Author Topic: Big Gemini  (Read 37411 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?

Offline 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)

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #20 on: 04/21/2015 08:05 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.


There were a bunch of different Gemini proposals ca 1963-1969. I get the impression that McDonnell was actively pushing it as much as they could. There were some circumlunar Gemini proposals.

But keep in mind that this kind of stuff annoys government agencies, particularly ones that are focused on doing a mission, have selected their technology, their approach, and their contractor, and don't want to be lobbied. NASA eventually shut down the Gemini lunar proposals. The reason was that they found them distracting. They had picked Apollo and they were working on Apollo, and they didn't need to also be dealing with constant lobbying to use Gemini instead/in addition to what they were already doing.

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #21 on: 04/21/2015 08:37 PM »
Of all the Gemini variants and missions that MD was pushing, the circumlunar Gemini was the most likely to fly.  It required very little modification to the Gemini spacecraft itself (mostly a beefed-up heatshield and a directional antenna to hang out of the equipment module), and could follow mission procedures that had been proven during the mainline Gemini program.

Other variants, including Big G and Lunar Landing Gemini, were far less likely to be pursued in reality, as they would have required significant investments that would have had to come from Apollo funding, and that wasn't going to happen.  But attaching a TDA to a Centaur and using it as a TLI stage (a technique that had been proven, if not with enough power to perform a TLI, with Gemini-Agena) was very achievable.  At that time, though, they thought that Apollo would be flying that type of flight (and, moreso, going into lunar orbit) within a year and a half of the end of Gemini, and so saw no point in it.
« Last Edit: 04/21/2015 08:39 PM by the_other_Doug »
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #22 on: 04/21/2015 08:53 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.

What. When did that rule come into effect. Wait... You're right. I can't exclaim anymore. This is terrible.

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 #23 on: 04/21/2015 09:00 PM »
Gemini was definitely better than Mercury, but would not have been as capable overall as Apollo was supposed to be. It pretty much WAS an interim orbital spacecraft and, (no matter how cool I think it looked :) ) didn't have much general use beyond that but it DID do its job really well despite a lot of drawbacks inevitable with such an interim design.

I don't suppose even at the time it would have been appropriate or possible to pitch something beyond Apollo given the idea that "Apollo" was going to be pretty much what came after Apollo. (In other words AAP)

Still MD did seven (7) volumes of study trying to pitch what NASA didn't want and I wonder how much more luck they would have had if the effort had been invested in what NASA was interested in?

I wonder what Big-G would have looked like as a biconic, lifting body or shuttle concept instead?

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 #24 on: 04/21/2015 09:18 PM »
Of all the Gemini variants and missions that MD was pushing, the circumlunar Gemini was the most likely to fly.  It required very little modification to the Gemini spacecraft itself (mostly a beefed-up heatshield and a directional antenna to hang out of the equipment module), and could follow mission procedures that had been proven during the mainline Gemini program.

Other variants, including Big G and Lunar Landing Gemini, were far less likely to be pursued in reality, as they would have required significant investments that would have had to come from Apollo funding

I agree that circumlunar Gemini was probably the most realistic of all their proposals. But of course there could have been devils in those details. For instance, maybe the bigger heatshield would have forced changes in the center of gravity, which would have forced changes in the attitude control system, etc. Systems engineering can be a devil.

I think there were several circumlunar Gemini proposals and at least initially it was pitched as an insurance policy in case that Apollo had big problems. But one of the issues against it was that NASA only had so many people, and they had to monitor programs. Create two programs to go to the Moon instead of simply Apollo and it increased their work tremendously.

I would point out, however, that there is an important difference between these lunar Gemini concepts and Big G. Most of the lunar proposals were not solicited or paid for by NASA. This was McDonnell trying to horn in on other people's business. Big G was proposed as a new vehicle at a time when NASA was going to be looking for a new vehicle. It may have been unsolicited, but there was a reason for it. And I think it could have had a chance if NASA was forced to adopt a lower cost option than the shuttle.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #25 on: 04/21/2015 09:22 PM »
Gemini was definitely better than Mercury, but would not have been as capable overall as Apollo was supposed to be. It pretty much WAS an interim orbital spacecraft and, (no matter how cool I think it looked :) ) didn't have much general use beyond that but it DID do its job really well despite a lot of drawbacks inevitable with such an interim design.


This is something that is often lost by Gemini enthusiasts--Gemini was a good vehicle for its limited niche, which was an interim vehicle to accomplish certain engineering tasks. But it was nowhere near as capable as Apollo. Apollo could carry more people, it could dock, it had a hatch, it had a powerful rocket (too powerful for Earth orbit operations, by the way), and it could carry extra instruments in its SIM bay.

I think that no matter what McDonnell did, they were pushing a vehicle with inherent limitations such as small size and no docking hatch. Simply trying to get it to do things that Apollo could do required substantial redesign.

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #26 on: 04/21/2015 09:42 PM »
>snipage<
I would point out, however, that there is an important difference between these lunar Gemini concepts and Big G. Most of the lunar proposals were not solicited or paid for by NASA. This was McDonnell trying to horn in on other people's business. Big G was proposed as a new vehicle at a time when NASA was going to be looking for a new vehicle. It may have been unsolicited, but there was a reason for it. And I think it could have had a chance if NASA was forced to adopt a lower cost option than the shuttle.

I agree somewhat but disagree more so :)

As noted in the next post the main issue was the Gemini WAS an interim vehicle and what NASA really wanted wasn't something "like" Apollo but different as it were. And the orbital ferry Big-G was pretty much going head-to-head with an Apollo ferry with very few inherent advantages (and more than a few flaws as noted) by sticking with the overall Gemini design. As a cockpit design I think Gemini had some points but you need the REST of the vehicle to make it click and I don't see Big-G as that vehicle...
(Though I'm thinking around that same time was when someone came up with that whole Mars mission where the "lander" was a winged stage with a Gemini capsule on the front :) )

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 Patchouli

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #27 on: 04/22/2015 07:03 AM »
>snipage<
I would point out, however, that there is an important difference between these lunar Gemini concepts and Big G. Most of the lunar proposals were not solicited or paid for by NASA. This was McDonnell trying to horn in on other people's business. Big G was proposed as a new vehicle at a time when NASA was going to be looking for a new vehicle. It may have been unsolicited, but there was a reason for it. And I think it could have had a chance if NASA was forced to adopt a lower cost option than the shuttle.

I agree somewhat but disagree more so :)

As noted in the next post the main issue was the Gemini WAS an interim vehicle and what NASA really wanted wasn't something "like" Apollo but different as it were. And the orbital ferry Big-G was pretty much going head-to-head with an Apollo ferry with very few inherent advantages (and more than a few flaws as noted) by sticking with the overall Gemini design. As a cockpit design I think Gemini had some points but you need the REST of the vehicle to make it click and I don't see Big-G as that vehicle...
(Though I'm thinking around that same time was when someone came up with that whole Mars mission where the "lander" was a winged stage with a Gemini capsule on the front :) )

Randy

I wouldn't say the advantages of Big-G over the Apollo ferry were few it would have been almost like a US version of the Soviet TKS but with more crew and own mass capacity.
Since the docking hardware was on the back module it would be easier to change the docking system without messing with systems in the reentry vehicle.
For LEO operations it would have be a much more capable vehicle.
Apollo probably could not do half the things the Shuttle did in LEO but Big-G could have done maybe 80% of it's missions by changing the back module for different mission requirements.
« Last Edit: 04/22/2015 07:16 AM by Patchouli »

Offline Jim

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #28 on: 04/22/2015 01:15 PM »

I wouldn't say the advantages of Big-G over the Apollo ferry were few it would have been almost like a US version of the Soviet TKS but with more crew and own mass capacity.
Since the docking hardware was on the back module it would be easier to change the docking system without messing with systems in the reentry vehicle.

For LEO operations it would have be a much more capable vehicle.
Apollo probably could not do half the things the Shuttle did in LEO but Big-G could have done maybe 80% of it's missions by changing the back module for different mission requirements.


Untrue and unsubstantiated.   Typical claims of Big-G supporters.  Since Big-G never had a fixed and final configuration, it could morph into anything the supporters wanted.    The 80% is pure nonsense.   Apollo was a far more capability vehicle in any orbit.

Offline Antilope7724

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #29 on: 04/22/2015 02:05 PM »
North American Rockwell appears to be doing what McDonnell Aircraft
did with Big Gemini proposals in this winged Apollo shuttle proposal that
was even patented. It was trying to keep a program alive with kludge proposals.

I see your Big Gemini and I raise you a Winged Apollo Shuttle, with swing-wings and X-15 like landing gear/skids.  :o

"Aerospace vehicle" from 1967 & 1971
https://www.google.com/patents/US3576298?dq=apollo+rockwell&hl=en&sa=X&ei=kKc3VfStBM2RyATTo4DIBg&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA

https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/pages/US3576298-1.png

https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/pages/US3576298-2.png

https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/pages/US3576298-3.png

https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/pages/US3576298-4.png

I think I have a name for it.....Apollo-Soar.  ::)
« Last Edit: 04/22/2015 02:12 PM by Antilope7724 »

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #30 on: 04/22/2015 02:53 PM »
I wouldn't say the advantages of Big-G over the Apollo ferry were few it would have been almost like a US version of the Soviet TKS but with more crew and own mass capacity.
Since the docking hardware was on the back module it would be easier to change the docking system without messing with systems in the reentry vehicle.
For LEO operations it would have be a much more capable vehicle.
Apollo probably could not do half the things the Shuttle did in LEO but Big-G could have done maybe 80% of it's missions by changing the back module for different mission requirements.

I will stick by my original assertion actually. :) As designed (even though it was never actually finalized) it would have been much more difficult to perform the functions of an Apollo-ferry. TKS was in and of itself not a very useful design and it was abandoned after never having been flown manned. (To semi-add insult to injury the orbital module went on to become the basis of several module and spacecraft but the main manned component was deemed inferior to Soyuz.)

Big Gemini was played up as having all the advantages of the Gemini being visibility, pilot friendly, and maneuverable but by loading the Gemini down with an extended manned module AND a cargo module and transferring most of the close-in maneuvering controls to a rear-mounted, single person station the very "advantages" touted were wiped out.

Big Gemini's main claim was that by replacing the Adapter/Retrograde/Equipment sections with an enlarged permanent "crew/cargo" module and that while doubling the amount of space of the Apollo CM it would retain the ballistics and capabilities of the basic Gemini spacecraft. And that was before you attached an orbital module to the back of the vehicle. Well, it's true the basic Big-G would have enough room to ferry anywhere from 9 to 12 astronauts, the vehicle could no longer be lifted by the Titan-II rocket and would require the man-rating (and upgrading) of the Titan-III rocket to lift into orbit. And then there was the fact that you couldn't transfer those astronauts to another vehicle or space station! For that you "required" the facilities and equipment of the orbital module! And with all the docking and rendezvous systems in the aft-docking station what was the 'reason' for having the "Gemini" module up front? For one thing the entire Rendezvous/Recovery, and Reentry RCS systems would have to be replaced as they were inadequate to handle the new loading so the ONLY part of the original Gemini is now the "cabin" section which isn't needed since all the actual on-orbit 'work' is now regulated to the aft-rendezvous and docking station!
(Around this point Big-G would have required someone to come up with KSP radial parachutes since the para-wing still wasn't ready to go yet :) )

Why is it the "Big Gemini" when at this point it pretty much doesn't have any Gemini parts left? :)

The Apollo CM's main and distinct advantages over Gemini was that it had all the same maneuver and on-orbit rendezvous capabilities but unlike Gemini it had more room, a means to dock AND transfer crew and a more robust overall structure, being designed from the start for Lunar as well as Orbital operations. And it had all this from the start where as Gemini had to be expanded and upgraded (pretty much completely replaced is more accurate) to gain ONLY the ability to dock and transfer.

Now the ONE advantage that Gemini had over Apollo was very obvious and something that the Apollo CM could only have after a major redesign but it wasn't something that was actually 'required' of Apollo. (Given that the two were designed almost simultaneously it was obvious that no one was even aware of this advantage till after the fact really)

Unlike Mercury before it, (and Apollo0 Gemini was designed with a more "maintenance-friendly" attitude in that the majority of its systems could be accessed from OUTSIDE the capsule! Where as any work on the systems for Apollo and Mercury had to be done INSIDE the pressure vessel which is a major PitA :) But Big-Gemini looses this from the start with the extended module and orbital module requiring all work to be done from inside the pressure vessel and only the Cabin section being able to be accessed from the outside.

The modular nature of the "orbital module" (back module) for Big-G means that really it could have been used as effectively with EITHER Apollo or "Big-G" and frankly it would have been much more effective to use Apollo due to not having to deal with a separate rendezvous and docking station as would have been required with Big-G. Apollo would have had to undergo a "trimming" process for use as an orbital ferry vehicle but that was well understood and studies and plans showed it was more cost effective than the estimates for Big-G had been. More to the point it was shown that Apollo could be applied to BOTH lunar landing missions AND LEO operations with no major changes where as Big-G (and all the modifications and upgrades required) were needed to make the Gemini capable of anything OTHER than doing what Gemini did during its program.

In the very end the BEST solution to the orbital ferry mission was to design it from a clean sheet of paper by all analysis, but if we had actually kept anything from Apollo it would have been the next best thing to build a new orbital ferry capsule using all the experience and data from Mercury, Gemini, AND Apollo but it would have been very little like any of them in the end. "Best" after that was to use the Apollo CM and a modified SM for orbital ferry and operations until the budget and political climate allowed a new orbital vehicle was authorized.

Big-G just never had enough points in its favor to have a chance of getting a green-light for production or use.

Randy
« Last Edit: 04/22/2015 02:54 PM by RanulfC »
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 #31 on: 04/22/2015 03:13 PM »
North American Rockwell appears to be doing what McDonnell Aircraft
did with Big Gemini proposals in this winged Apollo shuttle proposal that
was even patented. It was trying to keep a program alive with kludge proposals.

I see your Big Gemini and I raise you a Winged Apollo Shuttle, with swing-wings and X-15 like landing gear/skids.  :o

"Aerospace vehicle" from 1967 & 1971
https://www.google.com/patents/US3576298?dq=apollo+rockwell&hl=en&sa=X&ei=kKc3VfStBM2RyATTo4DIBg&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA

https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/pages/US3576298-1.png

https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/pages/US3576298-2.png

https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/pages/US3576298-3.png

https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/pages/US3576298-4.png

I think I have a name for it.....Apollo-Soar.  ::)

That. Would. Never. Work. :)

The design would never really "fly" as shown and any time in a wind tunnel would have proven that. Though NAR patented the design I don't think it was ever even proposed to NASA itself. Unlike Big-G which was despite a serious lack of interest :)

Since the application came in around 1967 I suspect it was included with the numerous Apollo Applications "type" patents which included a land-landing Apollo CM (with landing legs "borrowed" from the then most recent Mars lander studies) and extended/expanded Apollo CM and a "new" design that would have carried 12 astronauts in a capsule shaped like the Viking Aeroshell :)

There's another patent I can't find at the moment which shows the Apollo CM (as with this one the heat-shield is removed) which shows the SM as an integral part of the whole vehicle but there's no engine at all and just cargo and passenger space.

A much more recent (and only tangently having anything to do with the thread being only based on the Apollo CM shape) proposal had an Apollo-like CM mated to another Apollo-like CM base-to-base and the other CM was actually an SM with the engine bell capable of being covered by a folding nose cap. The point being that both CM-shapes reentered and were recovered in the same manner. Given the size/volumes involved I don't think its a particularly workable idea mind you but it's an interesting one.

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 #32 on: 04/22/2015 05:49 PM »
...Well, it's true the basic Big-G would have enough room to ferry anywhere from 9 to 12 astronauts, the vehicle could no longer be lifted by the Titan-II rocket and would require the man-rating (and upgrading) of the Titan-III rocket to lift into orbit...

Just a minor set of nits -- first the Titan IIIC was already in process to be man-rated at that time, for the MOL program.  MD had every reason to believe, in 1967 (when these design studies were generated, I believe) that MOL was going to be flown; after all, they were in the process of building Blue Gemini.  So their proposals for Big G could reasonably assume that the Titan IIIC would be available and man-rated for any of their Gemini variants.

Second, Big G (at least in the proposals I've seen) was proposed with its primary variant to be launched by a Saturn IB.  Only the secondary variant, with a smaller diameter orbital module to fit the diameter of the upper stage of the IIIC transstage, was designed for the Titan.  And, of course, the Saturn was designed from the start to be man-rated.

So, the issue of needing to spend extra funds to man-rate the potential Big G launch vehicles is rather a non-issue, I'm afraid.  Either way they went, they were looking to use boosters that were already to be man-rated.
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #33 on: 04/22/2015 06:18 PM »
...Well, it's true the basic Big-G would have enough room to ferry anywhere from 9 to 12 astronauts, the vehicle could no longer be lifted by the Titan-II rocket and would require the man-rating (and upgrading) of the Titan-III rocket to lift into orbit...

Just a minor set of nits -- first the Titan IIIC was already in process to be man-rated at that time, for the MOL program.  MD had every reason to believe, in 1967 (when these design studies were generated, I believe) that MOL was going to be flown; after all, they were in the process of building Blue Gemini.  So their proposals for Big G could reasonably assume that the Titan IIIC would be available and man-rated for any of their Gemini variants.

Second, Big G (at least in the proposals I've seen) was proposed with its primary variant to be launched by a Saturn IB.  Only the secondary variant, with a smaller diameter orbital module to fit the diameter of the upper stage of the IIIC transstage, was designed for the Titan.  And, of course, the Saturn was designed from the start to be man-rated.

So, the issue of needing to spend extra funds to man-rate the potential Big G launch vehicles is rather a non-issue, I'm afraid.  Either way they went, they were looking to use boosters that were already to be man-rated.

I sit corrected :)

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 #34 on: 05/12/2015 06:26 PM »
Two of the pages in Logsdon's book referring to Big-G. He indicates that it was under consideration as late as October 1971. Considering that it was first proposed in 1967, it was bopping around for awhile.

What I don't understand is why Big-G was more favored than a modified Apollo. The Apollo could carry 6 and Big-G in its early iteration was up to 12, but the 1971 discussion indicates they were talking about 7. So for a ballistic capsule was there some reason why NASA officials didn't like the Apollo option, which would have been cheaper?

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #35 on: 05/12/2015 08:04 PM »
My personal opinion is that Big Gemini was considered a space station logistic vehicle while Apollo was not. That was the - tenuous - difference between the two.
I mean that Big Gemini was morphologically like a space shuttle - a cockpit flanked with a cylindrical cargo section. Apollo had a large service module that couldn't hold cargo and was unuseful in low Earth orbit.

To change Apollo into a space station logistic vehicle you would need something like a MPLM on the "nose" and a much smaller service module. The MPLM is stowed below the CSM, and Apollo pick it up via a 180 degree transposition maneuver, just like they did with the Lunar Module.

As of 1967 Big Gemini was to be an interim (AAP) space station logistic vehicle to fill a gap with the coming space shuttle. As for Apollo, it was considered only for lunar flights.
« Last Edit: 05/12/2015 08:08 PM by Archibald »

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #36 on: 05/13/2015 08:52 PM »
"Big Gemini" was a mostly "ground-up" rebuild for a ferry vehicle while Apollo would have had to have some modifications to carry out the same mission. Big Gemini got started earlier due to delays in getting Apollo designs and built for the Moon but Apollo was actually the more robust design. (A given since it had to do everything Gemini could do AND the Lunar requirements as well)

I don't think Big Gemini was more "favored" but that it was more "in-the-face" with more company work and support than the Apollo at that time. I suspect that by 1971 NASA officials were pretty much aware that most of the Apollo equipment was heading for shut-down despite management an others being of a different opinion. I can't see there was a lot of effort being put forward to "save" the Apollo stuff which if it was going to happen at all should have been an obvious priority.

Big Gemini never had much "official" support that I could tell and it was never the 'baseline' ferry vehicle either. As a "compromise" if needed I can see NASA "looking" at it for an interim ferry but only if it looks like Nixon won't support the development of a purpose built "shuttle" vehicle.

Circumstances have kept me from buying the book yet but please don't let that stop you from posting about it :)

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 #37 on: 05/13/2015 10:31 PM »
I'm working on an article on Big Gemini. There's very limited material to work with. This morning I went over to NASA HQ and went through their archives to see what they had on BG. Here is one of the few things that I found.


Online mike robel

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #38 on: 05/13/2015 11:33 PM »
My impression, from Jim Orburg's latest book, is that NASA was pretty much focused only on the space shuttle and even if a better idea had been handed to them on a golden platter and with no charge, they would have rejected it.

Online mike robel

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #39 on: 05/14/2015 03:08 AM »
My impression, from Jim Orburg's latest book, is that NASA was pretty much focused only on the space shuttle and even if a better idea had been handed to them on a golden platter and with no charge, they would have rejected it.

You mean John Logsdon's book.

I posted two relevant pages up-thread. What surprised me was that Big Gemini was still in discussion as late as August-October 1971, which is quite a few years after it was initially proposed.

That's correct.  What was I thinking? Thanks!

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #40 on: 05/14/2015 07:16 AM »
Interesting document, thanks for sharing. Where do you intend to publish your article ? The Space Review maybe ?

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #41 on: 05/14/2015 03:22 PM »
oh please... don't resist !! More seriously, with the shuttle retired, there is a lot of interest for that program early history (see Logsdon book). Just as Logsdon noted, Nixon decision of building the shuttle still has consequences today through the SLS.
"Whatif the shuttle was never build" is thus a popular alternate history scenario - and a detailed history of Big Gemini would be welcomed.

http://www.alternatehistory.com/discussion/showthread.php?t=208954
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=26667.0
« Last Edit: 05/14/2015 03:29 PM by Archibald »

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #42 on: 05/14/2015 05:50 PM »
It's hard enough writing about stuff that did get built, let alone all the stuff that didn't.

"Pass it off" to David Portree maybe?

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 #43 on: 05/18/2015 10:04 PM »
Here is what is essentially the executive summary of the Big Gemini final report, produced in August 1969. The BG timeline went like this:

-summer 1967, McDonnell Douglas proposes Big Gemini spacecraft, gets NASA study contract
-December 1967, McD reports on Big G spacecraft proposal (the document I posted earlier)
-McD gets another, much more extensive study contract (probably early 1968)
-August 1969, McD produces extensive study of Big Gemini (this document is 8 volumes, I only have this 27-page summary)
-August/October 1971, NASA finally rules out Big G as an option in favor of a winged space shuttle

I'm writing all this up. It will appear in Spaceflight eventually.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #44 on: 05/20/2015 06:03 AM »
this shuttle chronology document includes information about Big Gemini

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #45 on: 05/20/2015 10:33 PM »
this shuttle chronology document includes information about Big Gemini


So the last document in the set that you provided refers to the August 1969 final report on Big G. That's the document that I provided upstream here.

The second document in your set refers to initiating that study. It says that it was initiated in mid-1968, although it took a few months to actually get approved.

I'm still slightly surprised that modified Apollo CSM doesn't appear here.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #46 on: 05/21/2015 06:09 PM »
I have a document that mention a six-man Apollo

Quote
SIX-MAN APOLLO SPACECRAFT
For those alternative space plans in which the shuttle operation
would be delayed or in which there would be no shuttle, a six-man modified
Apollo spacecraft would be used. This vehicle would have a gross
weight of 20,000 ib, a development cost of $1 billion, a first-unit cost
of $300 million, and a launch-operations cost of $73 million.
« Last Edit: 05/21/2015 06:10 PM by Archibald »

Offline Brovane

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #47 on: 05/21/2015 08:57 PM »
The thing that I find decisive for me when comparing the Apollo CSM to Big G is the logistics capability.  The Apollo CM had 218 Cubic feet of pressurized space and that was it for both crew and cargo.  The CM just didn't have a lot of space inside of it.  The Big G even with a crew of 6 has 261 cubic feet for just Cargo in the re-entry module and has a separate space for pressurized cargo space of 1571 cubic feet.  That is a lot of space which to me really makes the Big G a superior vehicle for a LEO mission to a space station.  I know the last Skylab mission in order to extend the mission they sent the Apollo CM up with basically nutrition bars stuffed in any available space they could find in the CM, because that was all they could fit in the cramped space.  Even the 5 man Apollo resulted in a design that the astronauts are stuffed inside like sardines and any landing on land you have the potentially for the upper row of couches to stroke into the astronauts sitting below. 

A interesting thought I had about "Big G" was what would have been the evolution with no Apollo program?  Would Gemini have been built as a advanced Mercury and would have Big G then evolved from Gemini still.  Basically instead of jumping to the Moon as a target during Mercury the target maybe becomes developing a Space Station.  The Saturn-1B evolves into the main launch vehicle with a Big G becoming the logistics vehicle to transport astronauts back and forth from a Space Station(s) put into orbit by a Saturn-1B. 
"Look at that! If anybody ever said, "you'll be sitting in a spacecraft naked with a 134-pound backpack on your knees charging it", I'd have said "Aw, get serious". - John Young - Apollo-16

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #48 on: 05/22/2015 04:30 PM »
The thing that I find decisive for me when comparing the Apollo CSM to Big G is the logistics capability.  The Apollo CM had 218 Cubic feet of pressurized space and that was it for both crew and cargo.  The CM just didn't have a lot of space inside of it.  The Big G even with a crew of 6 has 261 cubic feet for just Cargo in the re-entry module and has a separate space for pressurized cargo space of 1571 cubic feet.  That is a lot of space which to me really makes the Big G a superior vehicle for a LEO mission to a space station.

So what made Big G possible was that McD had developed the hatch in the heatshield for Gemini B (for the MOL program). With that developed, they then proposed adding a larger crew/cargo module behind the basic Gemini. Apollo could not do that. As a result, in order to add room to Apollo you would have to add a separate pressurized module and carry it inside the SLA, in the location where the Lunar Module was carried. The Apollo CSM then separates, turns around, and hooks up to this module. There were studies of this called the Multi Mission Module, but I have not found much about it on the net.

McD was claiming that they could extend the pressurized volume of Gemini simply by adding something behind the basic Gemini. That works in theory, but it would have resulted in a much bigger heat shield and a much heavier spacecraft. Could they have made that work? They were also essentially proposing using the Gemini as the cockpit for a larger spacecraft. And this would have been more expensive.

So, yeah, Big G was on paper much more capable than Apollo. And it did, at least theoretically, have more room for growth than Apollo. But it also represented a different design path. And they would have had to add things to Big G, like the docking port and rendezvous capability, that Apollo already had.

Offline Proponent

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #49 on: 05/22/2015 09:42 PM »
this shuttle chronology document includes information about Big Gemini


So the last document in the set that you provided refers to the August 1969 final report on Big G. That's the document that I provided upstream here.

The second document in your set refers to initiating that study. It says that it was initiated in mid-1968, although it took a few months to actually get approved.

I'm still slightly surprised that modified Apollo CSM doesn't appear here.

Apollo does get a brief mention -- albeit by its manufacturer -- on page 9 of the PDF provided by Archibald.
« Last Edit: 05/22/2015 09:43 PM by Proponent »

Offline Proponent

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #50 on: 05/22/2015 09:59 PM »
Might not a "Big A" version of Apollo been possible?  Shrink the SM -- is delta-V and consumables capabilities were far in excess of what was needed for LEO logistics -- and lengthen it to provide additional cargo and crew capability.  There was, after all, a 1966 proposal from North American for a land-landing version of Apollo carrying six.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #51 on: 05/22/2015 10:34 PM »
Might not a "Big A" version of Apollo been possible?  Shrink the SM -- is delta-V and consumables capabilities were far in excess of what was needed for LEO logistics -- and lengthen it to provide additional cargo and crew capability.  There was, after all, a 1966 proposal from North American for a land-landing version of Apollo carrying six.

Apollo was already over-powered and too big for low Earth orbit. It had the SIM bay, and you could reduce the tanks and even the engine. So yes, shrink the SM functions and then open it up with cargo space. But that's all unpressurized. To get a pressurized volume, they would have had to go with the hatch through the heat shield route.

Offline Bob Shaw

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #52 on: 05/22/2015 10:39 PM »
Actually, Big G would have had a more benign atmospheric entry than the standard capsule, so far as I can see; it would have had a significantly greater volume and a lower density, making the whole thing work better as it scaled up.

Offline Patchouli

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #53 on: 05/23/2015 01:20 AM »

Apollo was already over-powered and too big for low Earth orbit. It had the SIM bay, and you could reduce the tanks and even the engine. So yes, shrink the SM functions and then open it up with cargo space. But that's all unpressurized. To get a pressurized volume, they would have had to go with the hatch through the heat shield route.
A fully LEO optimized Apollo probably would be very similar to the Soviet TKS spacecraft which Big G was similar to as well.
Ironically several configurations of the  Shuttle where it carried a pressurized module in the cargo bay was functionally similar to the capability Big G would have offered.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #54 on: 05/23/2015 07:51 AM »
Quote
A fully LEO optimized Apollo probably would be very similar to the Soviet TKS spacecraft which Big G was similar to as well.

Spot on. Alexei Lenov called the TKS "our Apollo" for good reasons.

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #55 on: 05/26/2015 03:37 PM »
A interesting thought I had about "Big G" was what would have been the evolution with no Apollo program?  Would Gemini have been built as a advanced Mercury and would have Big G then evolved from Gemini still.  Basically instead of jumping to the Moon as a target during Mercury the target maybe becomes developing a Space Station.  The Saturn-1B evolves into the main launch vehicle with a Big G becoming the logistics vehicle to transport astronauts back and forth from a Space Station(s) put into orbit by a Saturn-1B. 

IIRC Apollo was "conceived" as a basic LEO vehicle with lunar applications and became lunar specific due to the requirement given NASA. Gemini was conceived as something quick-and-dirty to use between when Mercury ended and Apollo began to gain experience in the operations that were going to be required for those lunar operations. If JFK had decided to build a Space Station instead of going to the Moon I doubt very much that Gemini would have even been built and that Apollo would be a very different vehicle than it was.

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 #56 on: 05/26/2015 04:34 PM »
IIRC Apollo was "conceived" as a basic LEO vehicle with lunar applications and became lunar specific due to the requirement given NASA.

I think that the ability to fly circumlunar was there at the start.

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #57 on: 05/26/2015 04:51 PM »
A interesting thought I had about "Big G" was what would have been the evolution with no Apollo program?  Would Gemini have been built as a advanced Mercury and would have Big G then evolved from Gemini still.  Basically instead of jumping to the Moon as a target during Mercury the target maybe becomes developing a Space Station.  The Saturn-1B evolves into the main launch vehicle with a Big G becoming the logistics vehicle to transport astronauts back and forth from a Space Station(s) put into orbit by a Saturn-1B. 

IIRC Apollo was "conceived" as a basic LEO vehicle with lunar applications and became lunar specific due to the requirement given NASA. Gemini was conceived as something quick-and-dirty to use between when Mercury ended and Apollo began to gain experience in the operations that were going to be required for those lunar operations. If JFK had decided to build a Space Station instead of going to the Moon I doubt very much that Gemini would have even been built and that Apollo would be a very different vehicle than it was.

Randy

Apollo was conceived as the next manned spacecraft after Mercury.  It was first conceived in 1959, IIRC, as a three-man vehicle with "circumlunar capability."  In other words, the original idea was for Apollo to be a circumlunar spacecraft.  The idea was that you design a spacecraft capable of swinging around the Moon.  Then you add another propulsion stage and that vehicle can go into, and come out of, lunar orbit.  Add a landing/takeoff stage, and that vehicle can land on the Moon and return.

That was the kind of incremental thinking NASA was doing in terms of going to the Moon when Apollo was first conceived.  It was from the first thought of as a circumlunar vehicle.  In fact, the circumlunar mission was the primary mission I can recall being mentioned for it.  Apollo was not conceived as primarily a LEO vehicle, with lunar applications grafted on later, once Kennedy decided to point America towards the lunar landing.

As for the three-man crew, the idea was that such a vehicle would need a lot of tending and maintenance in-flight, so a submarine-like work schedule to maintain one crew person awake and on duty at all times required a minimum of three crew.  They were thinking of Mercury-times-three, which would indeed need a lot of crew attention.

You're certainly correct that Gemini came into being as a "bridge" program, originally conceived as Mercury Mark II, a simple upgrade to Mercury (perhaps not even increasing the crew complement), to be used in proving out and rehearsing rendezvous and EVA techniques that Apollo would need.  Mercury Mark II was being discussed as early as 1959, but was really only made possible by the lunar landing commitment, when it became clear that we needed to develop and prove those techniques well before Apollo could be ready to fly.  Of course, it was proposed as a modest extension to Mercury, that would cost well less than a billion dollars overall, and ended up as a major manned spaceflight program with a total program cost of more than two and a half billion.  But that's how groundbreaking development programs tend to run.

I believe that had Apollo not been set the lunar landing goal, you might well have seen a Mercury Mark II of some kind, but it might have been limited to adding an equipment module to, and modestly redesigning, the Mercury spacecraft, and flying it on an Atlas-Agena or on a Titan.  But you likely wouldn't have seen the same type of Mark II spacecraft that ended up evolving into Gemini.
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #58 on: 05/26/2015 09:01 PM »
Sorry didn't mean to give the impression that the "circumlunar" was tacked on it was there from the beginning but that the Apollo spacecraft was (as noted) already the "follow-on" to Mercury. Currently reading the book "John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon" and it along with everything else I've seen pretty much shows that "Mercury Mark II" wasn't Gemini and Gemini was in support of, not competition with Apollo.

I highly suspect that if something LEO-ish had been chosen for a "goal" instead of lunar that Apollo itself would have turned out VERY unlike what it was.

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 #59 on: 05/26/2015 09:14 PM »
Sorry didn't mean to give the impression that the "circumlunar" was tacked on it was there from the beginning but that the Apollo spacecraft was (as noted) already the "follow-on" to Mercury. Currently reading the book "John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon" and it along with everything else I've seen pretty much shows that "Mercury Mark II" wasn't Gemini and Gemini was in support of, not competition with Apollo.

There were some proposed intermediary steps there. I don't know who was pushing what, but there were proposals for extended Mercury missions and that's where the support package with consumables behind the heat shield came from. I think very quickly that evolved into Mercury Mark II with a two-person crew. For all intents and purposes MMII was Gemini. They were adding capabilities and requirements all the time, so I don't think there's really a clear delineation between MMII and Gemini.

You are right that Gemini was in support of Apollo. But McDonnell was a hungry company, and they were pitching Gemini variants soon after they had the contract. That included the circumlunar Gemini. You can imagine how this would quickly annoy NASA officials. They had an approved lunar program and they didn't need another contractor undercutting their decision.

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #60 on: 05/27/2015 04:12 AM »
Circumlunar Gemini had some fans at then-MSC, as well as at headquarters.  It was, in the final analysis, deemed too much of a stunt that would detract from (and steal funds from) Apollo, but had the Soviet Union shown signs in mid-1966 of launching a Zond manned circumlunar flight in the near future, I bet circumlunar Gemini would have been given a green light.

It was actually pretty simple -- the Titan II was capable of launching a Gemini heavy enough for the mission (the biggest weight gain was a beefed-up heat shield), and a Centaur had enough kick to put that stack into a free-return trajectory.  Put a Target Docking Adapter on the Centaur, rendezvous with it, and burn TLI.

Pete Conrad pushed strenuously for this mission for Geminis 11 and 12, and was ultimately shot down.  Some say he was given the 1,400-km-apogee maneuver with the Agena as a consolation prize.

Now, the follow-on proposal by McDonnell, to develop a small lander and use a combination of a Saturn IB (to launch the Gemini and the lander to LEO) and a Titan IIIC/Transstage (launching the transstage as a rendezvous target for the Gemini/Lander in LEO and providing TLI, LOI and TEI propulsion) to accomplish a one-man lunar landing by the end of 1967, was perhaps technically possible, but stood no chance of being approved.  It too directly tried to usurp Apollo's mission, and also would have required a super-fast one-man lander development program that there was simply no funding for.

With both lunar applications out the window, I guess McDonnell felt that Big G was their last chance to propose a Gemini variant that would keep them in the manned spaceflight business for another decade or more.
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #61 on: 05/27/2015 12:33 PM »
The impression on got was that there was a bit of a "huh?" factor in that NAA got the contract for Apollo, while McDonnell took as a challenge and an opportunity. I just never could see that Big G was as versatile as they claimed it was.

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 notsorandom

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #62 on: 05/27/2015 01:44 PM »
Circumlunar Gemini had some fans at then-MSC, as well as at headquarters.  It was, in the final analysis, deemed too much of a stunt that would detract from (and steal funds from) Apollo, but had the Soviet Union shown signs in mid-1966 of launching a Zond manned circumlunar flight in the near future, I bet circumlunar Gemini would have been given a green light.

It was actually pretty simple -- the Titan II was capable of launching a Gemini heavy enough for the mission (the biggest weight gain was a beefed-up heat shield), and a Centaur had enough kick to put that stack into a free-return trajectory.  Put a Target Docking Adapter on the Centaur, rendezvous with it, and burn TLI.

Pete Conrad pushed strenuously for this mission for Geminis 11 and 12, and was ultimately shot down.  Some say he was given the 1,400-km-apogee maneuver with the Agena as a consolation prize.

Now, the follow-on proposal by McDonnell, to develop a small lander and use a combination of a Saturn IB (to launch the Gemini and the lander to LEO) and a Titan IIIC/Transstage (launching the transstage as a rendezvous target for the Gemini/Lander in LEO and providing TLI, LOI and TEI propulsion) to accomplish a one-man lunar landing by the end of 1967, was perhaps technically possible, but stood no chance of being approved.  It too directly tried to usurp Apollo's mission, and also would have required a super-fast one-man lander development program that there was simply no funding for.

With both lunar applications out the window, I guess McDonnell felt that Big G was their last chance to propose a Gemini variant that would keep them in the manned spaceflight business for another decade or more.
The Apollo LEM ran into a fair amount of schedule slip. I'd wager that all lander designs suffered from an overly optimistic schedule in the mid 60s. Had the one person lander and Gemini been given the go ahead they might very well have been in the position of waiting for the lander like Apollo did. Even worse they might not have been able to build it light enough to fly. The LEM at around 14 or so tones was already stretched pretty thin.

Many of the one person lander were also not enclosed and pressurized instead relying on the astronaut's space suit.  As Allen Bean said once if you threw up in the suit while trying to land you would likely die. So that was a much more risky approach. Two people on the surface also allowed for a reasonable chance that if one should become incapacitated the other could get them back to safety in the LEM.

The lander would also be a lot less capable than the LEM. Just being barely capable of getting one person to the surface the amount of science it could do on the surface would have been very limited. Even more so because there would have been only one person. Apollo did do the job of landing before 1970, so the Gemini lander scenario wouldn't have that over Apollo. I'm not sure it could have been done cheaply enough to have been sustainable. It was quite a bit more risky, had little room for growth, and had less capability. NASA would have been just as likely if not even more so to want to finish the program and move on to the shuttle. 

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #63 on: 05/27/2015 04:52 PM »
Circumlunar Gemini had some fans at then-MSC, as well as at headquarters.  It was, in the final analysis, deemed too much of a stunt that would detract from (and steal funds from) Apollo, but had the Soviet Union shown signs in mid-1966 of launching a Zond manned circumlunar flight in the near future, I bet circumlunar Gemini would have been given a green light.

It was actually pretty simple -- the Titan II was capable of launching a Gemini heavy enough for the mission (the biggest weight gain was a beefed-up heat shield), and a Centaur had enough kick to put that stack into a free-return trajectory.  Put a Target Docking Adapter on the Centaur, rendezvous with it, and burn TLI.

Pete Conrad pushed strenuously for this mission for Geminis 11 and 12, and was ultimately shot down.  Some say he was given the 1,400-km-apogee maneuver with the Agena as a consolation prize.

Now, the follow-on proposal by McDonnell, to develop a small lander and use a combination of a Saturn IB (to launch the Gemini and the lander to LEO) and a Titan IIIC/Transstage (launching the transstage as a rendezvous target for the Gemini/Lander in LEO and providing TLI, LOI and TEI propulsion) to accomplish a one-man lunar landing by the end of 1967, was perhaps technically possible, but stood no chance of being approved.  It too directly tried to usurp Apollo's mission, and also would have required a super-fast one-man lander development program that there was simply no funding for.

With both lunar applications out the window, I guess McDonnell felt that Big G was their last chance to propose a Gemini variant that would keep them in the manned spaceflight business for another decade or more.
The Apollo LEM ran into a fair amount of schedule slip. I'd wager that all lander designs suffered from an overly optimistic schedule in the mid 60s. Had the one person lander and Gemini been given the go ahead they might very well have been in the position of waiting for the lander like Apollo did. Even worse they might not have been able to build it light enough to fly. The LEM at around 14 or so tones was already stretched pretty thin.

Many of the one person lander were also not enclosed and pressurized instead relying on the astronaut's space suit.  As Allen Bean said once if you threw up in the suit while trying to land you would likely die. So that was a much more risky approach. Two people on the surface also allowed for a reasonable chance that if one should become incapacitated the other could get them back to safety in the LEM.

The lander would also be a lot less capable than the LEM. Just being barely capable of getting one person to the surface the amount of science it could do on the surface would have been very limited. Even more so because there would have been only one person. Apollo did do the job of landing before 1970, so the Gemini lander scenario wouldn't have that over Apollo. I'm not sure it could have been done cheaply enough to have been sustainable. It was quite a bit more risky, had little room for growth, and had less capability. NASA would have been just as likely if not even more so to want to finish the program and move on to the shuttle.

Exactly.  You very clearly described why lunar Gemini was, in the final analysis, dismissed as a stunt -- worse, a dangerous stunt that would have left us *barely* satisfying the end-of-decade goal, while allowing little to no ability to take advantage of the landing scientifically.  (Also, note that lunar Gemini and its drawbacks, as you described it, also rather well describes the Soviet lunar landing system of the late '60s, too.  You do the math... ;) )

Even though Apollo was designed as a somewhat bare-bones way of landing humans on the Moon (certainly as compared to the kind of expedition you could mount using direct ascent or even EOR), it still provided the capability to perform sophisticated selenological investigations, including both remote sensor emplacement and geological traverses with targeted sampling strategies.  We stretched the system to its limits, and were perhaps lucky we never lost anyone in flight during Apollo, but it did provide an exploitable platform.  All lunar Gemini would ave done would have been to, at even greater risk, put a check in the box "land a man on the Moon before the end of the decade."  And, by extrapolation, that's pretty much all the Soviet program would have been capable of, I think.

This is why I think McDonnell concentrated on Big G, since they saw the writing on the wall and conceded, in 1967, that their lunar ambitions for their spacecraft would never come to pass.

Don't just blame McDonnell, though.  Jim Chamberlin, NASA's first program manager for Gemini, was pushing to dump Apollo and use Gemini to satisfy the lunar landing goal even before LOR was officially adopted as the mission mode for Apollo.  And Chuck Mathews, who took over from Chamberlin as Gemini program manager, himself became enamored of the circumlunar mission and was one of those I mentioned who was a friend of lunar Gemini at JSC.  So, it wasn't just old man McDonnell trying to get more business from NASA -- there were NASA people, as well, who saw merit in lunar Gemini concepts and pushed for them at various times.

A lot of good information about the evolution of Mercury Mark II into Gemini, and the discarded lunar Gemini options (and those who supported them), can be found in NASA's Gemini history, "On the Shoulders of Titans," BTW.  One thing that stands out in that history is the struggle NASA had to get the Air Force to develop the Titan missile to the point where it was safe and effective for the Gemini launch vehicle's mission.  I recommend the book.
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline notsorandom

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #64 on: 05/27/2015 06:03 PM »
Exactly.  You very clearly described why lunar Gemini was, in the final analysis, dismissed as a stunt -- worse, a dangerous stunt that would have left us *barely* satisfying the end-of-decade goal, while allowing little to no ability to take advantage of the landing scientifically.  (Also, note that lunar Gemini and its drawbacks, as you described it, also rather well describes the Soviet lunar landing system of the late '60s, too.  You do the math... ;) )
The Soviet scheme was at an even greater disadvantage not being developed from a Gemini like program. Two major problems with it were docking and the EVA transfer of the cosmonaut. Both are something the Gemini based landing would need to do but were perfected, though not easily, during the Gemini program. The Soviets were still having difficulty in docking well into their early station program. A failure to dock in lunar orbit would have been fatal without some amazing piloting and a equally amazing EVA. But that is all for another historical spaceflight thread.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #65 on: 10/07/2015 06:43 PM »
My Big Gemini article is now published in Spaceflight magazine. Go buy a copy. Lots of Big G goodness.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #66 on: 10/16/2015 09:39 AM »
www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/729770.pdf

Rand Corp (not NASA) study, October 1970

Quote
SIX-MAN APOLLO SPACECRAFT

For those alternative space plans in which the shuttle operation
would be delayed or in which there would be no shuttle, a six-man modified
Apollo spacecraft would be used. This vehicle would have a gross
weight of 20,000 ib, a development cost of $1 billion, a first-unit cost
of $300 million, and a launch-operations cost of $73 million.

Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #67 on: 12/01/2015 12:54 PM »
Blackstar,
Just purchased November's Spaceflight and really enjoyed the Big G article. Have been weighing up doing a comparison of the Soviet TKS and the Big G with the expanded compartment - interesting similarities. Great to have some quality new Big G info rather than my collection of poorly photocopied documents!

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #68 on: 12/05/2015 12:45 PM »
Chris Petty - just for you, an alternate ASTP (BGTTP - Big Gemini TKS Test Program)



Picture based on Giuseppe de Chiara superb renderings
« Last Edit: 12/05/2015 12:48 PM by Archibald »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #69 on: 12/05/2015 05:45 PM »
My Big Gemini piece is going to run online soon.

Also, I hope to do an updated version with substantial new information sometime in 2016.

Offline beb

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #70 on: 12/05/2015 06:00 PM »
RanulfC, you don't have to use quotation marks unless you're quoting somebody.

There valid reasons for using "scare" quotes. One is as a sarcasm marker. So when one talks about doing something the "right" way it obviously means they are doing it the wrong way...

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #71 on: 12/07/2015 10:23 PM »
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2879/1

The Big G
by Dwayne Day
Monday, December 7, 2015


By 1967, McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Company, which built the Gemini spacecraft earlier in the decade, had a contract to build several Gemini Bs for the Air Force as part of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program. The Gemini B would be launched atop the MOL on a Titan IIIM rocket. The Gemini astronauts would leave their spacecraft through a hatch in the heat shield of their spacecraft and travel to the MOL through a tunnel.

Like all government contractors, McDonnell Douglas was looking to expand their customer base. The company had pitched civilian versions of MOL to NASA even though NASA was planning on using Apollo hardware as the basis of future space stations. In summer 1967, McDonnell Douglas proposed a new variant of its Gemini spacecraft known as the “Big Gemini,” or “Big G.” By December 1967, the company prepared a 100-page briefing booklet for NASA with “Big G” printed on the cover. The briefing booklet made the case for a new spacecraft for NASA even though NASA was not in the market for one.


Offline Ronpur50

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #72 on: 12/07/2015 11:56 PM »
Great article.  Is it the same as the one in the Spaceflight magazine?

Offline Brovane

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #73 on: 12/08/2015 05:19 PM »
My Big Gemini article is now published in Spaceflight magazine. Go buy a copy. Lots of Big G goodness.

I went ahead and purchased this issue online and read through your article today.  Excellent work.  Would you be willing to share your reference material that you used in L2 sometime in the future? 
"Look at that! If anybody ever said, "you'll be sitting in a spacecraft naked with a 134-pound backpack on your knees charging it", I'd have said "Aw, get serious". - John Young - Apollo-16

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #74 on: 12/08/2015 06:41 PM »
My Big Gemini article is now published in Spaceflight magazine. Go buy a copy. Lots of Big G goodness.

I went ahead and purchased this issue online and read through your article today.  Excellent work.  Would you be willing to share your reference material that you used in L2 sometime in the future? 

Sure. I have a file. I can scan and post it here.

Offline Antilope7724

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #75 on: 12/08/2015 08:16 PM »
In March 1969, at the Congressional NASA 1970 Budget Authorization hearings
McDonnell-Douglas gave a presentation on Gemini Applications and a proposal for the Big Gemini as an interim space station ferry concept leading up to a small space shuttle type space station ferry.

Here are some illustrations from that presentation and a link to the Congressional document below:

From the U.S. House Committee on Science and Astronautics

1970 NASA Authorization, Mar 4, 5, 1969 - Page 900 to 945:

The Congressional report was scanned by Google and is available on the Hathi Trust website.
I believe it's only viewable from inside the U.S.

http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=umn.31951d03576130j;view=1up;seq=1034

Here are some illustrations from the McDonnell-Douglas presentation to Congress.

Offline Antilope7724

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #76 on: 12/08/2015 08:17 PM »

Offline Antilope7724

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #77 on: 12/08/2015 08:17 PM »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #78 on: 12/08/2015 10:18 PM »
Note that the congressional document is from March 1969, but the final report was not produced until August 1969. There were a number of key differences by the final report, including elimination of the Saturn IB and changes to the design of the rear of the vehicle. Not sure why all of those happened, but I hope to get to the bottom of it.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #79 on: 12/09/2015 07:19 AM »
What a great find, so interesting.

Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #80 on: 12/14/2015 01:07 PM »
While not dealing with Big G in quite the depth that Backstair does in his excellent article, I've covered some of the same ground in this piece looking at Big G as compared to the Soviet TKS vehicle:

https://thehighfrontier.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/space-trucks-big-g-and-the-tks/

Many similarities between them, but the key difference was that the TKS flew and its legacy lives on in the shape of the Zarya module of the ISS

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #81 on: 01/05/2016 06:15 PM »
Ok, I don't know why I never picked up on this before but...

I think I see a major reason why Big-G never had a chance for development. How do you get OUT of the vehicle once it's landed? Does anyone notice that in the mock-ups and illustrations that once the Big-G has skidded to a stop NO ONE can leave their seats without ending up face planting on the front of the passenger module? For example this mock up (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=37347.0;attach=1084277;image) shows very clearly how much "nose-down" angle the astronauts have AND THE MODULE IS STILL NOT IN THE "LANDED" POSITON as shown by the several feet between the nose skid and the ground!

At that point the astronauts are going to be "hanging" from their straps at least. Now try having to climb uphill to the rear hatch...

Seriously? How did the folks at MD actually miss this little "issue"? :)

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 simonbp

Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #82 on: 01/08/2016 08:39 PM »
Relative to getting out of an Apollo couch in rough seas in the middle of the Pacific, that doesn't look hard. ;)

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #83 on: 01/08/2016 08:57 PM »
Relative to getting out of an Apollo couch in rough seas in the middle of the Pacific, that doesn't look hard. ;)

When doing so your guaranteed to fall about 5 or 6 feet AWAY from the hatch? Every time? On solid ground? As an operational regularity? :)

Nope I'm going with the company figuring if they DO buy it we'll get our revenge for every slight ever dealt us every mission for the vehicles lifetime! Bwahhhahahahahah! :)

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 simonbp

Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #84 on: 01/12/2016 03:49 AM »
Just stick some McDonnell Douglas monogrammed throw pillows in there, it'll be fine!

Offline Antilope7724

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #85 on: 01/12/2016 07:33 AM »
Early Lunar Module mockups showed astronauts climbing down knotted ropes. It worked itself out.  ;D
« Last Edit: 01/12/2016 08:02 AM by Antilope7724 »

Offline Finn Mac Doreahn

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #86 on: 08/20/2016 05:16 PM »
Any hope for BGTTP in Explorers-verse?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #87 on: 03/28/2017 03:32 AM »

Offline Oersted

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #88 on: 03/28/2017 04:33 AM »
Blackstar, I'm trying to click on those pictures, but I can't seem to open them to get a look inside the books...  ;-)

Good find, looking forward to seeing more! - Are the contents in the public domain?

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #89 on: 03/28/2017 06:45 AM »
Any hope for BGTTP in Explorers-verse?

Took me a while to remember what BGTTP was. Big Gemini - TKS - Test Program.

Yes. It will happens circa 1995 instead of Shuttle-Mir :)
« Last Edit: 03/28/2017 08:31 AM by Archibald »

Offline Proponent

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #90 on: 03/28/2017 10:20 AM »
Are the contents in the public domain?

Blackstar posted Volume I, the condensed summary, upthread.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #91 on: 03/28/2017 12:49 PM »
I now have a better copy of the summary. I'll post that sometime.

Offline Oersted

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #92 on: 03/28/2017 01:48 PM »
Thank you so much, sounds great.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #93 on: 04/02/2017 08:07 PM »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #94 on: 04/02/2017 08:12 PM »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #95 on: 04/02/2017 08:16 PM »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #96 on: 04/02/2017 08:20 PM »

Offline Oersted

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #97 on: 04/02/2017 10:23 PM »
Thanks, that is really quite something. Fascinating look into an alternative history that never was!

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #98 on: 04/03/2017 07:02 AM »
Very interesting, thank you. Interesting tidbit about the pads for the titan III variant. Never realized that LC-40 / LC-41 couldn't handle 7-seg Titan III-M ?
And then I remembered MOL was to launch from Vandenberg Slick 6 and not CCAFS.

The hybrid skid / wheel undercarriage is interesting. I like the "skeel" portemanteau.
« Last Edit: 04/03/2017 07:03 AM by Archibald »

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #99 on: 04/03/2017 09:23 PM »
Very interesting, thank you. Interesting tidbit about the pads for the titan III variant. Never realized that LC-40 / LC-41 couldn't handle 7-seg Titan III-M ?

Didn't the Titan III-M solids end up as Titan IV solids (originally Titan 34D-7?)

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #100 on: 04/03/2017 11:02 PM »
I posted photos of the covers of the 8 volumes up thread. They are at the archives of the University of Texas Medical Center (which fortunately is NOT located at UTM and is therefore easy to reach). Some of the volumes run 200-300 pages, so the total is probably over 1500 pages.

There are not a lot of illustrations all things considered (i.e. dozens, not hundreds), and they do not have an easily accessible copier machine. If I had access to a copier machine, I would have been willing to copy a lot of at least several volumes (although that also would have been expensive at 25 cents a page). Instead I took a bunch of digital photos, which is not the best way to capture the report. But the volumes are in excellent shape and they're preserved as part of a large (100+ boxes) collection of JSC life sciences records.

The spacecraft systems and reusability volumes were both very interesting. For reusability they looked at what systems could be expected to have relatively long lifetimes and what systems had to be replaced (like the heat shield). I did not go through the stuff in detail, but I did not see a lot about the logistics module or the advanced Big G that you see in some of the illustrations. It seemed to me that they were primarily pitching the basic vehicle and holding out the option for a larger and more sophisticated vehicle.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #101 on: 04/04/2017 01:32 PM »
Very interesting, thank you. Interesting tidbit about the pads for the titan III variant. Never realized that LC-40 / LC-41 couldn't handle 7-seg Titan III-M ?

Didn't the Titan III-M solids end up as Titan IV solids (originally Titan 34D-7?)

D'oh, forgot that. Indeed Titan IV-A had them. I wonder what modifications did they made to the pads.

Offline Jim

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #102 on: 04/04/2017 02:42 PM »
Very interesting, thank you. Interesting tidbit about the pads for the titan III variant. Never realized that LC-40 / LC-41 couldn't handle 7-seg Titan III-M ?

Didn't the Titan III-M solids end up as Titan IV solids (originally Titan 34D-7?)

D'oh, forgot that. Indeed Titan IV-A had them. I wonder what modifications did they made to the pads.

None.  They did what the document said.  On pad assembly.  The first 5 segments of the SRM's were stacked in the SMAB.  The last two and forward closure were done at the pad.

Offline Davp99

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #103 on: 04/04/2017 03:02 PM »
Just these never Seen the Light Programs must have kept Mechanical Drawers with Work for Years..It was my favorite Class, a big old Drafting Table and tons of Sharp Pencils......Still have My original Slide Ruler...
You Only Live Twice

Offline Ronpur50

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #104 on: 04/04/2017 10:22 PM »
I posted photos of the covers of the 8 volumes up thread. They are at the archives of the University of Texas Medical Center (which fortunately is NOT located at UTM and is therefore easy to reach). Some of the volumes run 200-300 pages, so the total is probably over 1500 pages.

There are not a lot of illustrations all things considered (i.e. dozens, not hundreds), and they do not have an easily accessible copier machine. If I had access to a copier machine, I would have been willing to copy a lot of at least several volumes (although that also would have been expensive at 25 cents a page). Instead I took a bunch of digital photos, which is not the best way to capture the report. But the volumes are in excellent shape and they're preserved as part of a large (100+ boxes) collection of JSC life sciences records.

The spacecraft systems and reusability volumes were both very interesting. For reusability they looked at what systems could be expected to have relatively long lifetimes and what systems had to be replaced (like the heat shield). I did not go through the stuff in detail, but I did not see a lot about the logistics module or the advanced Big G that you see in some of the illustrations. It seemed to me that they were primarily pitching the basic vehicle and holding out the option for a larger and more sophisticated vehicle.

Too bad you can't bring in a laptop and small scanner.  But that would still take a long time.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #105 on: 04/04/2017 10:30 PM »
Too bad you can't bring in a laptop and small scanner.  But that would still take a long time.

I could. The problem is time. A good scan for each page is going to take awhile--probably 20-40 seconds. That's a lot of work. A photocopier works a lot faster. What I'd like to get is most (if not all) of a couple of the volumes.

Offline WBailey

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #106 on: 04/06/2017 05:05 AM »
Too bad you can't bring in a laptop and small scanner.  But that would still take a long time.

I could. The problem is time. A good scan for each page is going to take awhile--probably 20-40 seconds. That's a lot of work. A photocopier works a lot faster. What I'd like to get is most (if not all) of a couple of the volumes.

There are many commercial solutions for book scanning these days, perhaps someone here has experience and could recommend a particular model?

https://www.google.com/search?q=portable+book+scanner
http://www.fujitsu.com/global/products/computing/peripheral/scanners/scansnap/index.html

Here is a lower cost, lower resolution (300 dpi) option:


More expensive Fujitsu model:
« Last Edit: 04/06/2017 05:09 AM by WBailey »

Offline Michel Van

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #107 on: 04/06/2017 12:16 PM »
Blackstar, your are Fantastic !

Next to Archibald, you make me very happy with this new data

About Launch Pad 37 A/B

That is Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 37
Build in 1959 and in 1964 NASA used it  for Saturn I & IB test flights
consist Pad A never used and Pad B launch Six Saturn I and Two Saturn IB
The Site was deactivated in 1972
in 2001 it was reopened and modified for Delta IV

If i get the numbers right, the Modification for Titan III would cost around $132.7 million Today Value
that cost of building launch complex 40



« Last Edit: 04/06/2017 12:17 PM by Michel Van »

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #108 on: 04/06/2017 12:26 PM »


What volumes are most interesting than other ? hard to say. Volume I - Condensed summary is already available. But all seven other volumes might be of interest.

Which one would you pick up ?
« Last Edit: 04/06/2017 12:30 PM by Archibald »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #109 on: 04/06/2017 02:50 PM »
Blackstar, your are Fantastic !

My cat doesn't think so.


If i get the numbers right, the Modification for Titan III would cost around $132.7 million Today Value
that cost of building launch complex 40

So... I am always very very wary of doing cost inflation to the modern day, particularly for aerospace programs. There are many different inflators (there is even one specifically for aerospace). I guess I would just say that if you are going to make an inflation adjustment, you also provide numerous caveats (which will be ignored by the reader).

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #110 on: 04/06/2017 03:58 PM »
What volumes are most interesting than other ? hard to say. Volume I - Condensed summary is already available. But all seven other volumes might be of interest.

Which one would you pick up ?

So that image that you posted is out of date. The problem is that it doesn't list the boxes where the volumes are located, and the folders are not sequential. I'll post better citation data later. All eight volumes are contained in four boxes as part of their JSC life sciences collection. It would make sense to consolidate them all into a single box, but archives generally don't like to mess around with the original order of stuff even if a better order is obvious, and really there's no need to do that because there's just no demand to see these things. I'm probably the first person to specifically look at the BG volumes since they were archived, which was probably decades ago. Fortunately, the staff was helpful and able to find what I was looking for easily, so it did not take long.

Volume II, the Spacecraft Design and Performance Summary, and Volume VII, the reusability volume, were both most interesting to me. Volume III on performance analysis was just a lot of charts and graphs with lines on them. I thought that many of the other volumes were just down in the weeds, so not particularly interesting, although it depends upon what tickles your fancy, I guess. Volumes I and II would give you the most important overall detail for the program. The reusability volume would describe what made BG unique at that time. One thing that I did not see was extensive discussion of the "advanced" BG option.

As I wrote for my Space Review piece in December 2015, one of the interesting things about BG is that although this study was done in August 1969, it was still considered to be an option in 1972 when the shuttle decision was made. I think that was mainly the case of the White House budget people wanting to have a low-cost human spaceflight option and BG was the only candidate. But Big Gemini had longer legs than I thought.

Offline Proponent

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #111 on: 04/06/2017 10:56 PM »
My cat doesn't think so.
From a cat, that is a sign of respect.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #112 on: 04/07/2017 06:30 AM »



Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #113 on: 04/07/2017 07:53 PM »
I don't have a cat.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #114 on: 04/07/2017 07:55 PM »
Here is a better version of the Big Gemini proposal summary (Volume 1).

My photocopy is quite good, this scan is less good, but it is still better than the earlier scan.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #115 on: 04/10/2017 07:07 AM »
Here is a better version of the Big Gemini proposal summary (Volume 1).

My photocopy is quite good, this scan is less good, but it is still better than the earlier scan.

thank you

ECLSS was mixed O2 / nitrogen (near natural atmosphere, as they say)
So it was neither Gemini-B / MOL (mixed helium) nor Apollo oxygen mix. And it was closer from both soyuz and space shuttle.
They say they would use Gemini B as basis, but if ECLSS was different, then that contradicts their argument.

Weight summaries are given for 50 degree inclination (Skylab obviously) but 260 nautic mile- orbit, which is pretty high (481 km ?!)

We know that before cancellation in  June 1969 MOL got four Gemini B build and in storage
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,4024.msg217555.html#msg217555

I suppose MDD could have taken a Gemini B out of storage and flown it unmanned to test Big Gemini subsystems, EFT-1 style.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2017 07:54 AM by Archibald »

Offline Jim

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #116 on: 04/10/2017 01:58 PM »

I suppose MDD could have taken a Gemini B out of storage and flown it unmanned to test Big Gemini subsystems, EFT-1 style.

There is little to no engineering need for such tests with Gemini B

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #117 on: 04/10/2017 05:12 PM »

We know that before cancellation in  June 1969 MOL got four Gemini B build and in storage
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,4024.msg217555.html#msg217555

No, they were not actually built. They were placed on contract, but then canceled.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #118 on: 04/11/2017 06:07 AM »
ok, do you know when were they cancelled ? In June 1969 with the entire MOL or earlier ?
« Last Edit: 04/11/2017 06:07 AM by Archibald »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #119 on: 04/11/2017 11:22 AM »
ok, do you know when were they cancelled ? In June 1969 with the entire MOL or earlier ?

Everything was canceled at the same time.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #120 on: 04/11/2017 11:37 AM »
I wonder about MDD Gemini worforce to be retained for Gemini B - all the way from 1966 (last NASA Gemini)  to 1970 ? wouldn't that be a problem ?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #121 on: 04/11/2017 01:21 PM »
I wonder about MDD Gemini worforce to be retained for Gemini B - all the way from 1966 (last NASA Gemini)  to 1970 ? wouldn't that be a problem ?

I wondered about that too.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #122 on: 04/11/2017 04:47 PM »
What would have made sense (IMHO) would be to build four or six Gemini B in 1967-68 before MDD wound down Gemini - and then put them into storage while the rest of MOL gets funded and build, up to 1970 or beyond.
 But military procurement doesn't always make sense, otherwise the F-35 would never exist in the first place   :P
« Last Edit: 04/11/2017 04:49 PM by Archibald »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #123 on: 04/11/2017 05:01 PM »
What would have made sense (IMHO) would be to build four or six Gemini B in 1967-68 before MDD wound down Gemini - and then put them into storage while the rest of MOL gets funded and build, up to 1970 or beyond.
 But military procurement doesn't always make sense, otherwise the F-35 would never exist in the first place   :P


I don't know if putting them in storage would have been the right solution--things age in storage and have to be re-certified for flight. However, it might have made sense to make some of the long-lead and major components and then hold off on integration.

I don't know exactly what was going on with procurement. Ideally, you want all of the major components getting finished around the same time so that they can be integrated together. You don't want something finished and then sitting around for years. But MOL's launch date kept slipping. Did they slip the start date for constructing the Gemini's as well? Although the Gemini-B had some changes compared to the Gemini, it was the closest to an off-the-shelf piece of equipment that MOL had. Not much new design needed. Perhaps that allowed the start date to float, based upon the contractor's belief that the Gemini was an easy build and already well-known. Maybe the plan was not to start construction until the other major components--which were all unique--were well along to completion.
« Last Edit: 04/11/2017 05:36 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Jim

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #124 on: 04/11/2017 06:36 PM »
What would have made sense (IMHO) would be to build four or six Gemini B in 1967-68 before MDD wound down Gemini - and then put them into storage while the rest of MOL gets funded and build,
Not technically feasible and doesn't make sense.  The actual design of MOL was not ready. 

The Gemini program was already winding down before 1967.  The spacecraft production would have ended in early 1966 and designer long gone before then. The hull was the same but the insides were different.
« Last Edit: 04/11/2017 06:37 PM by Jim »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #125 on: 09/05/2017 12:04 AM »
Just this evening I wondered about the archives where I found the Big Gemini materials that I cited above (see the photos). I wondered if they had any problems during the hurricane. Turns out they are okay:

https://mcgovernhrc.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/mcgovern-historical-center-closed/

But this highlights one of the risks of archival collections--they can be destroyed. I was able to photocopy a few dozen pages of the ~1500 pages of the Big Gemini report. If the archives had been flooded, I might have ended up with the only remaining copy. And LOTS of other materials, including NASA materials and Texas medical history documents, would have been lost.


Online brickmack

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #126 on: 09/05/2017 01:50 AM »
But this highlights one of the risks of archival collections--they can be destroyed. I was able to photocopy a few dozen pages of the ~1500 pages of the Big Gemini report. If the archives had been flooded, I might have ended up with the only remaining copy. And LOTS of other materials, including NASA materials and Texas medical history documents, would have been lost.

Somebody ought to set up a crowdfunding project for this. This stuff needs to be digitized, but institutions rarely have much interest in doing so, and its way too expensive (if nothing else, cost of renting scanner time on-site) for individuals to make much impact

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #127 on: 09/05/2017 02:46 PM »
But this highlights one of the risks of archival collections--they can be destroyed. I was able to photocopy a few dozen pages of the ~1500 pages of the Big Gemini report. If the archives had been flooded, I might have ended up with the only remaining copy. And LOTS of other materials, including NASA materials and Texas medical history documents, would have been lost.

Somebody ought to set up a crowdfunding project for this. This stuff needs to be digitized, but institutions rarely have much interest in doing so, and its way too expensive (if nothing else, cost of renting scanner time on-site) for individuals to make much impact

Digitizing is a great idea, but on the other hand, I can picture aerospace historians 50 years from now desperately trying to find a working CD reader to try and recover, and translate into their new-current formats, all of the documents you've gone to such trouble to digitize... :(
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Online brickmack

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #128 on: 09/05/2017 05:28 PM »
Well, CDs have already been obsolete for over a decade, so probably not.

For storage in general, its trivial to just keep copying to new hardware, and would be necessary for any preservation anyway (since most media degrades within a couple decades at best). And the formats the data itself are stored in are usually easily replicated, even in the unlikely event they aren't still the standard at the time (for images for example, theres really no gain to be had beyond current formats). I trust that a lot more than a couple paper copies in an unsecured library

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Big Gemini
« Reply #129 on: 09/05/2017 08:59 PM »
Well, CDs have already been obsolete for over a decade, so probably not.

For storage in general, its trivial to just keep copying to new hardware, and would be necessary for any preservation anyway (since most media degrades within a couple decades at best). And the formats the data itself are stored in are usually easily replicated, even in the unlikely event they aren't still the standard at the time (for images for example, theres really no gain to be had beyond current formats). I trust that a lot more than a couple paper copies in an unsecured library

Paper, when properly stored, will easily last 100+ years. I was looking at paper copies from 1967 (everybody can do the math on that) and there was no fading. Also, you don't really need to keep upgrading the hardware to read paper, other than buying reading glasses.


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