NASA Gemini 6 and 7 rendezvous in Earth orbit

Flying the Gusmobile is a great article on the Gemini capsule, published by Air and Space Smithsonian.

The Gemini capsule was fondly known as the Gus mobile in honor of Gus Grissom, who played a major role in its design. Gemini was actually sized for Gus Grissom, who was the shortest astronaut at the time. As a result, many of the other astronauts found it a tight fit. Nevertheless, Gemini was the astronaut’s favorite capsule. Apollo, by contrast, was considered something of a lemon.

Contrary to popular belief, Gemini was not designed solely for missions in Low Earth Orbit. Jim Chamberlin, the chief designer for Gemini, intended for the capsule to go to the Moon. Unfortunately, NASA management would not allow that. Instead, it pushed forward with the defective Apollo capsule, which resulted in the deaths of three astronauts in the Apollo I fire.

In 2004, President George W. Bush announced that NASA would return to the Moon. This was to be done using a replica space capsule — “the first of its kind since Apollo.” The replica capsule, which NASA Administrator Mike Griffin dubbed “Apollo on steroids,” was later named Orion. The Gemini design, whose relative merits were well known to astronauts in the 1960’s, was not even considered.

That’s what happens when politicians run your space program.

Written by Astro1 on May 27th, 2013 , Space History

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