The Manned Spacecraft Center has awarded to the Whirlpool Corporation Research Laboratories of Saint Joseph, Michigan, a contract to provide the food and waste management systems for Project Gemini. Whirlpool is to provide the water dispenser, food storage, and waste storage devices. The food and the zero-gravity feeding devices, however, are to be provided by the United States Army Quartermaster Corps Food and Container Institute, of Chicago. The Life Systems Division of the Manned Spacecraft Center is responsible for directing the program.
Continue reading “Wednesday, June 6, 1962 – Food Contract, Boilerplate Purchase”
At the Naval Parachute Facility in El Centro, California, North American completed a successful drop test of the emergency parachute recovery system, using a half-scale test vehicle.
Continue reading “Thursday, May 24, 1962 – Parachute testing starts”
The Ames Research Center has begun the first wind tunnel test of the inflatable paraglider wing, using a half-scale model of the wing intended to bring Gemini flights (after the first one) to a touchdown on the ground. This is the first large-scale paraglider wing in the full-scale test facility. The objective of the test program, to run over two months, are to understand the basic aerodynamic and loads data for the wing and spacecraft system, and to identify potential aerodynamic and design problems.
Continue reading “Wednesday, May 23, 1962 – Paraglider Wing Wind Tunnel Test”
The meeting about the retrograde rocket motors has concluded the design should be changed to provide about three times the thrust level. This will allow retrorocket aborts at altitudes as low as between 72,000 and 75,000 feet. The meeting was between representatives of McDonnell and the Gemini Project Office.
Continue reading “Thursday, May 17, 1962 – Retrorocket and Parachute Decisions”
The first ejection seat design review has been completed. The two-day conference at McDonnell in Saint Louis was attended by representatives of McDonnell, Northrop Ventura (formerly Radioplane), Weber Aircraft, and the Manned Spacecraft Center. This is the first of a series of ejection seat design meetings planned from March 29.
Continue reading “Tuesday, May 15, 1962 – Ejection seat in review; rocket catapult contract; new liaison”
The Manned Spacecraft Center has issued its final Statement of Work for the Air Force Space Systems Division. Space Systems Division is, in this context, contractor to NASA procuring Titan II launch vehicles, as modified for the manned program’s needs. The statement, itemizing the tasks Space Systems Division is expected to do or provide, and on what schedule, and how acceptable performance will be measured, and so on, began being prepared by the Manned Spacecraft Center on January 3. The initial budgeting and planning were completed by the end of March. Though final the plan is subject to amendment.
A two-day meeting on Gemini crew support systems has identified seven parameters to be measured for determining crew conditions during the Gemini flights. The instruments needed for the highest priority items — blood pressure, electrocardiogram, phonocardiogram, electroencephalogram, respiration, galvanic skin response, and body temperature — would require about three and a half pounds per pilot, require two watt-hours of power, and demand the shared use of six telemetry channels. Approved for development, then, are measurements of the electrocardiogram, respiration rate and depth, oral temperature, blood pressure, phonocardiogram, and nuclear radiation dose.
Continue reading “Friday, May 11, 1962 – Survival kit, biological measurements, spacewalk requirements”
The Manned Spacecraft Center has issued its third analysis of the schedule of the Gemini program. The new plan calls for two additional boilerplate spacecraft, in order to help ground testing. Test hardware has begun construction, and plans for the spacecraft ground tests are formed.
Continue reading “Friday, May 4, 1962 – Threats to First Gemini Spacecraft Schedules Identified”
A working group made of representatives from Goddard Space Flight Center and the Manned Spacecraft Center has formed to study making Project Gemini telemetry be transmitted fully by Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) systems. This follows a briefing from Lockheed on the system. Pulse Code Modulation is a method of numerical representations of samplings of an original analog signal. Human speech has been transmitted on such systems in experimental equipment as long ago as 1926, and was used — in conjunction with a vocoder, developed by Bell Labs, and with randomized thermal noise recorded by the Muzak Corporation — to provide secure high-level Allied communications during the Second World War.
Continue reading “Tuesday, May 1, 1962 – Digital coding, Gemini rendezvous and radar schemes”
Lockheed today presents its proposed propulsion development plans for the Gemini-Agena target vehicle. The description includes studies on propulsion system optimization, a program to develop multiple-restart capabilities for the primary propulsion system, and the development program for the secondary propulsion system.
Continue reading “Thursday, April 26, 1962 – Agena Launch Vehicle, Paraglider Plans”
McDonnell has awarded IBM’s Space Guidance Center, of Owego, New York, a $26.6 million subcontract for the Gemini spacecraft computer system. IBM is also responsible for integrating this digital computer with the spacecraft’s systems and the components electrically connected to it. These components are to include the inertial platform, the rendezvous radar, the time reference system, the digital command system, the data acquisition system, the electronics for attitude control and maneuvers, the autopilot for the launch vehicle, console controls, displays, and aerospace ground equipment.
Continue reading “Thursday, April 19, 1962 – IBM Awarded Computer Contract”
The Manned Spacecraft Center has confirmed that for the currently planned missions the Agena target satellite’s planned orbital lifetime of five days will be sufficient.
The Defense Products Division of B F Goodrich Company of Akron, Ohio, has been awarded a cost-plus-fixed-free contract by the Manned Spacecraft Center. The contract, for $209,701, is to design, develop, and fabricate prototype pressure suits. Goodrich has been at work on contract-related materials since the 10th of January.
Continue reading “Wednesday, April 4, 1962”
NASA’s Ames Research Center looks to have a place in the development of Project Gemini. Representatives of Ames, and the Manned Spacecraft Center, and Martin, and McDonnell meet today to discuss the Gemini wind tunnel program and the role Ames will have in it.
Continue reading “Tuesday, April 3, 1962”
McDonnell issues a $9 million subcontract to General Electric to design and develop fuel cells for the Gemini spacecraft. The General Electric design, selected by the Manned Spacecraft Center after an analysis completed January 23, appeared to offer advantages over the competing solar cells or other fuel cells in terms of simplicity, weight, and compatibility with other Project Gemini requirements. Much of this advantage is credited to the use of ion-exchange membranes rather than gas-diffusion electrodes within the fuel cells.
The Gemini Project Office made a major decision about seat ejection. It is to be initiated manually, with both seats ejected simultaneously in case either ejection system is energized. The seat ejection is to be useful as a way to escape an emergency while on the launchpad, during the initial phase of powered flight (to an altitude of about 60,000 feet), or on reentry following a failure of the paraglider landing system.
The escape system is to include a hatch actuation system, opening the hatches before ejection; a rocket catapult to shoot both seats away from the spacecraft; and parachutes for the astronauts following their separation from the seat. The system is also to provide for survival equipment for the astronauts to use after landing.
The design is to allow for an automatic initiator in case this later becomes a requirement.
In other news the Manned Spacecraft Center issued its second analysis of the Gemini program schedule. This is the first to consider launch vehicles as well as the spacecraft. (The earlier analysis, of just Gemini operations, was published January 5.) Analysis of the Agena vehicles is limited, as their procurement began only with a request the Manned Spacecraft Center sent to Marshall Space Flight Center on January 31 for the eleven Atlas-Agena rendezvous targets believed needed.
The Gemini program is projected to use a number of test articles for engineering development, correcting a problem which had delayed the Mercury Program at times. The first, unmanned, qualification test is projected for late July or early August 1963. The second, manned, flight is now planned for late October or early November 1963. The first Agena flight is projected for late April or early May 1964. The remaining flights in the program are to be at roughly two-month intervals from then until the middle of 1965.
The Manned Spacecraft Center directed North American to design and develop an emergency parachute system for flight test vehicles. These vehicles, both half-size and full-size, are required for Phase II-A of the Paraglider Development Program. The Manned Spacecraft Center authorized North American to subcontract the emergency recovery system to the Radioplane Division of the Northrop Corporation.
The Marshall Space Flight Center composed a procurement schedule for the Agena target vehicles, to be delivered to the Gemini Project Office.
Westinghouse Electric Corporation of Baltimore received a $6.8 million subcontract from McDonnell. Westinghouse will provide the rendezvous radar and transponder system for the Gemini craft. The transponder is to be located in the Agena target vehicle.
Harold I Johnson, head of the Spacecraft Operations Branch (Flight Crew Operations Division of the Manned Spacecraft Center), circulated a memorandum on proposed training devices. The mission simulator should be capable of replicating a complete mission profile including sight, sound, and vibration cues, and be initially identical to the spacecraft, mission control, and remote site displays.
Training for launch and re-entry is to be provided by the centrifuge at the Naval Air Development Center (Johnsville, Pennsylvania), with a gondola set up to replicate the Gemini spacecraft interior. A static article is to serve as egress trainer. A boilerplate spacecraft with paraglider wing, used in a program including helicopter drops, will provide experience in landing on dry land. A docking trainer, fitted with actual hardware, capable of motion in six degrees of freedom, is to be used for docking operations training. And other trainers would be used for prepare for specific tasks.
The first regular business meeting between the Gemini Project Office and McDonnell occurred. Subsequent meetings are scheduled for the Monday, Tuesday, and Friday of each week. The initial coordination meetings had been held February 19, and introduction meetings were held the 19th, 21st, 23rd, 27th, and 28th. The objective of these meetings is to discuss and settle differences in decision-making about the project.
The Manned Spacecraft Center allotts $5.2 million to the Marshall Space Flight Center, so that it could procure Atlas-Agena vehicles to be used for Project Gemini.
Marshall is not to spend more than $2 million until a Statement of Work is made definite.
Regularly scheduled meetings are planned to resolve technical and management problems between the Manned Spacecraft Center and Marshall.