Gemini Throughout History, the Idea

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This made it possible for the Gemini to effectively dock and perform the necessary requirements for traveling to the moon.

Evidence of this can be seen by looking no further than comments from Hacker (1977) who said, "Gemini neared its operational phase, however, things were different. Apollo managers and engineers quickly sought help in various areas. James Church wanted to learn about Gemini program control experience, especially when the Gemini people succeeded in controlling program costs. Calvin Perrine asked for information on ground test programs as the Gemini development and test experts began meeting delivery schedules more successfully. Rolf Lanzkron and Joseph Loftus were anxious to learn anything from the Gemini crews that might be applicable to Apollo flight problems. Even North American, the Apollo command module manufacturer, thought some of Gemini's checkout experience might be helpful. Both North American and Grumman (the lunar module builder) had already requested manufacturing assistance from the Gemini spacecraft contractor, at one time causing William Lee, a deputy manager in the Apollo office, to caution them not to convert McDonnell from a spacecraft manufacturer into an educational institution. Besides the manufacturing and testing procedures, Gemini came to grips with several specific systems, common in one form or another to Apollo, that were new to space flight operations. Spacecraft thrusters powerful enough to alter the flight path several times and fuel cells to generate electrical energy to run the systems represented particularly impressive advances in aerospace technology. In addition, Gemini spacecraft were equipped with a computer and a radar system to aid in solving the rendezvous problem. All of these systems went through troubled development and qualification periods and, in most cases, required extensive redesign. More often than not these difficulties came to the attention of NASA's top administrators. Problem-solving boards, headed by senior officials, were appointed and armed with characters to draw upon organizations and facilities in government and industry to bring about solutions. Those areas that yielded most stubbornly were aired at Gemini and Apollo executive meetings attended by NASA administrators and their staffs and company presidents and their aides - the people in charge who could bring pressures and resources to bear to fix thrusters, fuel cells, Agenas, or other recalcitrant systems." These insights are showing how Gemini was focused on quality and simplicity. The breakthroughs that occurred created a foundation that made the Apollo missions successful. (Hacker, 1977)

Development & manufacturing

The manufacturer of the Gemini was McDonald Douglas (a.k.a. Lockheed Martin). The contract was originally awarded to firm for $161 million. However, cost overruns brought the total expenses up to $242.70 million. What caused these amounts to consistently increase was the focus on making continuing improvements during its development. This occurred by enhancing the design which increased the functionality of the spacecraft to include: the radar system and an on board computer. (Hacker, 1977)

At the same time, McDonald Douglas was studying how astronauts were training to prepare for spaceflights. This meant that there was a focus on creating a ship that could meet all of their needs and deal with any kind of potential adversities. Over the course of time, what was learned during this process helped to increase the costs associated with designing and manufacturing the Gemini. (Hacker, 1977)

A good example of this can be seen with observations from Hacker who said, "A major part of crew training for Gemini depended on simulating in great detail every aspect of a mission, to expose the astronauts before they left the ground to anything they might meet during a flight. The basic device was a flight trainer, a precise duplicate of the real spacecraft, in which crews could fly a complete simulated mission from launch through touchdown, seeing through its windows what they would see in flight, hearing the noises - even feeling the vibrations - they could expect. There were to be two flight trainers, one in Houston and the other at Cape Canaveral, each hooked up to mission control and remote displays to form a complete mission simulator. Training equipment and test articles together, increased in detail and enlarged in scope, came to just under $39 million in McDonnell's cost proposal. McDonnell also needed money to cover its roles in mission planning and launch operations support and for spare parts and checkout gear, to name only some of the more costly items. And all this aside from the expense of developing and building the spacecraft ($242.7 million), which alone exceeded the budget ($240.5 million)." This is illustrating how the continuing amounts of research and development increased the final costs of the Gemini. (Hacker, 1977)

These expenses had an impact on their ability to design a spacecraft that could meet the current and future needs of astronauts. In the short-term, this meant that the original budget proposal was too low. However, over longer periods of time, is when these costs had an impact on the success of the mission by giving pilots greater amounts of flexibility. This helped to make it easier for NASA to conduct testing and create an effective strategy for going to moon. (Hacker, 1977)

These factors are showing how the Gemini project was considered to be a ground breaking effort. This is because the spacecraft included features that made it more maneuverable, state of the art and durable. During flight, this helped to make it useful in conducting docking and other missions. In many ways one could argue, that the long-term expenses were worth it. This is based upon what was learned and how this helped to advance the Apollo moon project. (Hacker, 1977)

Summary & Conclusions

Based on the review, it is clear that the Gemini program was worth the costs, resources and time involved. This is because what was learned during the project helped to enable America to reach the moon by the end of the decade (which was President Kennedy's goal). In many aspects, one could effectively point out that this was not a waste of taxpayer funds. Instead, the knowledge that was received helped to advanced space exploration and scientific discovery. To this day what was learned is providing a better understanding of the world and universe.

Evidence of this can be seen with comments from Hacker who said, "Gemini's lessons and its people, some in leadership roles, were significant factors in Apollo's recovery. Twenty-two months elapsed before America put men into space again, yet only nine months after that - in July 1969 - two astronauts walked on the Moon and ten more soon followed in their steps. Gemini had contributed its share to man's quest for a better understanding and use of his environment. As it developed the gaze was not wholly outward to the stars. Beginning with Gemini's manned missions, scientists gradually realized that photographs of Earth brought back by the astronauts could serve as a valuable tool to help identify and husband Earth's dwindling resources. Perhaps future historians will see that as Gemini's most lasting contribution." These insights are showing how the Gemini project was not a waste of time or many. On the contrary, it was something that helped to advance human knowledge and understanding. The long-term effects from the research are still being utilized by scientists to this day for space travel and understanding our world. (Hacker, 1977)

A good example of this is the International Space Station. To go to the facility requires a spaceship docking with it. These techniques were refined and perfected during the Gemini program. Moreover, the ability to remain in space for long periods of time and its effects on the human body were studied continually. This built a foundation of knowledge for understanding the long-term impacts of space travel. Had it not been for the breakthroughs in the project, the world may still be struggling to go to the moon and learning about how to achieve these objectives. Therefore, the long-term costs and challenges associated with Gemini are justified. (Shayler, 2001)

References

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Shayler, D. (2001). Gemini. London: Springer.