The Gemini program consisted of 2 unmanned and 10 manned missions launched between 1964 and 1966. The program tested and proved various systems required to achieve America’s goal of landing men on the Moon before 1970.
Gemini launches drew hundreds of thousands of spectators who were awed by the roar, flame, and smoke of the big Titan II booster. Viewers clogged the highways and camped by roadsides. Millions of others watched launchings on television, and the astronauts received tumultuous welcomes on their return.
Gemini space capsules (named for the astrological sign Gemini, meaning twins) held two astronauts.
Twelve missions between April 8, 1964 (Gemini I) and November 11, 1966 (Gemini XII)
End of Mission
Twelve missions between April 12, 1964 (Gemini I) and November 15, 1966 (Gemini XII)
- Test the endurance of astronauts and equipment over a period of two weeks.
- Rendezvous and dock with an orbiting vehicle, then maneuver the two spacecraft as one unit.
- Perform extravehicular activities (EVA) or “spacewalks,” and accomplish needed tasks during the EVA.
- Safely re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and land at a pre-selected location.
Achieved nearly 2000 man-hours in space and developed the rendezvous and docking techniques essential for the Apollo program. Went to altitudes of more than 800 nautical miles and proved the feasibility of precise space maneuvers. Early difficulties with EVA paved the way for the smoothly working EVA systems used later on the Moon. Gemini VII showed that durations up to two weeks were possible without serious medical problems.