The Gemini 3 mission was part of the 10 mission Gemini program that would test mission procedures, spacecraft maneuverability, and equipment scheduled for use in the Apollo program. This was the first two-manned mission for the US space program and the first manned Gemini mission. The Gemini spacecraft was also the first appearance of an on-board computer.
Launch of Gemini 3
The launch took place at LC-19 launch site on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on 23 March 1965. The Titan II two-stage rocket was used to get the Gemini spacecraft to orbit. The Titan II was chosen over the space shuttle because it could get the spacecraft to orbit 2 minutes and 36 seconds faster. The rocket was modified from the original Titan II design to get the Gemini spacecraft into circular polar low-Earth orbit.
Gemini 3 Crew
Virgil “Gus” Grissom was chosen for the Command Pilot position, he had previously been to space on the second Project Mercury flight. Grissom began his flight career in 1944 with the United States Army Air Forces during WWII. John Young was the Pilot, the Gemini 3 mission was his first spaceflight. Young began flight training in 1954 as a United States Navy helicopter pilot.
Gemini 3 Mission
The Gemini program began with the goal of preparing the US and NASA for manned lunar exploration. The Gemini 3 mission primary objective was testing the Gemini spacecraft. After the first orbit, Gus Grissom began the 1 minute, 14 second burn of the Orbit Attitude and Maneuvering System engines to complete the first orbital maneuver in a manned spacecraft. The orbit changed from 161.2 by 224.2 kilometers to 158 by 169 kilometers. The crew completed 3 low-Earth orbits. The mission duration was 4 hours, 52 minutes, and 31 seconds.
Gemini 3 Key Accomplishments
- First orbital maneuver by manned spacecraft
- First manned reentry where spacecraft could change touchdown point
- First manned mission in Gemini Program
- First US two-manned spaceflight
- Ninth manned US spaceflight
- 17th manned spaceflight globally