Gemini 1 was an uncrewed orbital test of the Titan 2 launch vehicle, the Gemini spacecraft structural integrity, and the launch vehicle-spacecraft
compatibility. The test covered all phases through the orbital insertion
phase. Other objectives were to check out launch vehicle-spacecraft
launch heating conditions, launch vehicle performance, launch vehicle
flight control system switch-over circuits, launch vehicle orbit insertion
accuracy, and the malfunction detection system. This was the first
production Gemini spacecraft and launch vehicle.
Launch of Gemini 1 took place at 11:00:01 a.m. EST (16:00:01.69 UT) from Complex 19. Six minutes after launch, the Titan 2 booster placed the Gemini spacecraft and the attached 2nd stage in a 160.5 x 320.6 km orbit with a period of 89.3 minutes. An excess speed of 22.5 km/hr sent the spacecraft 33.6 km higher than planned. Mission plans did not include separation of spacecraft from the 3.05 meter diameter, 5.8 meter long Titan stage 2, both orbited as a unit. The planned mission included only three orbits and ended about 4 hours 50 minutes after launch with the third pass over Cape Kennedy. The spacecraft was tracked until it reentered the atmosphere and disintegrated on the 64th orbital pass over the southern Atlantic on April 12. The systems functioned well within planned tolerances and the mission was deemed a successful test.
Spacecraft and Subsystems
The Gemini spacecraft was a cone-shaped capsule consisting of two components, a reentry module and an adaptor module. The adaptor module made up the base of the spacecraft. It was a truncated cone 228.6 cm high, 304.8 cm in diameter
at the base and 228.6 cm at the upper end where it attached to the base of the
reentry module. The re-entry module consisted of a truncated cone which
decreased in diameter from 228.6 cm at the base to 98.2 cm, topped by a short
cylinder of the same diameter and then another truncated cone decreasing to a
diameter of 74.6 cm at the flat top. The reentry module was 345.0 cm high,
giving a total height of 573.6 cm for the Gemini spacecraft.
The adaptor module was an externally skinned, stringer framed structure, with magnesium stringers and an aluminum alloy frame. The adaptor was composed of two parts, an equipment section at the base and a retrorocket section at the top.
The reentry module consisted mainly of the pressurized cabin designed to hold the
two Gemini astronauts. Two instrumentation pallets were mounted in place of the
couches which would normally hold the astronauts. The pallets carried some 180
kg of pressure transducers, temperature sensors, and accelerometers. Separating
the reentry module from the retrorocket section of the adaptor at its base was a
curved silicone elastomer ablative heat shield. The module was composed
predominantly of titanium and nickle-alloy with beryllium shingles. Dummy
packages and ballast was used to simulate normal spacecraft weight and
configuration for systems not required for this flight.
The Gemini program was designed as a bridge between the Mercury and Apollo programs,
primarily to test equipment and mission procedures in Earth orbit and to train
astronauts and ground crews for future Apollo missions. The general objectives
of the program included: long duration flights in excess of of the requirements of
a lunar landing mission; rendezvous and docking of two vehicles in Earth orbit;
the development of operational proficiency of both flight and ground crews; the
conduct of experiments in space; extravehicular operations; active control of
reentry flight path to achieve a precise landing point; and onboard orbital
navigation. Each Gemini mission carried two astronauts into Earth orbit for
periods ranging from 5 hours to 14 days. The program consisted of 10 crewed
launches, 2 uncrewed launches, and 7 target vehicles, at a total cost of
approximately 1,280 million dollars.