This month’s image is a NASA diagram of the classic 1960s Gemini spacecraft. Ten of these craft carried twenty astronauts into orbit between March 1965 and November 1966, filling the gap between the pioneering Mercury flights and the Moon-focused Apollo missions. These were essential to investigate just how to perform orbital rendezvous, docking and EVAs.
Essentially enlarged derivatives of the single seat Mercury capsule, Geminis were launched on top of Titan II boosters (converted from ICBMs). The crew sat side by side in a cosy cockpit in the black-painted Re-entry Module, behind this was the white Equipment Module which housed the fuel cells and propulsion system.
Gemini was a fine vehicle and the project met all of the major objectives set for it during its brief career. Modified Gemini craft were to have continued to fly into the 1970’s as military vehicles (Blue Gemini), space station supply craft (Big Gemini) and as the return capsule of the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory. None of these were built. Amazingly in 2011, an outfit called Space Operations Inc proposed launching updated Geminis (rebadged as Eclipse spacecraft) for commercial clients!