Solving Space: Gemini III Launch

Gemini III launched March 23, 1965 with Prime Crew astronauts Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom and John W. Young. NASA’s two-man Gemini spaceflights demonstrated that astronauts could change their capsule’s orbit, remain in space for at least two weeks and work outside their spacecraft–all essential skills to land on the moon and return safely to Earth. Solve Space by unscrambling this image and learn more about Gemini III, and how to see a Gemini-era spacecraft at Space Center Houston!

Learn More About It

  • “Molly Brown” was named after the Broadway musical and was a reference to Grissom’s previous Mercury craft, the Liberty Bell 7, which sank shortly after splashdown.
  • Gemini III was intended to test the new maneuverable spacecraft.
  • The crew members fired thrusters to change the shape of their orbit, shift their orbital plane slightly, and drop to a lower altitude.
  • The mission had a few thruster issues, but was considered a success.
  • The spacecraft “Molly Brown” orbited Earth three times.
  • The Gemini III tests paved the way for rendezvous missions later in the Gemini Program.
  • It proved it was possible for a lunar module to lift off the moon and dock with the lunar orbiting command module for the trip home to Earth. 
  • It also proved spacecraft could be launched to rendezvous and dock with an orbiting space station.
  • Gemini III was the mission with the infamous contraband corned beef sandwich.

About This Image

Astronauts Virgil I. Grissom and John Young stand in front of Gemini trainer prior to test at Mission Control Center.

Discover Firsts

Veteran Mercury astronaut Grissom was selected as command pilot of Gemini III, making him the first person traveling into space twice. Pilot John W. Young became the first person to make six spaceflights, including commanding Apollo 16 during which he walked on the moon. Gemini III was the first crewed Gemini flight.

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