OTD: Gemini V launched on a Titan II

On August 21, Gemini V launched on a Titan II, 10 a.m., EDT, Cape Canaveral, Fla. This was the third crewed Gemini flight. In Greek, Gemini means “Twins” and aptly this flight carried two astronauts: Gordon L. Cooper, Jr. and Charles “Pete” P. Conrad, Jr.

They were on an eight-day mission. NASA Deputy Administrator Hugh Dryden summed up the success of Gemini V in a Sept. 11, 1965 report to President Lyndon Johnson.

“The primary objective of the Gemini V mission was to demonstrate man’s ability to function in the space environment for eight days and to qualify the spacecraft systems under these conditions,” he said. “The adaptability of the human body was indicated by the performance of the astronauts. This has assured us of man’s capability to travel to the moon and return.”

It also helped NASA learn how much fuel was needed for space journeys. It was the first use of fuel cells for supplying spacecraft power during a manned flight.

The mission was a success, and Cooper and Conrad returned to Earth on Aug. 29, 1965. During the flight of Gemini V, Cooper and Conrad set a record with their eight-day orbital flight. Progress marches on, and their record was broken mere months later.

Space Center Houston is fortunate to have the actual flown Gemini V spacecraft on display on loan from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

In these images:

Astronauts Charles Conrad Jr. (left), pilot, and L. Gordon Cooper Jr., command pilot, were the prime crew for the Gemini-Titan 5 mission.

Inside the space capsule: Astronauts L. Gordon Cooper Jr. (foreground) and Charles Conrad Jr. are pictured in their Gemini-5 spacecraft moments before the hatches are closed. 

Fun Fact: Gemini V astronauts Cooper and Conrad also were the first to design an insignia patch for their flight. The original version featured a Conestoga covered wagon, noting the pioneering effort of Gemini. On the side was the slogan “8 Days or Bust.”

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