Gemini 7 Fact Sheet

By Cliff Lethbridge

Gemini 7 (NASA Code: GT-7)

Launch Date: December 4, 1965

Launch Time: 2:30:03 p.m. EST

Launch Site: Launch Complex 19

Launch Vehicle: Gemini-Titan II GLV-7 (GT-7)

Capsule: Gemini Spacecraft Number 7

Capsule Nickname: None

Frank Borman, Command Pilot
James A. Lovell, Jr., Pilot

Back-up Crew: White, Collins

Mission Duration: 13 Days, 18 Hours, 35 Minutes, 1 Second

Number of Orbits: 206

Recovery Date: December 18, 1965

Recovery: U.S.S. Wasp (Atlantic Ocean)

Mission Summary:

Still considered a long-duration flight, Gemini 7 rivals even the Space Shuttle in terms of length of stay in orbit for a single vehicle.

Shortly after the Gemini 7 spacecraft separated from the Titan II second stage, the crew maneuvered to within about 60 feet of the spent Titan II second stage and completed about 15 minutes of stationkeeping activities.

The crew then prepared for the longest planned Gemini flight, performing a total of 20 experiments and five Orbital Attitude Maneuvering System (OAMS) tests, including an OAMS burn to place the Gemini 7 spacecraft on the proper orbit to act as a rendezvous target for the Gemini 6A spacecraft.

Rendezvous between the two spacecraft was completed on the 11th day of the mission. While this rendezvous was not originally planned, it proved to be one of the most exciting milestones in the U.S. space program. The two spacecraft passed within one foot of each other during the world’s first rendezvous of two manned space vehicles.

Gemini 7 also marked the first time portions of a U.S. space flight were conducted without the crew wearing protective pressurized spacesuits. Gemini 7 introduced a new spacesuit, which although lighter, was quite uncomfortable when worn for long periods.

As a test, astronaut Lovell removed his pressurized spacesuit about 45 hours after launch. He put it on again about 148 hours after launch, at which time astronaut Borman removed his.

About 20 hours later, astronaut Lovell again removed his pressurized spacesuit, and both astronauts completed their space flight without the pressurized spacesuits on, with the exception of rendezvous and re-entry operations. Both astronauts brought along books to read, heeding the advice given by astronaut Conrad after Gemini 5.

The Gemini 7 capsule splashed down just 6.4 miles away from its primary target point, barely beating the existing Gemini program record of seven miles achieved by Gemini 6A just two days earlier.

Note: The Soviet manned Vostok 3 and Vostok 4 capsules passed within 4 miles of each other in August, 1962 although this was not considered a rendezvous. The Vostok 3 and Vostok 4 capsules were not maneuverable.