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
Gemini VII was
Frank Frederick Borman, II. Selected, as his pilot was James
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
suits did not use hard fiberglass helmets attached
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
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
Walter Marty Schirra, Jr., and Thomas Patten Stafford achieved a
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
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