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Gemini Titan V

"Eight Days Or Bust" This photo, autographed by Astronaut Gordon Cooper, shows him being hoisted up to the recovery helicopter during the recovery of Gemini V. 
Photo Credit: NASA
Autographed Photo Of Astronaut Gordon
                          Cooper Being Recovered After Gemini VThe EVA on Gemini IV by Ed White was very successful.  It had proved that man could survive in the space environment wearing only a spacesuit.

Other questions remained to be answered. Rendezvous was a big question mark after the failed attempts on Gemini IV.  Longer mission duration's would also need to be tested.  Four days was not enough time to get to the Moon and back.

The next mission in the Gemini program was scheduled to be Gemini Titan V.  The crew selected for this mission was commander Leroy Gordon (Gordon) Cooper, Jr. and pilot Charles Peter (Pete) Conrad, Jr.

One objective for this mission was to rendezvous with a pod ejected from the Gemini spacecraft after it reached orbit. 

Another objective was to lengthen the amount of time that the crew remained in orbit.  The goal would be to stay in space for eight-days.

A new electrical supply system was added to the Gemini spacecraft to support that length of stay.  This system used a technology called fuel cells. Fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity with water as a by-product.  Fuel cell technology was needed because batteries could not supply enough power for long duration missions.

Recognizing the prime objective for the Gemini V mission, Cooper created a patch for the crew to wear on their spacesuits.  This patch featured a covered wagon with the slogan "Eight Days Or Bust".

NASA was very concerned about the public relations problems that might occur if the mission did not achieve an eight day mission.  Headlines everywhere would be calling the mission a bust. For this reason, Cooper was forced to modify the patch design.  He was able to keep the covered wagon but the slogan was removed.

Gemini Titan V lifted off with Cooper and Conrad on August 21, 1965.  Liftoff was smooth but the boost phase was a little rough.  Gemini Titan V experienced a phenomenon particular to liquid fueled rockets called pogo.  Pogo is an effect caused by resonance between the engines and the fuel supply system.  As the name implies pogo causes longitudinal vibrations in the vehicle resembling a pogo stick.

Despite the problem, Cooper and Conrad achieved a successful orbit.  The rendezvous pod was ejected from the Gemini V spacecraft soon after it entered orbit.   A problem arose with the new fuel cells
before a rendezvous could be attempted

The pressure in them was lower than expected and it was dropping.  Heaters were turned on with the expectation of raising the pressure. The pressure still kept dropping.   Facing the probability of loosing the electrical production from the fuel cells, Cooper and Conrad powered down their spacecraft.

The opportunity for rendezvous with the pod was lost.  The good news for the mission was that the fuel cells stabilized and continued to operate even with the reduced pressure.  Cooper and Conrad were given the go ahead to power the spacecraft back up.

Although the objective with the rendezvous pod was lost, an alternative objective was created. Cooper was able to demonstrate through maneuvers that he could arrive at a preselected position in space with reasonable accuracy.  This activity simulated rendezvous even though there was no physical target.

After 7 days, 22 hours, 55 minutes, and 14 seconds, Gemini V splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean.  Cooper and Conrad had met their objective for an eight-day mission.

This spaceflight duration also wrested away the duration record away from the Soviet Union.  Prior to this point in the race to the Moon, that record that had always been held by a Soviet cosmonaut.

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UPDATED : January 8, 2007
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