The success of Gus Grissom and John Young’s Gemini 3 flight paved the way for long duration space missions. The longest U.S. manned space flight to date was Gordon Cooper’s 34 hour Mercury flight. The Soviets, however, had four long duration flights to their credit, ranging from 70 to 119 hours. It was time for the US to attempt a long duration flight.
In total Ranger 9 transmitted 5,814 good contrast photographs during the final 19 minutes of flight. The last image taken before impact had a resolution of 0.3 meters per pixel. The spacecraft encountered the lunar surface after 64.5 hours of flight. Impact occurred at 14:08:19 UT right on target in the Alphonsus crater. Impact velocity was 2.67 km/s. The spacecraft performance was excellent.
Grissom – What is it?
Young: Corned beef sandwich.
Grissom: Where did it come from?
Young: I brought it with me. Let’s see how it tastes. Smells, doesn’t it.
Grissom: Yes, its breaking up. I’m going to stick it in my pocket.
Young: Is it? It was a thought, anyway.
Young: Not a very good one.
Grissom: Pretty good, thought, if it would just hold together.
Young: Want some chicken leg?
Grissom: No you can handle that.
The precise scope of the Gemini 3 mission remained uncertain until very nearly the eve of flight. In April of 1963, the GT-3 mission directive was “to demonstrate and evaluate the capabilities of the spacecraft and launch vehicle system, and the procedures necessary for the support of future long-duration and rendezvous missions.” But, that was a broad scope and did not clearly specified how GT-3 would accomplish it objective…