Monday, April 6, 2009

45 years since Gemini 1

On April 8, 1964, the unmanned Gemini 1 was launched. It was the first test of the Gemini-Titan spacecraft and launch vehicle combination. The Titan II was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that was being adapted for use with a manned spacecraft. Gemini 1 carried a load of instrumentation to measure performance and ballast to simulate the weight of two astronauts. There was no intent to recover the spacecraft. Indeed, the heat shield had holes drilled into it to ensure that the vehicle burned up on reentry.

This Mission Control Center badge was issued to G. Merritt Preston, who at the time was Chief of Preflight Operations for Gemini. Shown below are photos from President Kennedy's tour of the Cape in November 1963, one week before he was assassinated. These two photos were taken in front of the actual Gemini 1 spacecraft. The first photo shows, from left: George Low (Chief of Manned Spaceflight), President Kennedy, Gordon Cooper, Gus Grissom, and Preston Merritt. The other photo shows a wider view of the dignitaries gathered around Gemini 1.

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