Notes and Documents
JAMES M. GRIMWOOD AND IVAN D. ERTEL*
S THE UNITED STATES' SECOND MANNED SPACE FLIGHT PROGRAM,
Project Gemini served as a bridge between the pioneering achieve-
ment of Project Mercury and the yet-to-be-realized lunar mission of
Project Apollo. Project Gemini spanned five years' time (December,
1961, through November, 1966), and included ten manned flights in-
volving sixteen different astronauts. Over 1900 man-hours of space
travel experience were accumulated in flights ranging from almost five
hours to nearly two weeks. Key objectives in the Gemini program, in-
cluding long-duration missions, rendezvous and docking with a target
vehicle in Earth orbit, and determination of the ability of man to func-
tion during an extended mission, were attacked in a step-by-step man-
ner after conducting only two unmanned development flights. The
accomplishment of these objectives served in the learning process nec-
essary for application to the Apollo lunar landing mission.
Over Texas on the first orbit of Gemini III, Virgil I. Grissom and
John W. Young became the first men to modify the orbital path of a
manned spacecraft, a maneuver popularly termed the "Texas burn"
(March 23, 1965). Gemini IV extended knowledge to man's reaction
in the spatial environment to four days (June 3-7, 1965), during
which time the crew, James A. McDivitt and Edward H. White II,
performed eleven inflight experiments, the most dramatic being the
"space walk" or extravehicular activity of Astronaut White. During
*Mr. Grimwood, co-author of This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury, is the
Manned Spacecraft Center historian. Mr. Ertel, Manned Spacecraft Center assistant
historian, is the author of Gemini Program.
'Material for this article was largely drawn from Manned Spacecraft Center Fact
Sheet 291: Gemini Program Series. These papers were prepared after each manned
mission in the Gemini program by the Manned Spacecraft Center Historical Office,
using flight mission reports, flight plans, press kits, air-to-ground transcripts, mission
commentary, briefing transcripts, news conference transcripts, and astronauts' interviews.
Some of the impressions of the astronauts were drawn from an article by Alex Faulkner,
"Are Astronauts Afraid?" London Daily Telegraph, November 24, 1967. The photographs
are courtesy of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Manned Spacecraft
Center, Houston, Texas.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117145/. Accessed May 4, 2016.