On September 20th 1965, NASA named the crew for Gemini VIII. The command pilot selected was Neil Armstrong, a civilian test pilot with much experience in the X-15 rocket research aircraft program. David Scott was selected as pilot. Scott was the first of the Group 3 astronauts selected for a mission. The backup crew for Gemini VIII, was Navy Lieutenant Commanders Pete Conrad and Richard F. Gordon, Jr.
Many doubted that Agena could be ready in time to meet Gemini’s tight launch schedules. The end of 1965 saw Agena’s usefulness in manned space flight once again called into question, but this time time a substitute target had already been approved for development…
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:
1-To subject two men and supporting equipment to long duration flights — a requirement for projected later trips to the moon or deeper space.
2-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 such maneuvers.
3-To perfect methods of reentry and landing the spacecraft at a pre-selected land-landing point.
4-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.
From the previous episode, we have Gemini VII waiting in orbit for Gemini VI-A to launch and rendezvous. Remember, Gemini VII could only remain in orbit for 14 days, the maximum duration of its flight. The goal was to launch Gemini VI-A on or before day 9 of Gemini VII’s mission.
One second after 11 o’clock Wednesday morning, April 8th 1964, the Titan II booster’s first-stage engine ignited. Four seconds later, the 156 ton vehicle lifted from the pad on that curiously lambent flame so distinctive of Titan II’s hypergolic propellants. Within moments, Gemini-Titan 1 vanished into the hot Florida sky, beyond reach of human senses but not electronic sensors. Telemetry data flowed back to mission controllers at the Cape, telling them that the launch was as nearly perfect as it looked.
“The primary objective of the first Gemini mission, was to prove that the Titan II was capable of launching the Gemini spacecraft into orbit within the tolerances imposed by manned space flight. The secondary objective was for the spacecraft to gather and report data.”
Sequence Compatibility Firing of the two stages of Gemini launch vehicle 1 at pad 19, Jan. 21,1964
Gemini-Titan 1 during Electronic-Electrical Interference Tests with the launch vehicle erector lowered
Gemini boilerplate 3A in the production area at the McDonnell plant before being shipped to Weber Aircraft