Gemini Spacecraft w/Spacewalker by Dragon

1/72 scale
Kit No. 11013
Cost: $18.50
Decals: One version – by Cartograf of Italy
Comments: Realistic surface detail, detailed cabin interior, display stand, includes wire tether for spacewalking astronaut, option for open or closed capsule hatches, drogue chute cover can be assembled open or closed

History

Project Gemini was the second U.S. manned space program, and was the critical transition between the early Mercury program and the Apollo program which accomplished the manned moon landing established as a national goal by President John F. Kennedy in May 1961. Initially dubbed “Mercury II,” factors such as the dramatic re-design of the one-man Mercury capsule and the use of the Titan II missile as the launch vehicle contributed to the name change.

Project Gemini consisted of 12 flights — 2 unmanned and 10 manned — between April 1964 and November 1966,and had the following goals:
1. To subject men and equipment to space flight of up to two weeks duration;
2. To rendezvous and dock with orbiting vehicles, and to manuever the docked combination by using a larger target vehicle’s propulsion system;
3. To perfect methods of re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere and landing at a pre-selected point on land.

All goals were achieved with the exception of #3 which was cancelled early on in 1964 in favor of a series of ocean splashdowns.

Gemini embodied the great learning curve in the U.S. space program, in which many of the challenges involved in a manned moon landing were confronted and conquered. Mercury had been about getting into space, flying in a freefall orbit, and landing. Gemini tackled more sophisticated tasks. For example, Gemini was about mastering orbital manuevering and docking procedures, assessing whether men and equipment could withstand having to function in space for extended time periods, testing new space suit designs, mastering the techniques of space walking, as well as testing and refining new equipment such as the Orbit Attitude and Manuevering System (OAMS), which allowed astronauts a far greater ability to manuever in orbit than they’d had in Mercury capsules, and a “gas gun” which helped astronauts manuever independently in space, while outside of the space capsule. It was during a Gemini mission that the first space walk was performed, by Astronaut Ed White on June 3, 1965.

Highlights of Project Gemini (manned flights):

Gemini 3 – (Gus Grissom/John Young): Launched March 23, 1965
First testing of the OAMS and other new spacecraft systems
Duration: Just under 5 hours

Gemini 4 – (James Mcdivitt/Ed White II): Launched June 3, 1965
First space walk (by Ed White)
First multiple-day flight (4 days)
First experiments with physics of orbital flight,including attempt to fly in formation with another orbital vehicle
Duration: 4 days, 1 hour

Gemini 5 – (Gordon Cooper/Pete Conrad): Launched August 21, 1965
First use of a fuel cell for electrical power
First precision orbital manuevering
Evaluation of new Guidance and Navigation system and rendezvous radar
Duration: 7 days, 22 hours

Gemini 7 – (Frank Borman/James Lovell): Launched December 4, 1965
Testing of new lightweight space suit for long-duration missions
First rendezvous and close-in manuevering between indepedently piloted spacecraft
Duration: 13 days, 18 hours

Gemini 6A – (Walter Schirra/Thomas P. Stafford): Launched December 15, 1965
First landing to be televised live.
Initially planned to launch before Gemini 7, the plan for the Gemini 6 mission was to rendezvous with a separately launched Agena target vehicle, but the rendezvous was cancelled when the Agena failed to reach orbit and was lost. Renamed Gemini 6A, the mission’s rendezvous was accomplished with Gemini 7 instead.
Duration: 1 day, 1 hour

Gemini 9 – (Neil Armstrong/David Scott): Launched March 16, 1966
First successful docking with another space vehicle (an unmanned Agena stage rocket)
First docked vehicle manuevers
First emergency landing of an manned space mission
While docked with the Agena, one of Gemini 8’s OAMS thrusters became stuck in the open position. This was initially thought to be a problem with the Agena, and Armstrong undocked from it. The problem persisted and caused rapid rolling of the Gemini capsule, as fast as one revolution per second – a condition dangerous to the astronauts as it may have caused them to black out. A planned two-hour space walk had to be aborted, and an emergency re-entry affected. The high point of this mission was Neil Armstrong’s exceptionally skillful recovery of the out of control spacecraft, followed by a safe re-entry and splashdown – it was certainly a factor in tapping him to serve as the mission commander for in the first manned moon landing three years later.
Duration: 10 hours

Gemini 9A – (Thomas Stafford/Eugene Cernan): Launched June 3, 1966
Extended EVA (extra vehicular activity, i.e. spacewalking) using an Air Force astronaut manuevering unit (AMU), predecessor of the manned manuevering unit (MMU) later used on Space Shuttle missions.
EVA duration record set by Eugene Cernan of 2 hours, 9 minutes.
Duration: 3 days

Gemini 10 – (John Young/Michael Collins): Launched July 18, 1966
First mission to use an Agena stage target vehicle’s propulsion to control manuevering of docked spacecraft.
Additional docking manuevers; rendezvous exercises; highest orbit ever achieved (763 kilometers) using the Agena’s propulsion system while docked
Duration: 2 days, 22 hours

Gemini 11 – (Pete Conrad/Richard Gordon): Launched September 12, 1966
Set new record for highest orbit of manned spacecraft (1,374 kilometers)
Rendezvous and docking at the end of the first orbit – as would be required for Apollo lunar landings
First totally automatic, computer-controlled re-entry

Gemini 12 – (James Lovell/Edwin El “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr.): Launched November 11, 1966
First mission to conduct 3 EVA’s; concentrated on improved EVA procedures ( including foot restraints and body tethers)
First mission to use a telescoping handrail to assist EVA between two docked spacecraft (installed by Buzz Aldrin)

The Kit

Dragon’s Gemini capsule is injection molded in grey and consists of 43 parts, including a display stand. There is a fully detailed cockpit interior and two detailed astronaut figures, includiing one spacewalker and a wire tether. The astronauts are made from a soft, pliable material called “DS” which is supposed to facilitate painting, but the light weight of this rubber-like material makes it easier to depict an astronaut “floating” during a space walk while attached to the wire tether. There is an option for open or closed capsule hatches for both astronauts, and an open or closed drogue chute in the nose of the capsule. There is a finely detailed heat sheild as well as a plastic and metal display stand. The decals are by Cartograf and faithfully re-create the red trim on the actual Gemini capsule.

Conclusion

A nicely detailed and newly tooled kit from a critical time in the heyday of America’s historic space program. Highly recommended.

Reference

  • Project Gemini: Pocket Space Guide by Steve Whitfield; Apogee Books, Ontario, Canada; Copyright 2007

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