50 years ago Gemini 3 flew into space

24 Mar

It was 9:23 am (EST) the morning of March 23, 1965 in Cape Canaveral, Florida that a Titan II rocket set on launch complex 19. On top of that rocket was the Gemini 3 capsule containing astronauts Virgal “Gus” Grissom and John W. Young. The two were strapped in tight as they listened to the countdown and knowing that in on minute they would be launched into orbit around the Earth. The Launch would mark the first manned mission for the Gemini program. It was to be a flight full of first including using the Houston mission control center, using the OAMS (orbital attitude maneuvering system), the first astronaut to fly twice and the first corned beef sandwich.

In 1965 NASA (national aeronautics and space administration) replaced the Mercury mission control center, at Cape Canaveral in Florida, with the mission control center in Houston, Texas. Gemini 3 was the irst manned flight that would be monitored by that control center. The Houston center would continue to be mission control through not only the Gemini program but Apollo, Skylab, the space shuttle and still used today.

The Gemini program introduce the use of the OAMS (orbital attitude maneuvering system) that controlled the 16 thrusters during re-entry and splashdown. The OAMS system has been intergrated into all space vehicles since that time to assist in docking, stage separations and repair maneuvering.

When Gemini III lifted off astronaut Virgal “Gus” Grissom went into orbit for the second time. The first was when he flew the Mercury 7 mission. Mr. Grissom later was on a third mission, Apollo I, that tragically burned up with Grissom and two other astronauts aboard.

As a joke fellow astronaut Wally Schirra purchased a corned beef sandwich that he gave to John Young to smuggle onto Gemini 3. After they achieved orbit Mr. Young showed the sandwich to Mr. Grissom. Mr. Grissom took the sandwich and ate it causing crumbs to float throughout the capsule creating a safety risk. The incident caused NASA to be more strict on enforcing their rule on what food item can and can not be taken on space missions.

“Where did that come from?” Gus Grissom, the mission’s commander, asked his crewmate.

“I brought it with me,” Young replied, somewhat matter of factly. “Let’s see how it tastes. Smells, doesn’t it?”


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