This was Flight Director Chris Kraft’s first major problem at the new Mission Control Center in Houston. He knew the spacecraft had enough battery power for reentry even if the fuel cells failed completely, but he needed to know if there would be time enough to reach a good reentry zone, such as the mid-Pacific near Hawaii on the sixth orbit…
By this time the Astronauts were thinking about a nickname for their spacecraft, but NASA Headquarters now officially refused to allow nicknames for Gemini spacecraft. However, Gordo Cooper was not so easily put off. Pete Conrad’s father-in-law had whittled a model covered wagon, which inspired Cooper with the idea for a crew patch, that would depict a covered wagon, emblazoned with the legend “Eight Days or Bust.” A personal appeal to NASA Administrator Webb led, after much discussion, to approval of the “Cooper patch.” But Webb greatly disliked the motto because he believed if the mission did not go the full eight days, people would say it had “busted.”
On orbit 48, after 75 hours of flight a problem arose. During a pass over the continental US the flight computer was updated. McDivitt was told to switch off the computer. He flipped the switch but the computer did not turn off. On the ground at mission control, efforts to solve the problem began immediately. For the next few orbits, the crew received instructions for trying different switch positions, after all the switching the computer finally failed entirely and could not be turned back on. Now the astronauts would have to resort to a rolling Mercury-type reentry, rather than the lifting bank angle the computer was supposed to help them achieve…
For the first time Television coverage of the launch had an international audience, as the scene was broadcast to 12 European nations via Intelsat 1 aka the Early Bird satellite of episode 59. Heightened by the prospect of an EVA and the first use of the new Mission Control Center in Houston, interest in Gemini IV reached levels never again matched in the Gemini program…
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…