“The selection procedures for Project Mercury were directed by a NASA selection committee, consisting of Charles Donlan, a senior management engineer; Warren North, a test pilot engineer; Stanley White and William Argerson, flight surgeons; Allen Gamble and Robert Voas psychologists; and George Ruff and Edwin Levy, psychiatrists. The committee recognized that the unusual conditions associated with spaceflight are similar to those experienced by military test pilots. In January 1959, the committee received and screened 508 service records of a group of talented test pilots, from which 110 candidates were assembled. Less than one month later, through a variety of interviews and a battery of written tests, the NASA selection committee pared down this group to 32 candidates.
“Each candidate endured even more stringent physical, psychological, and mental examinations, including total body x-rays, pressure suit tests, cognitive exercises, and a series of unnerving interviews. Of the 32 candidates, 18 were recommended for Project Mercury without medical reservations. On April 1, 1959, Robert Gilruth, the head of the Space Task Group, and Donlan, North, and White selected the first American astronauts. The “Mercury Seven” were Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., John H. Glenn, Jr., Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Alan B. Shepard, Jr., and Donald K. “Deke” Slayton.”
—40th Anniversary of the Selection of the Mercury Seven http://history.nasa.gov/40thmerc7/intro.htm
21 August 1965: At 9:00 a.m., Eastern Standard Time (13:59:59.518 UTC), Gemini V lifted off from Launch Complex 19 at Cape Kennedy, Florida. On board the spacecraft were L. Gordon Cooper, Command Pilot, and Charles (“Pete”) Conrad, Jr. The purpose of the mission was to demonstrate manned orbital flight for a period of 8 days. During the launch, tehcrew experienced a maximum acceleration of 7.6 g.
Five minutes, 56.91 seconds after liftoff, the Gemini spacecraft was placed in a 87.4 × 188.9 nautical mile elliptical orbit with a velocity of 25,805 feet/second, inclined from Earth’s axis by 32.59°, orbiting once every 89.59 minutes. At 56:00 ground elapsed time (g.e.t.), the crew performed an orbital maneuver which increased the minimum orbital altitude (perigee) to 92 nautical miles. The orbital period increased very slightly to 89.68 minutes.
The heater for the liquid oxygen supply of one of the two fuel cells failed at 25:51 g.e.t. The gaseous oxygen pressure began to decline from 853 psi to 70 over the next four hours. The crew powered down he spacecraft until it could be determined that the fuel cells could provide sufficient electrical power to continue the mission. Power was restored slowly over ten orbits.
During the third day, the crew practiced orbital maneuvers for upcoming Agena rendezvous and docking missions. 16 of 17 planned experiments were carried out over the course of the mission.
Reentery deceleration was 7.1 g. The actual landing point was 89 nautical miles short of predicted, at N. 29° 47′, W. 69° 45′. Total duration of the Gemini V mission was 190:55:17. The spacecraft and crew were recovered by the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain (CVS -39).
The two-man Gemini spacecraft was built by the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation of St. Louis, the same company that built the earlier Mercury space capsule. The spacecraft consisted of a reentry module and an adapter section. It had an overall length of 19 feet (5.791 meters) and a diameter of 10 feet (3.048 meters) at the base of the adapter section. The reentry module was 11 feet (3.353 meters) long with a diameter of 7.5 feet (2.347 meters). The weight of the Gemini varied from ship to ship. At launch. Gemini Spacecraft 5 weighed 7,947.17 pounds (3,604.78 kilograms). At touchdown, after the parachute was jettisoned, it weighed 4,244.75 pounds (1,925.39 kilograms).
The Titan II GLV was a “man-rated” variant of the Martin SM-68B intercontinental ballistic missile. It was assembled at Martin’s Middle River, Maryland plant so as not to interfere with the production of the ICBM at Denver, Colorado. Twelve GLVs were ordered by the Air Force for the Gemini Program.
The Titan II GLV was a two-stage, liquid-fueled rocket. The first stage was 63 feet (19.202 meters) long with a diameter of 10 feet (3.048 meters). The second stage was 27 feet (8.230 meters) long, with the same diameter. The 1st stage was powered by an Aerojet Engineering Corporation LR-87-7 engine which combined two combustion chambers and exhaust nozzles with a single turbopump unit. The engine was fueled by a hypergolic combination of hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide. Ignition occurred spontaneously as the two components were combined in the combustion chambers. The LR-87-7 produced 430,000 pounds of thrust. It was not throttled and could not be shut down and restarted. The 2nd stage used an Aerojet LR-91 engine which produced 100,000 pounds of thrust.
The Gemini 5/Titan II GLV-5 combination had a total height of 109 feet (33.223 meters) and weighed 344,685 pounds (156,346 kilograms) when at first stage ignition.