Grade 8 who was a space geek and played the 16mm mission films I requested from NASA by mail (I had to mail them back).

A good book on the Titan launch program behind Gemini is Two Into the Blue.

Headshot
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posted 05-02-2012 07:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What a lot of people who weren't old enough to remember the Gemini flights don't recall is the way the television networks evolved thier coverage.

Mercury was fairly static, they could show the rocket on the pad, file footage of the brave U.S. astronaut in training, and a map of the world with a moving dot showing where the spacecraft was, but not much else. The talking heads ruled Mercury coverage.

Gemini actually DID things in space. For example, the astronauts stayed up a long time. With Gemini IV the networks wisely stopped providing continuous (and sometimes inane) coverage and had news updates every half hour or hour.

They had to show EVAs. Since there were no television transmissions from Gemini, they either used marionettes on strings or stuck some poor schmuck in an ill-fitting spacesuit, dangled him from some wires in front of a black background, and had him flop around trying to demonstrate what they thought the actual spacewalker was doing at the moment.

Explaining the concept of rendezvous in space was something they never got quite right (as I recall). They did not rely on animation they way we do today, and resorted to toy trains (one with a Gemini model and another with an Agena model) on circular train tracks with track switches used to represent the various OAMS course correction.

Sometimes this stuff worked and sometimes it didn't ... but it was EXCITING TIMES!

Fra Mauro
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posted 05-02-2012 07:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember the late Frank McGee on NBC using the track with the Gemini and Agena. Gemini was a great program. We are starting to talk like WWII vets--just memories!

Headshot
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posted 05-02-2012 08:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Was McGee NBC's main science anchor at the time? I remember ABC used Jules Bergman and CBS couldn't used anyone but Walter Cronkite. Can anyone recall other television personalities who broadcast Gemini missions?

Lasv3
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posted 05-02-2012 09:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In Austrian TV it was Dr. Herbert Pichler, who also worked for NASA in Wernher von Braun team for some time.

He is still holding a record (at least in Austria) covering live Apollo 11 moon landing and moonwalk for more than 28 hours without a break. And I am a witness, I watched it live, just I had a nap between the landing and the moonwalk start

ea757grrl
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posted 05-02-2012 11:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NBC's versatile Frank McGee anchored or co-anchored a lot of that network's coverage of space shots. Huntley and Brinkley were often busy with other things or couldn't sustain the Cronkite-level interest needed in it, but McGee covered the daylights out of it (and once admitted on the air he found it fascinating). McGee also had the ability to hold the air for a long, long time, as demonstrated when he held the desk during the majority of NBC's coverage of the Kennedy assassination. Peter Hackes also frequently took part in NBC's space coverage, as did Roy Neal. There were some others, but McGee and Hackes are the ones I most often think of.

Jules Bergman was ABC's go-to guy for space coverage, of course, and stayed with it until his health prevented him from going any further (some of the coverage from late in his career is painful to watch because it was obvious at times he was ailing).

Cronkite was front-and-center on any space shot, and had help from virtually the full range of CBS correspondents. Those most often associated with space coverage include Bruce Morton, Nelson Benton, Bill Stout, Charles von Fremd, and Dallas Townsend (frequently deployed with the press pool aboard the recovery ship).

Some of the network coverage of Gemini is up on YouTube if you look around a bit, and it's fascinating. One of my favorite clips is from an EVA simulation on CBS, where the door on the Gemini mock-up malfunctions rather spectacularly.

If you want really detailed reading, look for a master's thesis titled "Televising the Space Age" by A.R. Hogan, completed in 2005. It was available at one time online as a PDF, and if you can deal with the scholarly tone there's very detailed tables in each listing just about anything you'd want to know about the CBS coverage. To me, at least, it's nothing short of fascinating.

schnappsicle
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posted 05-02-2012 01:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My Dad was in the Air Force, so I was forced to watch a lot of coverage of the Gemini missions on TV. The lack of onboard television made those early missions rather borhing to watch save a few choice examples.

The basic thing about Gemini is that every mission was a first of some kind. There was always someting happening that had never been done before. That's what made those missions so exciting.

I was in the second grade when Ed White "walked" in space. I remember my teacher telling us about it in the days before the launch. We had a TV in the room and "watched" the EVA. I remember being quite excited by all the talk about what was happening at the time. A few weeks later, I picked up a Life magazine and saw the images McDivitt took. I was totally blown away by the beauty and awesome splendor of the photos. I knew then what I wanted to do with my life. Unfortunately, I wasn't cut out for the military, so I'm left with collecting space photos instead of taking them. Gemini 4 was also notable for attempting the first rendezvous when they tried to maintain formation with their expended booster. McDivitt did as he was trained to do, but every time he thrust toward the booster, he'd get further away. That was the single most valuable lesson of the Gemini missions. McDivitt's error caused NASA to rewrite it's rendezvous procedures.

As you know, Gemini 6 was originally scheduled to perform the first docking in space, but their Agena failed to reach orbit. The great thing about NASA in those days was their ability and willingness to improvize. Instead of scrubbing the mission, they turned it into a rendezvous mission. I lived in Tampa at the time and I saw Gemini 6 launch into space during my walk to school. That was a huge thrill for me. My heart still pounds with excitement just thinking about it. I was especially thrilled with Gemini 7's 2 weeks in space. I'm still amazed that anyone could live in that small a space for 2 entire weeks. Borman & Lovell became my heros that December, not only for putting up with each other, but for the remarkable job they did in sticking it out to the bitter end under grueling circumstances.

Gemini 8 was the one that turned me from an admirer to a full-flegged space lunatic. I came home from school and turned on my TV only to hear the astronauts were in danger. Naturally, I had no clue what was happening, but Walter Chronkite managed to fill me in enough to know that what was happening wasn't good. A short time later, my father came home from work and we sat together well into the night until both astronauts were safely aboard the recovery ship.

I think the only people who overlook Gemini are the ones who are too young to remember those missions. For people like me who lived through them, they were the high points of the mid 60's. Without them, we would never have landed on the moon.

teachspace
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posted 05-02-2012 01:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for teachspace   Click Here to Email teachspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When I teach my students about the Gemini Program, I refer to it as the bridge between Mercury and Apollo. I tell them that without Gemini, there would have been no moon landing as we know it. It was a spectacular program that I lived through in my early teens.

Rick Boos
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posted 05-02-2012 08:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Boos   Click Here to Email Rick Boos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Roy Neil also covered the flights for NBC.

FFrench
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posted 05-02-2012 11:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lasv3:
Another Gemini must-read is a book by David M. Harland "How NASA Learned To Fly In Space".

I'll definitely second that - a great read that used some little-touched sources and images to bring the missions to life.

The subject of this thread is one of the reasons why Colin and I wrote In the Shadow of the Moon - it's a comparatively overlooked program, with some of the best stories, and we enjoyed talking to many of the Gemini astronauts first-hand to capture them in print.

ColinBurgess
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posted 05-03-2012 02:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And I'll second Francis' comments. Gemini was undoubtedly one of the most exciting periods in spaceflight history, with launches being conducted every two months, new and increasingly audacious agendas on each mission, and steadily pulling ahead in the monumental Space Race against the Soviet Union. In fact the shroud of secrecy behind the Soviet space program only added to the raw excitement of that time, as no one knew what space spectacular they would pull off next in an attempt to overshadow U.S. space plans. I recall many very late nights as I listened to each Gemini mission unfold on a little transistor radio while hiding beneath my bedclothes so as not to wake my two less-than-enthusiastic brothers.

garymilgrom
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posted 05-03-2012 07:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Reading (and enjoying) this thread brought back an old memory - in grade 3 or 4 I submitted the word "extravehicular" for our spelling tests. My class mates were not overjoyed.

Talk about a space geek at an early age....

Peter downunder
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posted 05-03-2012 07:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Peter downunder   Click Here to Email Peter downunder     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My first astronaut book was "The Astronauts" published by World Book Encyclopedia in 1967. It has a lot of 'gee whiz' prose in it, but heaps of terrific photos. It focused on Gemini with the last chapter on the Apollo 1 fire.

I can't remember much about the space program prior to getting the book. But man, it started a fascination that got me into the RAN Fleet Air Arm (sadly, I didn't have even a hint of the right stuff) and after leaving the Navy, have lived the space program vicariously ever since.

Beau08
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posted 05-03-2012 08:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Beau08   Click Here to Email Beau08     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just started reading "On the Shoulders of Titans". Great so far. I never knew there was an original ship designated as "Nova" prior to Apollo...

Beau08
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posted 05-03-2012 08:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Beau08   Click Here to Email Beau08     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What great stories above by the way. Makes me just a little jealous that I didn't get to experience the excitement of seeing these missions unfold live.

We used to have greats like Stafford, Cooper, Collins, Scott and Armstrong... now we have Snookie.

MCroft04
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posted 05-03-2012 08:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of my favorite things to do is visit the Gemini 9 spacecraft at KSC and reconstruct Geno's EVA from hell. You can get up and close and personal with the spacecraft. What a nifty spacecraft!

Headshot
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posted 05-04-2012 09:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is an interesting passage in Aldrin's book, Return to Earth, describing a discussion he and Cernan had about how to conduct an EVA. Long story short, Cernan planned to use the "brute force" philosophy during his Gemini 9A EVA, while Aldrin tried to convince him that strength along with quick movements would not work and that using slow and steady movements would be the best way to proceed. Well Cernan tried it his way and failed, but Aldrin's philosophy is still used today.

perineau
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posted 05-04-2012 11:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for perineau   Click Here to Email perineau     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember getting up around 4 a.m. in California to watch the several-hour long pre "lift-off" coverage of each mission. On more than one occasion my folks thought a burglar had busted into our house...

Jay Chladek
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posted 05-04-2012 03:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When I was growing up and had my first exposure to books on the space program (I didn't watch a space event live until the Enteprise ALT tests when I was 6 and STS-1's launch at age 10), I was immediately attracted to books about the Gemini program. Sure, I had the toy Apollo rocket when I was a kid (the multi-colored one with the spring loaded top that could launch when triggered), but Gemini just looked cool to me.

Here is this capsule, which was a sporty two seater with two windows facing front. It was almost like a sleek looking fighter plane, but without wings. Apollo was indeed a more capable spacecraft, but it just looked kind of bloated in its shape (be aware this is not a criticism of the programs, just purely the asthetics of a 41 year old trying to recollect what might have made his young mind attracted to Gemini).

So to me, a Gemini LOOKED like a sleek spacecraft. It didn't have this ungainly looking LM contraption bolted to the front of it like Apollo. Sure, Apollo could do more, but Gemini could do a lot and look good at the same time. I am kind of amazed that anyone would be willing to spend 8 to 14 days stuck inside one of those things though, let alone two people. Having Cooper and Conrad, then Borman and Lovell getting stuck with that kind of duty, I had to feel for them. But flying maybe a three to four day mission with an Agena docking and perhaps an EVA, sure, sign me up! Get me at the controls of that little beastie!

So, even to this day, if shuttle is my favorite space program, Gemini remains a close second. Of course, having access to a 1/24 scale model of the Gemini from Revell doesn't hurt either.

astroborg
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posted 05-08-2012 01:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astroborg   Click Here to Email astroborg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Don't neglect the Springer-Praxis book: Gemini Steps to the Moon by David Shayler.

I grew up during the space race, and especially liked my 1/48 model Gemini capsule, and the mission patches. Those were the action-packed barnstorming days with the Gusmobile!

It's also a bummer that Mike Collins' camera floated away... what interesting photos we were deprived of.

David Carey
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posted 06-13-2012 12:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Carey   Click Here to Email David Carey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I stumbled upon a nice Gemini-specific compilation that appeared earlier this year in The Atlantic.

schnappsicle
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posted 06-13-2012 01:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While others may forget Gemini, I never will. Those missions were the biggest reason I'm glad I grew up in the 60's. I wouldn't trade those years for any other years in the history of mankind. The great thing about the Gemini missions is that every one of them broke new ground (something that had never been done before). That's why I have a signed photo from every Gemini mission in my photo collection. The things we take for granted today were pioneered by the Gemini astronauts. That's what made those missions so exciting to me. Even though I was only in elementary school, I always rushed home and parked myself in front of the television every time we launched another mission. I wanted to know what they were doing and if they were successful. Most of all, I wanted to make sure they landed safely when it was all over. I lived in Florida at the times. I remember walking to school one morning and seeing Gemini 6 head into space. It's a sight I'll never forget.

Gemini got me hooked on the space program with all of their incredible photos and accomplishments. There was so much to learn before going to the moon, and we did it all in just 10 missions. I'm still amazed that we were able to do it all.

Beau08
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posted 06-13-2012 09:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Beau08   Click Here to Email Beau08     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thought I would share my progression of space vehicles in model rocket form. Couldn't afford the vintage Gemini Titan by Estes so made this one from scratch.

Whizzospace
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posted 06-15-2012 05:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Whizzospace   Click Here to Email Whizzospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Too young to have paid attention during the actual mission coverage. But a personal thrill was sitting in a full scale Gemini model in the Pacific Science Center in Seattle around 1976. They had a large scale Moon globe suspended, and it showed clearly in the small Gemini windows. Knowing we weren't configured for landing, I flew a figure 8 lunar mission profile in my imagination.

Captain Apollo
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posted 06-19-2012 01:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Captain Apollo   Click Here to Email Captain Apollo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Google has LIFE magazine online with lots of Gemini stuff.

Lou Chinal
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posted 07-12-2012 04:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jodi, you bought back a lot of names from the past with this post. Yes, I remember the simulation with the door falling off on the Gemini. I thought it really happened.

Beau08
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posted 07-21-2012 08:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Beau08   Click Here to Email Beau08     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Have found some very interesting original NASA produced videos chronicling Gemini. Type into YouTube "Project Genimi status report" and there is a three part series of the early program by "Webdev17". There are also videos detailing individual Gemini missions.

Philip
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posted 07-22-2012 03:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe Gemini XI still holds the altitude record for manned mission in Earth orbit (Perigeum: 290 km Apogeum: 1370 km)

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