Author Topic: Big Gemini  (Read 35164 times)

Offline Blackstar

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Big Gemini
« on: 04/18/2015 08:41 PM »
While doing some work on MOL I started to wonder about Big Gemini. I've seen lots of references to it, including a good summary on a website.

I'm looking for original source materials. Anybody know about any official reports on Big Gemini?

Online Phillip Clark

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #1 on: 04/18/2015 08:50 PM »
I bet Frank Borman and Jim Lovell would have liked on of those! :0

Offline Ronpur50

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #2 on: 04/18/2015 11:43 PM »
I have seen a model kit of it.  Wasn't it supposed to be launched on a Saturn 1b?

I knew I had this document.
« Last Edit: 04/19/2015 12:24 AM by Ronpur50 »

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #3 on: 04/19/2015 07:43 PM »
http://books.google.fr/books/about/Logistic_Spacecraft_System_Evolving_from.html?id=jTP4QgAACAAJ&redir_esc=y

The official, seven volumes report about Big Gemini is dated 1969 and the exact name  is

Logistic spacecraft system evolving from Gemini

If anybody ever find that document and turn it into a Pdf, I'll mary him   :o I'd be ready to pay a lot of bucks even for the condensed summary, damn it.

P.S I had once tracked the documents to collections of the John P. Mc Govern library, Houston, Texas.
http://library.tmc.edu/mcgovern/
Unfortunately since then the link has died. Still, maybe the Big Gemini report is still there. Someone on the right side of the Atlantic (I live on the wrong side) should go to that library and do a search.

http://mcgovern.library.tmc.edu/data/www/html/collect/Institution/NASAAll/AllMiss.pdf

Shazam !! I had cut-and-pasted the document  (fortunately, since the link is dead)



Beside that I've a collection of documents such as GAO reports where Big Gemini is mentionned as an alternative to the shuttle.
« Last Edit: 04/20/2015 05:48 AM by Archibald »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #4 on: 04/20/2015 01:44 PM »
I get to Houston from time to time, so a research visit to that collection is possible. Who knows how many pages it is to copy, however? But thanks for the tip.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #5 on: 04/20/2015 06:28 PM »
There's a case to be made that Big Gemini was the prefered option had  the shuttle been cancelled in the 70-72 era - if the OMB rejected any form of winged vehicle (including a scaled-up DynaSoar glider atop a fat Titan III-L).

The basic reasoning was that Big Gemini was morphologically like a shuttle, that is, a cockpit flanked with a cargo section. Big Gemini was the most basic logistic space station vehicle. Apollo was not (although Apollo had a strong advantage: it was already flying).

Does anybody know if Logsdon recent book (After Apollo) ever mention Big Gemini even in passing ? does anybody know where I could download a pdf variant ?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #6 on: 04/20/2015 07:01 PM »
Does anybody know if Logsdon recent book (After Apollo) ever mention Big Gemini even in passing ? does anybody know where I could download a pdf variant ?

It does mention Big Gemini several times.

Feel free to order it via Amazon.


Offline RanulfC

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #7 on: 04/20/2015 08:59 PM »
Does anybody know if Logsdon recent book (After Apollo) ever mention Big Gemini even in passing ? does anybody know where I could download a pdf variant ?

It does mention Big Gemini several times.

Feel free to order it via Amazon.

It's only available in hard back at the moment :)

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #8 on: 04/21/2015 12:24 AM »
Does anybody know if Logsdon recent book (After Apollo) ever mention Big Gemini even in passing ? does anybody know where I could download a pdf variant ?

It does mention Big Gemini several times.

Feel free to order it via Amazon.

It's only available in hard back at the moment :)

Randy

Feel free to order it. It's a good book.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #9 on: 04/21/2015 07:00 AM »
I meant, I was ready to pay for a pdf - a e-book.
I've linked two documents related to Big Gemini. The main body of work remain the eight volume study currently not available on the web.

According to astronautix
http://web.archive.org/web/20070217102417/http://astronautix.com/craft/bigemini.htm

Quote
1969 August 21 - McDonnell Douglas Corporation, under contract to MSC, submitted an eight-volume final report on a "Big G" study. -

Offline Ronpur50

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #10 on: 04/21/2015 12:36 PM »
I meant, I was ready to pay for a pdf - a e-book.
I've linked two documents related to Big Gemini. The main body of work remain the eight volume study currently not available on the web.

According to astronautix
http://web.archive.org/web/20070217102417/http://astronautix.com/craft/bigemini.htm

Quote
1969 August 21 - McDonnell Douglas Corporation, under contract to MSC, submitted an eight-volume final report on a "Big G" study. -

The bigg67 document is the same as the one I uploaded up thread. 

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #11 on: 04/21/2015 01:52 PM »
Although the Logsdon book mentions Big G a number of times, it does not focus on it in any way. By 1970 and particularly by 1972, Big G appears to have been an afterthought and most of the discussion was around some kind of winged vehicle, either the really big one that they got, or a much smaller one that was preferred by some people at OMB and the White House. I don't know what specific concepts they were considering, but it sounds like they were talking about a vehicle that would carry about six people and use an existing rocket.

One of the issues I have with Big G--but it's really an issue I have with this 1969-1971 time period--is that we don't know how seriously it was considered. Keeping the Apollo CSM in production seems like it would have been the cheapest alternative, but it seems like NASA was so set on a shuttle that Big G and the Apollo mod may have been presented to NASA and NASA simply set them on a shelf and never seriously considered them at all.

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #12 on: 04/21/2015 05:54 PM »
Although the Logsdon book mentions Big G a number of times, it does not focus on it in any way. By 1970 and particularly by 1972, Big G appears to have been an afterthought and most of the discussion was around some kind of winged vehicle, either the really big one that they got, or a much smaller one that was preferred by some people at OMB and the White House. I don't know what specific concepts they were considering, but it sounds like they were talking about a vehicle that would carry about six people and use an existing rocket.

One of the issues I have with Big G--but it's really an issue I have with this 1969-1971 time period--is that we don't know how seriously it was considered. Keeping the Apollo CSM in production seems like it would have been the cheapest alternative, but it seems like NASA was so set on a shuttle that Big G and the Apollo mod may have been presented to NASA and NASA simply set them on a shelf and never seriously considered them at all.

Looking at what was being "discussed" in concepts and modeling it was pretty clear that NASA wanted the "big" shuttle to build and service a space station and other LEO assets in the "full-traffic" model. Which of course would have required a budget increase over Apollo and was rather obviously not in the cards, but I get the feeling that nothing OTHER than the "big" shuttle was seriously considered. And with a big winged booster to go with it.

What I got out of all this was the idea that Apollo, while a huge achievement and something everyone was proud of was pretty much considered an interim, "kludge" that got us to the Moon in "less than a decade" but was never really considered a 'viable' long term launch system even with its origins in the Project Horizon study.

Underlying all the reasoning was the simple fact that everyone from the "top" down (all the Space Cadets anyway :) ) KNEW how the entire scenario was supposed to go:
First you built a surface to LEO shuttle craft, then you used to build a space station where you then built space-to-space ships for going to the Moon and Mars, etc, on a regular basis and it went on from there. It was all straight forward and laid out how it SHOULD be done and the entire Apollo experience had thrown that out of whack...

And yet to do ANY of the things the "right" way you either had to proceed very slowly and steadily over a long period of time (because there was no money or support for doing things "fast" under the circumstances) or you had to get an "Apollo-priority" level commitment to putting up the basic infrastructure in a short time. The former was obviously the scenario and in fact planning of how things were going to happen as evidenced by VonBraun and everyone else's writing and such right up until Kennedy demanded the Moon. After that it seemed everyone was blinded by the money and resources being thrown at Apollo, but there was an "assumption" that once we got to the Moon those same resources and money would be available to do things "right"...

After 1969 just TRY telling anyone interested in "space" that we should be on Mars within century or so :)
And those in NASA were, it appears, even less capable of seeing the reality over what they wished to see.

I'm of the mind that the awesome power and capability of the Saturn-V, but with its very obvious "not-the-"right"-way-to-do-things" being up in everyone's face led to a logic-trap solution. Once your "on" the Moon then Mars simply can't be a "century-or-more" away, so if the "method" you got there isn't exactly right then fixing it can't take more than a decade or so... I'm sure everyone can follow the logic but what it ends up being is that in order to get the "right" vehicle and the "right" system set up you have to make the assumption (and its not that great of a leap if you've lived through the run up to Apollo-11 and euphoria that permeated NASA and most Space Cadets) that Space will remain a "National Priority" it was for Apollo. With all the funding and support that entails.

But Nixon pointed out that NASA (and space) had to take a place lower in priority and lesser in the national scheme of things which in NO way fit into the "logic" as seen by those in and around NASA. So you're right it seems that any suggestion of a "solution" that didn't fit the specific idea was pretty much "Ho-hum" (yawn) "Yes, very nice we'll file it and get back to you"...

Unfortunately this included everything developed and used for the Apollo program as well.

Flyback S1C? Nope, not the "right" vehicle, shelved. Big Gemini? Nope, not the right "way" to do a ferry and way to small, shelved. Saturn-1? Nope, wrong all around and obsolete, shelved. And on and on. (The kicker is things like the SERV which was "rejected" simply because it wasn't a WINGED shuttle and didn't need a booster. Never the "official" reason of course but even assuming that no one at NASA believed that an SSTO was possible at the time the utility as the first stage of a reusable TSTO should NOT have been lost on anyone :) )

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #13 on: 04/21/2015 06:07 PM »
...It was all straight forward and laid out how it SHOULD be done...

Randy, I'd like to offer a note that applies to both your analysis of what NASA was thinking at the time (which I find relatively sound) and also, to an extent, what I've seen many people (myself included, I would imagine) state here, on a number of topics:

The word "SHOULD" is the most dangerous word in the English language.  It is almost always a device to try and impose your own opinion onto a situation, regardless of the merits of your opinion vs. the merits of any other opinion.  It is never, ever a valid logical argument.

Just sayin'...
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #14 on: 04/21/2015 06:51 PM »
RanulfC, you don't have to use quotation marks unless you're quoting somebody.

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #15 on: 04/21/2015 07:02 PM »
...It was all straight forward and laid out how it SHOULD be done...

Randy, I'd like to offer a note that applies to both your analysis of what NASA was thinking at the time (which I find relatively sound) and also, to an extent, what I've seen many people (myself included, I would imagine) state here, on a number of topics:

The word "SHOULD" is the most dangerous word in the English language.  It is almost always a device to try and impose your own opinion onto a situation, regardless of the merits of your opinion vs. the merits of any other opinion.  It is never, ever a valid logical argument.

Just sayin'...

Hah! It's ALWAYS a "valid" logical argument though! After all if one feels that "their" particular "should" be the only valid one.... :::grin:::

"The" problem of course is the "right" way had been expounded upon and articulated over and over again to those who were (at this point) making things happen and they believed it to be the "valid" path. So much so that "other" paths were rejected right up until the moment when a decision had to be made (getting to the Moon in less than a decade) and an alternate path WAS in fact chosen.

Going back and "fixing" things would of course 'seems' like a good idea...
(Heck it's STILL a good "idea" in general but we've had over half a century to try and get over slavishly following all the details and we're STILL not there yet :) )

We're getting to the point now, 50+ years after the "right" way was engrained in everyone's mind, where we are getting the beginnings in place for a reliable and economic surface-to-orbit system that we don't throw away every flight. The Shuttle was exactly what it was supposed to be, a first generation system to "test-the-waters" but not the ultimate vehicle it was supposed to be. We can probably look forward to a number of different systems at some point in the "near" future which will explore other paths but overall its still ONLY the first step. We're pretty much going to be doing for the next 50 years what we would have been doing for the last 50 years if we'd proceeded on a steady pace from Mercury to the Moon if Kennedy hadn't come along.

But it's unrealistic to even think that given regular access to LEO that we're going to do the very slow, incremental build up as was envisioned 50 years ago. Someone, somewhere is always going to be leaping ahead with the technology available. (Elon if no one else and I doubt he'd be the only one given the chance)

"I" will say it straight out but there's no way anyone at the time could have probably seen this; Going back and doing things the "right" way SHOULD never have been an option. Despite the overall "kludge" nature of Apollo and all its hardware we HAD a serious and very capable system that could have been adapted to our growing needs as long as we could stand up to the fact that the overall priority, support and resources available was going to dwindle significantly.

But I believe it was FAR to much to ask of people who had seen their dreams come alive around them even if it wasn't the way they had imagined it would have done so. THEY believed and in doing so they invested a great deal of belief in others who in fact did NOT share their dreams and visions and I don't believe that they could have stepped back and taken in the true nature of the reality they lived in and the bubble which had allowed their vision to come about and come to any conclusion other than the one they did. The will to believe things had never fundamentally changed was not present aberration of Apollo blinded everyone to that truth.

What has all this to do with Big-G and the lack of documentation? Very little other than giving some reasoning why it along with others was ignored and discarded actually :) And all just "IMHO" in any case, but...

I'll say that I've always thought Big-G was TOO much of a kludge to be operational. Really it always seem to me that McDonnell was trying to play up the fact that it was "based" on Gemini to much and not willing to "move-on" which for all intents was what they would have to do to get an operational spacecraft anyway.

Take the parts that worked and throw them into a NEW spacecraft as NOBODY seemed "fooled" by the idea that it would be a "simple" evolution of the Gemini.

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #16 on: 04/21/2015 07:04 PM »
RanulfC, you don't have to use quotation marks unless you're quoting somebody.

Yes I've fallen back into that habit and will try and remedy it. Sorry.
(Doesn't count if I'm quoting myself I suppose :) )

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline sghill

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #17 on: 04/21/2015 07:16 PM »
As long as we're on the topic of Big Gemini, it's worth pointing out the "Advanced Gemini" concepts and the "Lunar Gemini" evolved concepts for NSF members who may not know of those paper programs. 

My opinion is that pre-Apollo Lunar Gemini was taken more seriously than post-Apollo Big Gemini by NASA.

Wired did a great article back in 2012 on it.  http://www.wired.com/2012/05/gemini-on-the-moon-1962/

For what it's worth, I don't see Lunar Gemini working out.  The pilot couldn't see behind him out to land, and there wasn't really any room for doffing and donning lunar excursion suits and generally moving about.  I guess they would have put their suits on when they launched and removed them when they landed with a tube and valve for removing the poop...
« Last Edit: 04/21/2015 07:29 PM by sghill »
Bring the thunder Elon!

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #18 on: 04/21/2015 07:58 PM »
RanulfC, you don't have to use quotation marks unless you're quoting somebody.

Yes I've fallen back into that habit and will try and remedy it. Sorry.
(Doesn't count if I'm quoting myself I suppose :) )

Randy

Also, remember: 13-year-old girls are allowed an unlimited number of exclamation marks in whatever they write, but each adult is allocated only one per year.

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #19 on: 04/21/2015 08:05 PM »
RanulfC, you don't have to use quotation marks unless you're quoting somebody.

Yes I've fallen back into that habit and will try and remedy it. Sorry.
(Doesn't count if I'm quoting myself I suppose :) )

Randy

Also, remember: 13-year-old girls are allowed an unlimited number of exclamation marks in whatever they write, but each adult is allocated only one per year.

That's right!

Oh, crap -- now I'm out of them for a year...
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

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