The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced December
7, 1961, a plan to extend the existing manned space flight program by development of a two-man spacecraft. The program was officially
designated Gemini on January 3, 1962. It was named after the third constellation of the zodiac, featuring the twin stars Castor and
Pollux. The program was operationally completed with the Gemini XII flight.
The Gemini program was managed by the Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, Texas, under direction of the Office of Manned Space Flight,
NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC., 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 V.
The Manned Spacecraft Center Gemini effort was headed by Dr. Robert R.
Gilruth, director of the Center, and Charles W. Matthews, Gemini Program Manager.
The Gemini Program was conceived after it became evident to NASA officials that an intermediate step was required between Project
Mercury and the Apollo Program. The major objectives assigned to Gemini were:
- To subject two men and supporting equipment to long
duration flights -- a requirement for projected later trips to the moon or deeper space.
- To effect rendezvous and docking with other orbiting
vehicles, and to maneuver the docked vehicles in space, using the propulsion system of the target vehicle for
- To perfect methods of reentry and landing the spacecraft
at a pre-selected land-landing point.
- To gain additional information concerning the effects of
weightlessness on crew members and to record the physiological reactions of crew members during long duration flights.
A brief summary of the Gemini flight results reveals how successful
the Gemini Program was. All of the major objectives were met as well as many other objectives assigned to each mission, with the exception
of land landing which was canceled from the Gemini Program in 1964. However, the precision control necessary to achieve the land landing
objective was demonstrated.