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June 3 1965 - Gemini 4 - History

June 3 1965 - Gemini 4 - History

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June 3 1965 - Gemini 4

During the flight of Gemini 4, launched on June 3, 1965, Edward White became the first American to walk in space. He spent 20 minutes outside the space craft.

The First U.S. Spacewalk - Gemini 4

Ed White made the United States' first spacewalk on 03 June 1965 during the Gemini 4 mission. The extra-vehicular activity (EVA) started at 19:45 UT (3:45 p.m. EDT) on the third orbit when White opened his hatch and used the hand-held manuevering oxygen-jet gun to push himself out of the capsule. The EVA started over the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii and lasted 23 minutes, ending over the Gulf of Mexico. Initially, White propelled himself to the end of the 8 meter tether and back to the spacecraft three times using the hand-held gun. After the first three minutes the fuel ran out and White manuevered by twisting his body and pulling on the tether. The photographs were taken by commander James McDivitt.

The first photograph of the EVA as Ed White backs away from the Gemini spacecraft over the Pacific Ocean northeast of Hawaii.

This photograph was taken early in the EVA over a cloud-covered Pacific Ocean. The maneuvering gun is visible in White's right hand.

Ed White in space as Gemini 4 passes over southern California.

To order hardcopy versions of any of the Gemini images above, contact the NSSDCA Request Office.

Gemini 4

Gemini 4 was the second crewed mission of the Gemini series and carried James McDivitt and Edward White on a 4-day, 62-orbit, 98-hr flight from June 3 to June 7, 1965. The mission included the first American spacewalk. The objective of the mission was to test the performance of the astronauts and capsule and to evaluate work procedures, schedules, and flight planning for an extended length of time in space. Secondary objectives included demonstration of extravehicular activity in space, conduct stationkeeping and rendezvous maneuvers, evaluate spacecraft systems, demonstrate the capability to make significant in-plane and out-of-plane maneuvers and use of the maneuvering system as a backup reentry system, and conduct 11 experiments.

Mission Profile

Gemini 4 was launched from Complex 19 at 10:15:59 a.m. EST (15:15:59.562 UT) and inserted into a 162.3 x 282.1 km Earth orbit at 10:22:05. The orbit was raised to 166 x 290 km during the first revolution to attempt a rendezvous with the second stage. This stationkeeping exercise was cancelled early in the second revolution after depletion of 42% of the fuel, it was determined that use of more fuel would jeopardize other mission objectives. White then donned special gear and pressurized his suit at 3.7 psi. McDivitt depressurized the cabin, bringing the pressure to zero at 2:33:35 p.m. EST, and the hatch was opened at 2:34. White stood up two minutes later and exited the spacecraft using a hand-held gas gun at 2:46, becoming the first American to walk in space. White was attached to the spacecraft by an 8 meter tether. The gas gun fuel supply was depleted in 3 minutes, after which White pulled on the tether and twisted his body to maneuver around the spacecraft. The extravehicular activity (EVA) lasted 23 minutes, after which White pulled himself back into the spacecraft.

Difficulty was encountered sealing the hatch, but working together the astronauts finally closed it, at 3:10 p.m. EST. Cabin repressurization began at 3:12:50. Drifting flight was maintained for the next 30 hours to conserve propellant. A computer malfunction on the 48th revolution made the planned computer-controlled reentry impossible. A zero-lift ballistic reentry, similar to that used by the Mercury program, was started at the beginning of revolution 62 with retrofire at 11:56:00 a.m. EST on June 7. Gemini 4 splashed down 16 minutes later at 12:12:11 in the western Atlantic, 27.73 N, 74.18 W, 81 km from the target. Total elapsed mission time was 97:56:12. The crew were recovered by helicopter and flown to the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Wasp at 1:09 p.m. and the capsule was recovered at 2:28 p.m.

The experiments performed during the mission were electrostatic charge (MSC-1), proton-electron spectrometer (MSC-2), triaxial magnetometer (MSC-3), two-color earth limb photos (MSC-4), inflight exerciser (M-3), inflight phonocardiogram (M-4), bone demineralization (M-6), synoptic terrain photos (S-5), synoptic weather photos (S-6), dim and twilight phenomena (S-28), radiation (D-8), and simple navigation (D-9). All experiemnts were performed successfully. All other objectives except the rendezvous and computer controlled reentry were achieved.

Spacecraft and Subsystems

The Gemini spacecraft was a cone-shaped capsule consisting of two components, a reentry module and an adaptor module. The adaptor module made up the base of the spacecraft. It was a truncated cone 228.6 cm high, 304.8 cm in diameter at the base and 228.6 cm at the upper end where it attached to the base of the reentry module. The re-entry module consisted of a truncated cone which decreased in diameter from 228.6 cm at the base to 98.2 cm, topped by a short cylinder of the same diameter and then another truncated cone decreasing to a diameter of 74.6 cm at the flat top. The reentry module was 345.0 cm high, giving a total height of 573.6 cm for the Gemini spacecraft.

The adaptor module was an externally skinned, stringer framed structure, with magnesium stringers and an aluminum alloy frame. The adaptor was composed of two parts, an equipment section at the base and a retrorocket section at the top. The equipment section held fuel and propulsion systems and was isolated from the retrorocket section by a fiber-glass sandwich honeycomb blast shield. The retrorocket section held the re-entry rockets for the capsule.

The reentry module consisted mainly of the pressurized cabin which held the two Gemini astronauts. Separating the reentry module from the retrorocket section of the adaptor at its base was a curved silicone elastomer ablative heat shield. The module was composed predominantly of titanium and nickle-alloy with beryllium shingles. At the narrow top of the module was the cylindrical reentry control system section and above this the rendezvous and recovery section which holds the reentry parachutes. The cabin held two seats equipped with emergency ejection devices, instrument panels, life support equipment, and equipment stowage compartments in a total pressurized volume of about 2.25 cubic meters. Two large hatches with small windows could be opened outward, one positioned above each seat.

Control, Propulsion, and Power

Attitude control was effected by two translation-maneuver hand controllers, an attitude controller, redundant horizon sensor sytems, and reentry control electronics, with guidance provided via an inertial measuring unit and radar system. The orbital attitude and maneuver system used a hypergolic propellant combination of monomethylhydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide supplied to the engines by a helium system pressurized at 2800 psi. Two 95 lb translation thrusters and eight 23 lb attitude thrusters were mounted along the bottom rim of the adaptor, and two 79 lb and 4 95 lb thrusters were mounted at the front of the adaptor. Power was supplied by 6 silver-zinc batteries to a 22- to 30-volt DC two-wire system. During reentry and post-landing power was supplied by four 45 amp-hr silver-zinc batteries.


Voice communications were performed at 296.9 MHz with an output power of 3 W. A backup transmitter-receiver at 15.016 MHz with an output power of 5 W was also available. Two antenna systems consisting of quarter-wave monopoles were used. Telemetry was transmitted via three systems, one for real time telemetry, one for recorder playback, and a spare. Each system was frequency-modulated with a minimum power of 2 W. Spacecraft tracking consisted of two C-band radar transponders and an acquisition-aid beacon. One transponder is mounted in the adaptor with a peak power output of 600 W to a slot antenna on the bottom of the adaptor. The other is in the reentry section, delivering 1000 W to three helical antennas mounted at 120 degree intervals just forward of the hatches. The acquisition-aid beacon was mounted on the adaptor and had a power of 250 mW.


At the time of reentry, the spacecraft would be maneuvered to the appropriate orientation and equipment adaptor section would be detached and jettisoned, exposing the retrorocket module. The retrorockets consisted of four spherical-case polysulfide ammonium perchlorate solid-propellant motors mounted near the center of the reentry adaptor module, each with 11,070 N thrust. They would fire to initiate the spacecraft reentry into the atmosphere, with attitude being maintained by a reentry control system of 16 engines, each with 5.2 N thrust. The retrorocket module would then be jettisonned, exposing the heat shield at the base of the reentry module. Along with the ablative heat shield, thermal protection during reentry was provided by thin Rene 41 radiative shingles at the base of the module and beryllium shingles at the top. Beneath the shingles was a layer of MIN-K insulation and thermoflex blankets. At an altitude of roughly 15,000 meters the astronauts would deploy a 2.4 meter drogue chute from the rendezvous and recovery section. At 3230 meters altitude the crew releases the drogue which extracts the 5.5 meter pilot parachute. The rendezvous and recovery section is released 2.5 seconds later, deploying the 25.6 meter main ring-sail parachute which is stored in the bottom of the section. The spacecraft is then rotated from a nose-up to a 35 degree angle for water landing. At this point a recovery beacon is activated, transmitting via an HF whip antenna mounted near the front of the reentry module.

Gemini Program

The Gemini program was designed as a bridge between the Mercury and Apollo programs, primarily to test equipment and mission procedures in Earth orbit and to train astronauts and ground crews for future Apollo missions. The general objectives of the program included: long duration flights in excess of of the requirements of a lunar landing mission rendezvous and docking of two vehicles in Earth orbit the development of operational proficiency of both flight and ground crews the conduct of experiments in space extravehicular operations active control of reentry flight path to achieve a precise landing point and onboard orbital navigation. Each Gemini mission carried two astronauts into Earth orbit for periods ranging from 5 hours to 14 days. The program consisted of 10 crewed launches, 2 uncrewed launches, and 7 target vehicles, at a total cost of approximately 1,280 million dollars.

[June 8, 1965] A Walk in the Sun (the flight of Gemini 4)

by Gideon Marcus

The second age of American human spaceflight has begun. Until this month, the US’ steps into space have been tentative. The longest Mercury flight lasted just one day, and at that, stretched its capabilities to the limit. The first crewed Gemini, launched in March, completed just three orbits — the same duration as Glenn and Carpenter’s Mercury flights. In the last five years, the Soviets, on the other hand, hit the day-long mark in 1961 with Titov’s Vostok 2 mission, and since then have launched two dual Vostok flights, a three-man Voskhod mission, and in March, conducted the first walk in space during the two-man Voskhod 2. The current “winner” of the Space Race was evident.

But on June 3, 1965, Gemini 4 launched into orbit, and everything is different now.

Dress Rehearsal for Moon Trips

Gemini is America’s first real spacecraft. Unlike Mercury, which could do little more than spin on its axis and carry a human in space for 24 hours, Gemini has the ability to maneuver. It can rendezvous with other craft in orbit, change orbits to a degree, can stay in space for up to two weeks, and it seats two. Because of this last, an astronaut can be deployed for extravehicular activity. All of these capabilities are vital prerequisites for any Moon-bound craft, and the lessons learned in operating Gemini are directly applicable to Apollo, the three-seat spacecraft destined to reach Earth’s celestial companion.

This fourth Gemini mission, the second to be crewed, was the first to really put the spacecraft through its paces. And boy did it ever. There’s a reason the flight dominated the news before, during, and after the event.

Into the Wild Black Yonder

At around 8:00 PM Pacific Time (as all times shall be rendered pardon my San Diego bias) on June 2, ground crews began fueling the repurposed Titan II ICBM that would carry the Gemini 4 capsule. Note that the ship did not and still does not have a name. This is a first, and I think it a rather sad state of affairs.

At 1:10 AM the following morning, Majors James McDivitt and Ed White, command pilot and co-pilot respectively, were awoken whereupon they feasted on the “low residue” breakfast that has become traditional: steak and eggs.

By 5:20 AM, they were suited up and installed in their craft, take-off scheduled for 7 AM. But the red rocket erector would not come down, and for more than an hour, the astronauts waited. Would the flight be scrubbed?

Luckily, a reset of the structure freed things up, and at 7:40 AM, the Titan was clear, ready for launch. And launch it did at 8:16 AM, guided for the first time from the brand new Mission Control in Houston, Texas. The complex had been staffed for the previous two Gemini missions, but this was the first time control was formally transferred from Cape Com in Florida.

Once in orbit, the Gemini astronauts wasted no time. By the time the spacecraft had twice circled the Earth, astronaut White was already planning his jaunt into history. As Gemini 4 whizzed over North America, the co-pilot opened his hatch and stepped out into the vacuum of space. For a good twenty minutes, as the blue of the Earth slowly unfolded beneath him, Ed White was the first American human satellite.

Only a tether and a rather Buck Rogers-looking nitrogen gun for maneuvering kept him in the proximity of his mothership. And like a recalcitrant child, White did not want to come back inside when called. “This is the saddest moment of my life,” he lamented. But return he did, and safely.

Much to the relief of the astronauts’ wives, coincidentally both named Patricia.

What do you do to top that? Well, while the rest of the flight might not have matched the drama of the main event, the remaining four days of the mission nevertheless were important, too. Not just for what was accomplished, but for what failed to be mastered.

For instance, Gemini 4 was supposed to get some rendezvous practice in, using the spent second-stage of the Titan as a target. Try as he might, McDivitt could not accomplish the task. Future pilots will be aided by radar orbital mechanics are tricky!

Also, on the second and third days of the mission, McDivitt reported spotting and snapping shots of two satellites, one of which was just 10 miles away and had “big arms sticking out of it.” However, the developed pictures do not show these mysterious craft.

On the other hand, the Gemini crew did take amazing photos of the Earth, offering a sneak preview of the kind of gorgeous albums we can expect once human presence in space is firmly established. I will let the following sequence speak for itself.

Actually, I’ll make a note on the following: the darkened area is rain that had recently fallen on Texas. This kind of Earth monitoring from orbit will be invaluable to science and business.

Gemini 4 was the first American (and possibly human, period) spacecraft to carry an onboard computer. This device was designed to provide a smooth and automatic landing. But on June 6, the day before landing, the computer became balky after receiving a software update, eventually quitting entirely.

A manual, Mercury-style reentry had to be done, which was begun around 9:45 AM on June 7. McDivitt was about a second late on the start of the procedure, and Gemini 4 ended up about 50 miles off target.

But the recovery fleet was already on hand when the parachute of McDivitt and White’s capsule appeared in the noon-day blue, and within an hour of splash down, the astronauts and their ship were already onboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Wasp.

The doomsday predictions that long-term exposure to orbital radiation and weightlessness proved largely unfounded. The two astronauts were a little tired and wobbly, but on their own two feet, they marched below decks for a well-deserved shower.

In just a single flight, Gemini 4 more than doubled the accumulated American hours in space, quadrupled if you count them in human-hours. Gemini has demonstrated that the U.S. can deploy free men into space for extended periods of time, both inside and outside a capsule. And given the current flight schedule, with at least two, possibly three longer flights planned just for this year, there’s no question that the American stride in the space race is lengthening.

Will the tortoise take the lead? Or is a bunny in the shape of Voskhod 3 about to upset the contest once again? Only time will tell.

Did you miss our stellar show on Gemini 4 and the Space Race? Tune into this rerun of The Journey Show!

Historical Events on June 3

    After 5-month siege during the First Crusade, the Crusaders seize Antioch French scholar Peter Abelard is found guilty of heresy Treaty of Novgorod delineates borders between Russia and Norway in Finnmark Peace of Ath signed (in modern Belgium), settles Brabant succession

Hernando de Soto's Expedition lands in Florida

Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto lands on the coast of Florida, somewhere between present-day Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor

Event of Interest

1540 Hernando de Soto crosses the Appalachian Mountains, 1st European to do so

    Construction of the oldest stone church in French North America, Notre-Dame-des-Anges, begins at Quebec City, Quebec, Canada Dutch West India Company (WIC) receives charter for The West Indies (The Americas, Caribbean and West Africa) Pope Alexander VII appoints François de Laval vicar apostolic in New France Duke of York (future James II) defeats Dutch fleet off the coast of Lowestoft Amsterdam establishes municipal postal service Moscow houses and churches destroyed by fire Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo founded in California

Event of Interest

1781 Jack Jouett rides to warn Thomas Jefferson of British attack

    US army officially established by Congress of the Confederation Explorer Alexander Mackenzie sets out on his first expedition to the Pacific from Fort Chipewyan (finds the Arctic Ocean instead) Maratha Wars between British and Maratha Confederacy in India ends 4th national black convention meets (Philadelphia) 1st baseball uniforms worn when the NY Knickerbockers wear a uniform of straw hats, white shirts and blue long trousers Cullen Whipple patents a machine for making screws Comanche, Iowa, completely destroyed by one of a series of tornadoes 1st American Civil War land battle: Union forces defeat the Confederacy at Philippi in modern-day West Virginia

Victory in Battle

1864 General Robert E. Lee wins his last victory of Civil War at Battle of Cold Harbor

Event of Interest

1871 Jesse James & his gang robs Obocock Bank (Corydon Iowa), of $15,000

    Lacrosse introduced in Britain and Canada John Lynch (R-MS) chosen 1st black major-party national convention chair 24 Christians burn to death in Namgongo, Uganda Baseball poem "Casey at the Bat" 1st published by the San Francisco Examiner The Canadian Pacific Railway is completed from coast to coast

Event of Interest

1896 British naval officer David Beatty is seconded to the Egyptian government and appointed second in command of the river flotilla

Event of Interest

1899 W. G. Grace's last day of Test cricket aged 50 yrs 320 days

    Belgian King Leopold II claims Congo as his private possession Centro Escolar University is established by Librada Avelino and Carmen de Luna in Manila, Philippines "Come Josephine in My Flying Machine" record by Fred Fisher and Alfred Bryan, sung by Ada Jones and Billy Murray hits #1

Baseball Record

    Goodyear airship "Pilgrim" makes the first with an enclosed cabin 1st trade show at Atlantic City Convention Center (electric light) Chile and Peru sign the Treaty of Lima, finally resolving their border dispute from the War of the Pacific (1879–83). Chile keeps Arica and Peru regains Tacna. French Championships Men's Tennis: René Lacoste wins his 3rd French title, beating fellow Frenchman Jean Borotra 6-3, 2-6, 6-0, 2-6, 8-6

French Open Women's Tennis

1929 French Championship Women's Tennis: Defending champion Helen Wills Moody beats Simonne Mathieu 6-3, 6-4

    Grover Cleveland Alexander is released by the Phillies John McGraw, who came to NY in 1902, resigns as manager of Giants

Baseball Record

1932 MLBs Lou Gehrig is 1st to hit 4 consecutive HRs Yanks beat A's 20-13

Event of Interest

1932 Paul von Hindenburg disbands German Parliament

Catholic Encyclical

1933 Pope Pius XI encyclical "On oppression of the Church in Spain"

    French liner SS Normandie sets Atlantic crossing record of four days, three hours and 14 minutes on her maiden voyage

Miracle of Dunkirk

1940 Last British and French troops evacuated from Dunkirk

    Attack on telephone exchange in Schiphol German occupiers stamp "J" on Jewish passports United Nations Relief & Rehabilitation Administration forms

Zoot Suit Riots

1943 A mob of 60 from the Los Angeles Naval Reserve Armory beat up everyone perceived to be Hispanic, starting the week-long Zoot Suit Riots

    76th Belmont: G L Smith riding Bounding Home wins in 2:32.2 Generals Giraud & de Gaulle reach agreement on constitution Nazis pull out of Rome 1st bikini bathing suit displayed (Paris) International Military Tribunal opens in Tokyo against 28 Japanese war criminals

Event of Interest

1947 British Viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten visits Pakistan

Music Premiere

1948 Musical "Sleepy Hollow", based on Washington Irving's novel, opens at St James Theater, NYC runs for 12 performances

    200" (5.08 m) Hale telescope dedicated at Palomar Observatory Korczak Ziolkowski begins sculpture of Crazy Horse near Mt Rushmore 1st African American to graduate from US Naval Academy (Wesley Anthony Brown)

Event of Interest

    3rd class travel on British Railways ends KGUN TV channel 9 in Tucson, AZ (ABC) begins broadcasting Referendum allows city to sell Chavez Ravine to the Dodgers 1st US Air Force Academy graduation in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Historic Communication

1959 US President Eisenhower routes Canadian premier Diefenbaker a message off the Moon

    Singapore adopts constitution European Cup Final, Stuttgart: Real Madrid beats Stade de Reims, 2-0 4th consecutive title for Los Blancos "Wildcat" closes at Alvin Theater NYC after 172 performances 93rd Belmont: Braulio Baeza aboard Sherluck wins in 2:29.2

Meeting of Interest

1961 JFK & Khrushchev meet in Vienna

Event of Interest

1962 Lee Harvey Oswald arrives by train in Oldenzaal, Netherlands

    WBKO TV channel 13 in Bowling Green, KY (ABC) begins broadcasting A Northwest Airlines DC-7 crashes in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of British Columbia, killing 101

Event of Interest

1964 Ringo Starr collapses from tonsillitis and pharyngitis

    Gemini 4 launched 2nd US 2-man flight (McDivitt & White) mission included 1st US spacewalk 1st US Space walk made by NASA astronaut Ed White during the Gemini 4 mission (23 minutes) European DX Council forms in Copenhagen (shortwave listeners) Gemini 9 launched 7th US 2-man flight (Stafford & Cernan) 99th Belmont: Bill Shoemaker aboard Damascus wins in 2:28.8

#1 in the Charts

French Open Men's Tennis

1967 French Championships Men's Tennis: Roy Emerson bests fellow Australian Tony Roche, 6-1, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 for his 12th, and final, Grand Slam title

    French Championships Women's Tennis: Local favourite Françoise Dürr beats Lesley Turner of Australia, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 Canada announces it will replace silver with nickel in coins Poor Peoples March on Washington, D.C. Yanks turn 21st triple-play in their history lose 4-3 to Twins

Assassination Attempt

1968 American radical feminist Valerie Solanas attempts to assassinate Andy Warhol by shooting him three times. She is later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and pleads guilty to "reckless assault with intent to harm", serving a 3 year sentence.

White's legacy

The Apollo 1 tragedy forced NASA to rethink the safety of human spaceflight and redesign the Apollo command module. The tragedy became the first and last fatal training accident in NASA&rsquos history. Every year NASA honors the lives of fallen astronauts during the Day of Remembrance.

White was buried with full military honors at West Point Cemetery. In 1997 president Bill Clinton posthumously awarded White the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

A picture of White performing his spacewalk is encoded in the Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft. The record, which has already left our solar system, will fly through the cosmos for eons, forever memorializing those 23 minutes of joy and awe White felt floating in space.

Today in History: June 3

In 1965, astronaut Edward H. White became the first American to “walk” in space during the flight of Gemini 4. (AP Photo/NASA, File) In 1989, Iran’s spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, died.

The late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, center, is greeted by supporters after arriving at the airport in Tehran Iran in this Feb. 1, 1979 photo. Monday Feb. 1, 1999 is the 20th anniversary of Khomeini’s return from exile to lead the Islamic revolution in his country. ( AP Photo )

In 2016, heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali died at a hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona, at age 74.

Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali leans on the ropes after he successfully defended his title against Earnie Shavers at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Sept. 29, 1977. Ali was awarded an unanimous decision in the fifteen-round fight with Shavers. At right is Ali’s aide Drew “Bundini” Brown. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)

In 2017, a white van slammed into pedestrians on London Bridge, killing eight people the three attackers were shot and killed by police.

An undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police, London, and made available Saturday, June 10, 2017, of the van used in the London Bridge attacks of Saturday June 3 which killed several people and wounded dozens more. The ringleader of the London Bridge terror gang tried to hire a 7.5 tonne lorry hours before the attack, police have revealed. Detectives suspect the carnage inflicted could have been even worse if Khuram Butt had not failed to secure the vehicle because his payment did not go through. (Metropolitan Police London via AP)o

In 1968, pop artist Andy Warhol was shot and critically wounded at his New York film studio, known as “The Factory,” by Valerie Solanas, an actress and self-styled militant feminist who ended up serving three years in prison for assault.

FILE – In this 1976 file photo, pop artist Andy Warhol smiles in New York. In the late 1970s, pop artist Andy Warhol and writer Truman Capote recorded dozens of hours of intimate conversations they planned to use as the basis for a Broadway play however, the two icons moved on to other projects, the tapes were forgotten and both men died. Director Rob Roth tracked down the tapes and adapted them for the play premiering Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

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Today is Monday, June 3, the 154th day of 2019.

Today’s Highlights in History:

On June 3, 1989, Iran’s spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, died. On the same day, Chinese army troops began their sweep of Beijing to crush student-led pro-democracy demonstrations.

On this date:

In 1781, Capt. Jack Jouett began riding his horse some 40 miles from Louisa County, Virginia, to Charlottesville, where Gov. Thomas Jefferson and other politicians were located, to warn of approaching British troops who intended to take them prisoner.

In 1861, Illinois Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, the Democratic presidential nominee in the 1860 election, died in Chicago of typhoid fever he was 48.

In 1935, the French liner Normandie set a record on its maiden voyage, arriving in New York after crossing the Atlantic in just four days.

In 1948, the 200-inch reflecting Hale Telescope at the Palomar Mountain Observatory in California was dedicated.

In 1962, Air France Flight 007, a U.S.-bound Boeing 707, crashed while attempting to take off from Orly Airport near Paris all but two of the 132 people aboard were killed.

In 1965, astronaut Edward H. White became the first American to “walk” in space during the flight of Gemini 4.

In 1968, pop artist Andy Warhol was shot and critically wounded at his New York film studio, known as “The Factory,” by Valerie Solanas, an actress and self-styled militant feminist who ended up serving three years in prison for assault.

In 1977, the United States and Cuba agreed to set up diplomatic interests sections in each other’s countries Cuba also announced the immediate release of 10 Americans jailed on drug charges.

In 2008, Barack Obama claimed the Democratic presidential nomination, speaking in the same St. Paul, Minnesota, arena where Republicans would be holding their national convention in September 2008.

In 2016, heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali died at a hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona, at age 74.

In 2017, a white van slammed into pedestrians on London Bridge, killing eight people the three attackers were shot and killed by police.

Ten years ago: New Hampshire became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage. The Organization of American States cleared the way for Cuba’s possible return to the group by lifting a 47-year ban on the country. Death claimed Koko Taylor, 80, the “Queen of the Blues,” in Chicago and Las Vegas saxophonist Sam Butera, 81.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama arrived in Warsaw, Poland, at the start of a three-country swing, pledging to boost U.S. military deployments and exercises throughout Europe. Tens of thousands of Syrians in government-controlled cities voted to give President Bashar Assad a new seven-year mandate the opposition and its Western allies denounced the election as a farce, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calling it a “great big zero.”

One year ago: President Donald Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, stressed that Trump’s legal team would fight any effort to force Trump to testify in front of a grand jury during the special counsel’s Russia probe Giuliani also downplayed the idea that Trump could pardon himself. Graduating seniors at the Florida high school where a gunman killed 17 people in February received diplomas and heard from a surprise commencement speaker, “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon, who urged them to move forward and “don’t let anything stop you” four families received diplomas on behalf of loved ones slain in the attack. Guatemala’s Volcano of Fire, one of the most active volcanos in Central America, erupted in fiery explosions of ash and molten rock, killing more than 100 people and leaving scores of others missing.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.


The constellation for which the project was named is commonly pronounced / ˈ dʒ ɛ m ɪ n aɪ / , the last syllable rhyming with eye. However, staff of the Manned Spacecraft Center, including the astronauts, tended to pronounce the name / ˈ dʒ ɛ m ɪ n i / , rhyming with knee. NASA's public affairs office issued a statement in 1965 declaring "Jeh-mih-nee" the "official" pronunciation. [2] Gus Grissom, acting as Houston capsule communicator when Ed White performed his spacewalk on Gemini 4, is heard on flight recordings pronouncing the spacecraft's call sign "Jeh-mih-nee 4", and the NASA pronunciation is used in the 2018 film First Man. [2]

The Apollo program was conceived in early 1960 as a three-man spacecraft to follow Project Mercury. Jim Chamberlin, the head of engineering at the Space Task Group (STG), was assigned in February 1961 to start working on a bridge program between Mercury and Apollo. [3] He presented two initial versions of a two-man spacecraft, then designated Mercury Mark II, at a NASA retreat at Wallops Island in March 1961. [3] Scale models were shown in July 1961 at the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation's offices in St. Louis. [3]

After Apollo was chartered to land men on the Moon by President John F. Kennedy on May 25, 1961, it became evident to NASA officials that a follow-on to the Mercury program was required to develop certain spaceflight capabilities in support of Apollo. NASA approved the two-man / two-vehicle program rechristened Project Gemini (Latin for "twins"), in reference to the third constellation of the Zodiac with its twin stars Castor and Pollux, on December 7, 1961. [3] McDonnell Aircraft was contracted to build it on December 22, 1961. [4] The program was publicly announced on January 3, 1962, with these major objectives: [5]

  • To demonstrate endurance of humans and equipment in spaceflight for extended periods, at least eight days required for a Moon landing, to a maximum of two weeks
  • To effect rendezvous and docking with another vehicle, and to maneuver the combined spacecraft using the propulsion system of the target vehicle
  • To demonstrate Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA), or space-"walks" outside the protection of the spacecraft, and to evaluate the astronauts' ability to perform tasks there
  • To perfect techniques of atmospheric reentry and touchdown at a pre-selected location on land [note 3]

Chamberlin designed the Gemini capsule, which carried a crew of two. He was previously the chief aerodynamicist on Avro Canada's Avro Arrow fighter interceptor program. [6] Chamberlin joined NASA along with 25 senior Avro engineers after cancellation of the Canadian Arrow program, and became head of the U.S. Space Task Group's engineering division in charge of Gemini. [6] [7] The prime contractor was McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, which was also the prime contractor for the Project Mercury capsule. [8]

Astronaut Gus Grissom was heavily involved in the development and design of the Gemini spacecraft. What other Mercury astronauts dubbed "Gusmobile" was so designed around Grissom's 5'6" body that, when NASA discovered in 1963 that 14 of 16 astronauts would not fit in the spacecraft, the interior had to be redesigned. [9] Grissom wrote in his posthumous 1968 book Gemini! that the realization of Project Mercury's end and the unlikelihood of his having another flight in that program prompted him to focus all his efforts on the upcoming Gemini program.

The Gemini program was managed by the Manned Spacecraft Center, located in Houston, Texas, under direction of the Office of Manned Space Flight, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. Dr. George E. Mueller, Associate Administrator of NASA for Manned Space Flight, served as acting director of the Gemini program. William C. Schneider, Deputy Director of Manned Space Flight for Mission Operations served as mission director on all Gemini flights beginning with Gemini 6A.

Guenter Wendt was a McDonnell engineer who supervised launch preparations for both the Mercury and Gemini programs and would go on to do the same when the Apollo program launched crews. His team was responsible for completion of the complex pad close-out procedures just prior to spacecraft launch, and he was the last person the astronauts would see prior to closing the hatch. The astronauts appreciated his taking absolute authority over, and responsibility for, the condition of the spacecraft and developed a good-humored rapport with him. [10]

NASA selected McDonnell Aircraft, which had been the prime contractor for the Project Mercury capsule, in 1961 to build the Gemini capsule, the first of which was delivered in 1963. The spacecraft was 18 feet 5 inches (5.61 m) long and 10 feet (3.0 m) wide, with a launch weight varying from 7,100 to 8,350 pounds (3,220 to 3,790 kg). [11]

The Gemini crew capsule (referred to as the Reentry Module) was essentially an enlarged version of the Mercury capsule. Unlike Mercury, the retrorockets, electrical power, propulsion systems, oxygen, and water were located in a detachable Adapter Module behind the Reentry Module. A major design improvement in Gemini was to locate all internal spacecraft systems in modular components, which could be independently tested and replaced when necessary, without removing or disturbing other already tested components.

Reentry module Edit

Many components in the capsule itself were reachable through their own small access doors. Unlike Mercury, Gemini used completely solid-state electronics, and its modular design made it easy to repair. [12]

Gemini's emergency launch escape system did not use an escape tower powered by a solid-fuel rocket, but instead used aircraft-style ejection seats. The tower was heavy and complicated, and NASA engineers reasoned that they could do away with it as the Titan II's hypergolic propellants would burn immediately on contact. A Titan II booster explosion had a smaller blast effect and flame than on the cryogenically fueled Atlas and Saturn. Ejection seats were sufficient to separate the astronauts from a malfunctioning launch vehicle. At higher altitudes, where the ejection seats could not be used, the astronauts would return to Earth inside the spacecraft, which would separate from the launch vehicle. [13]

The main proponent of using ejection seats was Chamberlin, who had never liked the Mercury escape tower and wished to use a simpler alternative that would also reduce weight. He reviewed several films of Atlas and Titan II ICBM failures, which he used to estimate the approximate size of a fireball produced by an exploding launch vehicle and from this he gauged that the Titan II would produce a much smaller explosion, thus the spacecraft could get away with ejection seats.

Maxime Faget, the designer of the Mercury LES, was on the other hand less-than-enthusiastic about this setup. Aside from the possibility of the ejection seats seriously injuring the astronauts, they would also only be usable for about 40 seconds after liftoff, by which point the booster would be attaining Mach 1 speed and ejection would no longer be possible. He was also concerned about the astronauts being launched through the Titan's exhaust plume if they ejected in-flight and later added, "The best thing about Gemini was that they never had to make an escape." [14]

The Gemini ejection system was never tested with the Gemini cabin pressurized with pure oxygen, as it was prior to launch. In January 1967, the fatal Apollo 1 fire demonstrated that pressurizing a spacecraft with pure oxygen created an extremely dangerous fire hazard. [15] In a 1997 oral history, astronaut Thomas P. Stafford commented on the Gemini 6 launch abort in December 1965, when he and command pilot Wally Schirra nearly ejected from the spacecraft:

So it turns out what we would have seen, had we had to do that, would have been two Roman candles going out, because we were 15 or 16 psi, pure oxygen, soaking in that for an hour and a half. You remember the tragic fire we had at the Cape. (. ) Jesus, with that fire going off and that, it would have burned the suits. Everything was soaked in oxygen. So thank God. That was another thing: NASA never tested it under the conditions that they would have had if they would have had to eject. They did have some tests at China Lake where they had a simulated mock-up of Gemini capsule, but what they did is fill it full of nitrogen. They didn't have it filled full of oxygen in the sled test they had. [16]

Gemini was the first astronaut-carrying spacecraft to include an onboard computer, the Gemini Guidance Computer, to facilitate management and control of mission maneuvers. This computer, sometimes called the Gemini Spacecraft On-Board Computer (OBC), was very similar to the Saturn Launch Vehicle Digital Computer. The Gemini Guidance Computer weighed 58.98 pounds (26.75 kg). Its core memory had 4096 addresses, each containing a 39-bit word composed of three 13-bit "syllables". All numeric data was 26-bit two's-complement integers (sometimes used as fixed-point numbers), either stored in the first two syllables of a word or in the accumulator. Instructions (always with a 4-bit opcode and 9 bits of operand) could go in any syllable. [17] [18] [19] [20]

Unlike Mercury, Gemini used in-flight radar and an artificial horizon, similar to those used in the aviation industry. [17] Like Mercury, Gemini used a joystick to give the astronauts manual control of yaw, pitch, and roll. Gemini added control of the spacecraft's translation (forward, backward, up, down, and sideways) with a pair of T-shaped handles (one for each crew member). Translation control enabled rendezvous and docking, and crew control of the flight path. The same controller types were also used in the Apollo spacecraft. [9]

The original intention for Gemini was to land on solid ground instead of at sea, using a Rogallo wing rather than a parachute, with the crew seated upright controlling the forward motion of the craft. To facilitate this, the airfoil did not attach just to the nose of the craft, but to an additional attachment point for balance near the heat shield. This cord was covered by a strip of metal which ran between the twin hatches. [21] This design was ultimately dropped, and parachutes were used to make a sea landing as in Mercury. The capsule was suspended at an angle closer to horizontal, so that a side of the heat shield contacted the water first. This eliminated the need for the landing bag cushion used in the Mercury capsule.

Adapter module Edit

The adapter module in turn was separated into a Retro module and an Equipment module.

Retro module Edit

The Retro module contained four solid-fuel TE-M-385 Star-13E retrorockets, each spherical in shape except for its rocket nozzle, which were structurally attached to two beams that reached across the diameter of the retro module, crossing at right angles in the center. [22] Re-entry began with the retrorockets firing one at a time. Abort procedures at certain periods during lift-off would cause them to fire at the same time, thrusting the Descent module away from the Titan rocket.

Equipment module Edit

Gemini was equipped with an Orbit Attitude and Maneuvering System (OAMS), containing sixteen thrusters for translation control in all three perpendicular axes (forward/backward, left/right, up/down), in addition to attitude control (pitch, yaw, and roll angle orientation) as in Mercury. Translation control allowed changing orbital inclination and altitude, necessary to perform space rendezvous with other craft, and docking with the Agena Target Vehicle (ATV), with its own rocket engine which could be used to perform greater orbit changes.

Early short-duration missions had their electrical power supplied by batteries later endurance missions used the first fuel cells in crewed spacecraft.

Gemini was in some regards more advanced than Apollo because the latter program began almost a year earlier. It became known as a "pilot's spacecraft" due to its assortment of jet fighter-like features, in no small part due to Gus Grissom's influence over the design, and it was at this point where the US crewed space program clearly began showing its superiority over that of the Soviet Union with long duration flight, rendezvous, and extravehicular capability. [note 4] The Soviet Union during this period was developing the Soyuz spacecraft intended to take cosmonauts to the Moon, but political and technical problems began to get in the way, leading to the ultimate end of their crewed lunar program.

The Titan II had debuted in 1962 as the Air Force's second-generation ICBM to replace the Atlas. By using hypergolic fuels, it could be stored longer and be easily readied for launch in addition to being a simpler design with fewer components, the only caveat being that the propellant mix (nitrogen tetroxide and hydrazine) was extremely toxic compared to the Atlas's liquid oxygen/RP-1. However, the Titan had considerable difficulty being man-rated due to early problems with pogo oscillation. The launch vehicle used a radio guidance system that was unique to launches from Cape Kennedy.

Photos of the Gemini IV mission, NASA's second manned space flight

See some of the amazing shots taken before, during and after the historic mission.

NASA NASA is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Gemini IV mission, the first time an American successfully attempted a spacewalk. We've collected photos from a variety of sources of the June 1965 mission and other events related to it.

Note: Dates on photos refer to the publishing date of those photos

Science & Society Picture Librar/The Life Picture Collection Jan. 1, 1965

: Gemini 4 astronaut Ed White made the first spacewalk or EVA (extra vehicular activity) by an American. He spent more than 20 minutes outside his spacecraft. The "umbilical cord" connecting him to the capsule supplied him with oxygen, and he held a rocket gun which he fired to help him move around in the vacuum of space. Gemini 4, crewed by James McDivitt and White, was launched on June 3, 1965 and completed 62 Earth orbits. It was the second manned launch of NASA's two-man Gemini spacecraft.

NASA/The Life Picture Collection Jan. 1, 1965

: Astronaut Ed White walking in space, tethered to Gemini IV.

James A. McDivitt/The Life Picture Collection Jan. 1, 1965

: Gemini 4 astronaut Ed White floating in space during first American spacewalk.

Science & Society Picture Librar/The Life Picture Collection Jan. 1, 1965:

Gemini 4 astronaut Ed White made the first spacewalk or EVA (extravehicular activity) by an American.

NASA HISTORY: Gemini IV Launched From Cape Canaveral For A 62-Orbit Mission In 1965

June 3, 1965

On June 3, 1965, Gemini IV launched from Cape Canaveral at 10:16 a.m. (Eastern Time), carrying astronauts James McDivitt and Ed White into space. (NASA Image)

(NASA) – On June 3, 1965, Gemini IV launched from Cape Canaveral at 10:16 a.m. (Eastern Time), carrying astronauts James McDivitt and Ed White into space.

The goals of the four-day, 62-orbit mission were numerous and daring. While Gemini III, the first human flight of the series, completed 3 orbits and lasted under 5 hours, the Gemini IV mission tested procedures for longer journeys into space.

The mission also demonstrated new maneuvers and a series of experiments performed by McDivitt and White, including an attempted rendezvous with Gemini IV’s Titan launch vehicle. (The rendezvous attempt was not successful.)

On the first day of the flight, White completed the first American spacewalk. The extravehicular activity, which lasted for 21 minutes, tested the new space suit designed for spacewalks and the Hand-Held Maneuvering Unit (HHMU), a device that was intended to control the astronaut’s movements in space.

It rapidly used up the propellant supply and was not as effective as expected, so the HHMU hardware was abandoned after this mission. White was attached to the ship by a 25-foot cord, which also contained oxygen supply and communication lines.

When prompted to return to the spaceship, White replied “I’m coming back in…and it’s the saddest moment of my life.”

The goals of the four-day, 62-orbit mission were numerous and daring. While Gemini III, the first human flight of the series, completed 3 orbits and lasted under 5 hours, the Gemini IV mission tested procedures for longer journeys into space. (NASA Image) The mission also demonstrated new maneuvers and a series of experiments performed by McDivitt and White, including an attempted rendezvous with Gemini IV’s Titan launch vehicle. (The rendezvous attempt was not successful.) (NASA Image) On June 3, 1965, Gemini IV launched from Cape Canaveral at 10:16 a.m. (Eastern Time), carrying astronauts James McDivitt and Ed White into space. (NASA Image)