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  G-VII Collection


Gemini Titan VII

"We're on our way, Frank!" This photograph shows the Gemini VII spacecraft viewed from Gemini VI-A during their historic rendezvous.  Astronauts Lovell, Schirra and Stafford have autographed it for me. Photo Credit: NASA
Gemini VII Spacecraft Viewed From Gemini VIThe next mission after Gemini V was supposed to be Gemini VI.  Due to the loss of Gemini VI's intended rendezvous target, Gemini Titan VII was moved ahead of Gemini Titan VI in the launch schedule.

The commander chosen for Gemini VII was Frank Frederick Borman, II.  Selected, as his pilot was James Arthur Lovell, Jr.

The primary mission objective of Gemini VII was to stretch the mission duration to 14 days. This was well beyond the 8 days that had been achieved by Gemini V.

A Gemini spacecraft was a very small place in which to confine two people for that length of time.  Cooper and Conrad had become bored and inundated with trash during their 8 day mission.  There wasn't enough storage room inside the Gemini V spacecraft for them to store their empty food containers and other accumulated refuse.

Mission planning for Gemini VII would need to solve this issue with storage. A plan was devised and tested where the trash would be stored behind the Gemini's ejection seats.

A new type of spacesuit was created to make the astronauts more comfortable during their two week stay in space.  Previously the astronauts were not able to remove their spacesuits during flight. The suits were just too bulky to take off and put back on in a cramped spacecraft.

The new suits did not use hard fiberglass helmets attached by neck rings like the old suits had.  Instead, a zippered hood was created.  The new suit design also removed the corset material that kept the old suits from ballooning when they were pressurized.  The inflation issue was not a problem for Gemini VII since no EVAs were planned.

Borman and Lovell experienced a successful launch with Gemini Titan VII on December 4, 1965.  At the moment of liftoff, Astronaut Lovell shouted,
"We're on our way, Frank!"

The monotony of their long duration mission was broken by a visit from another spacecraft.  The original Gemini VI mission was renamed to Gemini VI-A and its rendezvous target became Borman and Lovell's Gemini VII spacecraft.

Walter Marty Schirra, Jr., and Thomas Patten Stafford achieved a successful rendezvous with Gemini VII.  The spacecraft were so close together during this exercise that the crews were able to see each other through their spacecraft windows.

Having achieved their rendezvous objective, Schirra and Stafford departed and returned to Earth.  Borman and Lovell still had several days remaining in their grueling mission of endurance.

13 days, 18 hours, 35 minutes, and 1 second after its launch, Gemini VII splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean on December 18. The prime recovery ship was the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Wasp.

Borman and Lovell were elated to be able to leave the confines of the Gemini spacecraft.  A battery of post flight medical tests proved that Borman and Lovell suffered no ill effects from their extended time in space. This was a good indication that men could survive a trip to the moon and back.

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UPDATED : January 8, 2007
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