Author Topic: Living and Working in the Gemini Capsule  (Read 6110 times)

Offline kschachn

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Living and Working in the Gemini Capsule
« on: 04/01/2009 06:52 PM »
I've seen a Gemini capsule in a museum before and it always made me wonder how they were able to live in such a small area. For example, how was it possible for both of them to even don their space suits? And where were they stored while not being used? Also, where was two weeks worth of food kept (and the resulting waste)?

Mercury was of course smaller but that astronaut didn't have to do much while there. I also know the Gemini suits were flexible but it's the lack of volume in the cabin that is so lacking.

Offline Jim

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Re: Living and Working in the Gemini Capsule
« Reply #1 on: 04/01/2009 07:08 PM »
I've seen a Gemini capsule in a museum before and it always made me wonder how they were able to live in such a small area. For example, how was it possible for both of them to even don their space suits? And where were they stored while not being used? Also, where was two weeks worth of food kept (and the resulting waste)?


Except for the special soft suits on Gemini 7, all gemini astronauts wore their suits for the duration of the mission.  There were storage boxes below the instrument panel in front of their legs.  There was storage in the back between the seats

Offline MarsMethanogen

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Re: Living and Working in the Gemini Capsule
« Reply #2 on: 04/01/2009 07:11 PM »
I've seen a Gemini capsule in a museum before and it always made me wonder how they were able to live in such a small area. For example, how was it possible for both of them to even don their space suits? And where were they stored while not being used? Also, where was two weeks worth of food kept (and the resulting waste)?

Mercury was of course smaller but that astronaut didn't have to do much while there. I also know the Gemini suits were flexible but it's the lack of volume in the cabin that is so lacking.
I have often wondered that myself. The impression I've always had regarding the capsule's size was that you pretty much just sat there; there was no getting up and floating to another place in the interior. We know that there was room to remove and get into a space suit, as Borman and Lovell did it on the 2-week long duration mission.  I believe that only one was allowed to be out of his suit at any point in time, so each must have removed and then put it back on at least once.  However, it would be my guess that if there is anyone still out there that was in a position to be able to answer such a question, you're going to get something back like, "it was tight, but they did it."

Offline Jim

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Re: Living and Working in the Gemini Capsule
« Reply #3 on: 04/01/2009 07:16 PM »
Stowage
Allotting space and providing the means to secure stowage items on spacecraft presented problemosn most missions.
Manned missions called fkonro wn quantities of food, and rendered known
quantities of waste. Cameras, film, camera accessories, and various hard and
software were required for experiments. Logbooks and data cards were used
for recording events during the missions. "Zero g" conditions necessitated
stowing each item. Other factors affecting stowage included the duration of
each mission, the size and nature of the item to be stowed, and its immediacy
and frequency of use.
Due to the relatively short duration of the S3p amciescsriaofnt and
the small amount of equipment necessary, stowage waa sp r onbloetm . Spacecraft
3 did not have all the fixed stowage containers of later spacecraft.
Consequently, the right hand aft box and the modified whirlpool center box contained excess space. But on subsequent spacecraft, except Spacec6r,a ft
all available stowage space was utilized.
A l l items had to be secured to prevent them from floating. The method
of securing "loose items," i.e., not bolted to the spacecraft or removed from
a fixed container, was to apply Velcro hook about the spacecraft walls,
instrument panels, hatches and seats, and Velcro pile to the item to be
secured. A f t e r each flight, the next crew usually requested that additional
Velcro hook be applied to the interior of each spacecraft through Spacecraft 8
when nearly all the usable space was occupied.
Beginning with Spacecraft 4, the aft and center stowage area was
redesigned to the following configuration:
A. A center stowage rack fitted with one to three Fiberglas containers.
B. Left and right aft food boxes.
On Spacecraft 4 and 5, the center stowage rack was configured with three
Fiberglas containers which housed cameras and camera accessories. A mounting
adapter for the 200 mm lens was stowed on the center stowage rack door.
However, the center stowage containers on Spacecraft 4 did not have adequate
space for stowing all of the camera accessories. Based on the probable low
use rate, three lenses were stowed i n t h e right hand aft box in pouches.
Since the film magazines could withstand more shock and vibration than the
accessories, they were stowed in the side food boxes due to the lack of space
in the center containers and the need for accessibility.
Commencing on Gemini VI a special centerline rack was i n s t a l l e d t o c a r r y
the extravehicular life support system (ELSS) and a Fiberglas camera case.
Although the ELSS was not carried on Spacecraft 6 and 7, this rack was carried
to maintain a standardized stowage configuration throughout the program. The
ELSS was placed into the rack on a guide rail and structurally supported by
two pins on the rear of the rack and two p i n s i n t h e door of the rack that
mated with corresponding holes in the EMS. On several flights considerable
difficulty was encountered in closing the door on the stowage rack. This
problem was resolved by removing part of the structure in the rack (making it
more flexible) so it could more easily be placed in a mating position with its
door. A theory that the structure shifted as the spacecraft was pressurized
prompted this action.
The Fiberglas container arrangement on Spacecraft 6 and 7 was changed
to two containers, upper and lower, which allowed more stowage space. Except
for pen lights on Spacecraft 6, cameras and camera accessories were stowed in
these containers. The primary stowage objective was t o l o c a t e all equipment
needed for a given photographic experiment or documentation in one container.
On Spacecraft 7, cameras and camera accessories were placed in the lower
container and the extra film magazines w e r e stowed in the right hand pedestal
auxiliary food container. The upper container was used p a r t i a l l y f o r items
that w e r e usually stowed i n t h e sidewall containers on other spacecraft.
These included tape cartridges, suit repair kit, urine collection system
components, plastic zipper bags, tissue dispenser, vision testing and dewpoint
hygrometer components, interference filters, and medical accessory kit.
199
The upper part of the center stowage area on Spacecraft 8 through 12 was
used for the extravehicular life support system (ELSS)' package. The lower
portion contained a Fiberglas box with foam molded t o accept cameras, film
magazines, and camera accessories. On each of these spacecraft there was not
sufficient room i n t h i s box t o c o n t a i n all the equipment, and overflow items
such as lenses and film magazines sometimes w e r e stowed in pouches i n t h e
aft and side food boxes.
I n a d d i t i o n t o c e n t e r stowage overflow of cameras and accessories; the
left and right aft boxes were u t i l i z e d f o r stowing food, extravehicular
activity (EVA) equipment, urine bags, defecation devices, and other items not
requiring frequent use. Each item, with the exception of the food packs, was
i n a n i n d i v i d u a l pouch. Some items such as cameras with lenses were in
padded pouches. Typical stowage is i l l u s t r a t e d i n Fig. 35.
On Spacecraft 4 and 5, the left aft box was used for food, but the right
aft box was used to stow "infrequent use" items such as camera lenses,
umbilical hose, defecation bags, suit repair kit, and Zodiacal light camera.
On Spacecraft 4, the size and shape of the in-flight exerciser, blood pressure
adapter, urine receiver and hose, and umbilical guide was responsible for
these items being stowed in the right aft box.
The left aft box on Spacecraft 6 was used for food, personal effects
items such as tissue dispenser, bio-med f i t t i n g wrench, waste containers,
roll-on cuff receiver, and defecation devices, and for items of a general
nature such as lightweight headsets, humidity sensor, voice tape recorder
cartridges, 16 mm film magazines, and a collection bag assembly. The right
aft box contained auxiliary water bags for use in obtaining a drink during
prelaunch count down.
Both of the aft boxes on Spacecraft 7 were used mainly for food.
Personal hygiene towels also were stowed in each of the aft boxes.
Beginning with Spacecraft 8, mission requirements became more uniform
with respect to duration, EVA, and photography. On Spacecraft 9, 11 and 12,
the left aft box was utilized primarily for EVA equipment. On Spacecraft 10,
the EVA equipment was divided between the two aft boxes. The right aft box
contained items which could not be stowed elsewhere or which had a low level
of use. The right aft box on Spacecraft 11 and 12 was used principally for
food, blood pressure bulb, waste container, defecation devices, and camera
equipment that could not be stowed in the center stowage container due to
lack of space.
The left and right sidewall boxes were utilized primarily for items
intended to be easily accessible, or of a small volume. Typical of such items
were personal hygiene towels, waste containers, pen lights, defecation
devices, voice tape recorder cartridges, the spot meter exposure dial, and
lightweight headsets. On most spacecraft two man-meals w e r e stowed in each
sidewall box to eliminate the need for unstowing of the aft boxes or the
hatch food pouches until after the first sleep period. The "small volume"
hard items such as hose nozzle interconnectors and 16 mm and 70 mm film
200
I _
TYPICAL CAMERA STOWAGE TYPICAL HATCH STOWAGE
FOOTWELL SHOWING TYPICAL
STOWAGE POUCHES TYPICAL AFT BOX STOWAGE POUCHES
FIGURE 35 CABIN STOWAGE
201
magazines w e r e placed in the sidewall boxes rather than the pedestal, footwell,
o r c i r c u i t b r e a k e r panel fairing pouches, due to launch conditions. On some
spacecraft the circuit breaker and light module assemblies, plastic.'iippe!r
bags, u t i l i t y e l e c t r i c a l c o r d s , and velcro hook strips and velcro piie strips
w e r e stared only in this location because of crew preference that they be
equally accessible in the pedestal pouches o r t h e u t i l i t y pouch under the
right hand instrument panel.
The sidewall extension boxes were incorporated beginning with Spacecraft
4. They were located directly aft of the sidewall boxes. Accessibility
to these boxes was limited due to proximity of the ejection seat. On Spacecraft
4, they were used for stowing a lightweight headset and defecation
devices. On Spacecraft 6, the boxes contained one hose nozzle interconnector
each and on Spacecraft 7, seven defecation devices each. On Spacecraft 5
through 12, the crew preference kits were stowed in these boxes.
Underneath each sidewall box a long, narrow, auxiliary stowage pouch
was a f f i x e d t o the sidewall beginning with Spacecraft 5. These pouches were
used generally to star the blood pressure bulb and one of the urine hose
and filter assemblies. On some spacecraft they contained small items such as
hose nozzle interconnectors. Beginning with Spacecraft 8, a pair of debris
cutters were stowed in the right hand sidewall pouch.
There were six "hard-mounted" items about the spacecraft. The in-flight
medical kit was mounted between the left hand seat and sidewall on Spacecraft
3 through 7 and between the right hand seat and the sidewall on Spacecraft
8 and up. The voice tape recorder was mounted permanently between the
right hand seat and the sidewall on Spacecraft 3 through 7. Beginning with
Spacecraft 8, the recorder was interchanged with the in-flight medical k i t
and at the same time the mounting was changed to allow the recorder to be
removed from its bracket and be stowed on the left hand circuit breaker
panel fairing pouch cover during orbit. It was made portable primarily for
EVA purposes. The 16 mm camera bracket that mounts on the outboard corner of
the window frame was stowed in a holster mounted on the left sidewall aft and
slightly lower than the sidewall box. A similar h o l s t e r f o r the right window
bracket was mounted on the right sidewall directly opposite the mounting on
t h e l e f t side.
The swizzle stick was located on the right side of the overhead circuit
breaker panel switch guard. Either crew member could use this device to
actuate switches in the other cockpit. An o p t i c a l s i g h t was stowed under
the left instrument panel on each spacecraft.
A pouch approximately 4 x 6 x 1.5 in. deep was located directly below
the left and r i g h t c i r c u i t breaker panels. It was constructed so as to fair
in with the panels. These pouches were used primarily for small, lightweight
items such as the urine collection device (UCD) clamps Velcro strips, small
rolls of tape, and a urine system component.
Each spacecraft had dry stowage bags mounted on the footwell sidewalls
with Velcro. These bags w e r e used for stowing charts, sun shades, reflective
shades, and flight data books. On Spacecraft 3 through 9, a plotboard pouch
was installed on the inboard sidewall of the left footwell. This pouch contained
charts and flight data books in addition to the plotboard. On Spacecraft
4, the ventilation control module (VCM) was stowed in the right footwell.
The VCM was the forerunner of the ELSS.
On Spacecraft 73 an auxiliary food pouch was stowed in the right footwell.
On Spacecraft 8 and 11, a TV monitor was mounted on the inboard
sidewall of the right footwell for launch and re-entry. For the rest of the
flight the TV monitor was stowed in a specially cut mounting on top of the
inboard side of the left ejection seat. On Spacecraft 10 and 11, a 50 ft
umbilical was stowed in the forward portion of the left footwell. The debris
guard under the left instrument panel was modified to make more room for the
umbilical. This was done to provide more clearance f r o m the ejection
envelope.
An o r b i t a l u t i l i t y pouch was installed under the right instrument panel
on Spacecraft 4 through 12. On Spacecraft 4 through 6, this pouch was small
and held only a few items. On Spacecraft 4, it was primarily for the hatch
closing device. On Spacecraft 7, it was enlarged to provide additional
stowage space. Spacecraft 8 through 12 retained the Spacecraft 7 configuration.
Due to the requirement for additional stowage space for experiment and
photographic equipment on Spacecraft 9 through 12, food pouches were installed
on each hatch. Similar pouches were installed on Spacecraft 7 due to the
increased need for food on the 14-day mission. I n i t i a l l y the pouches were not
rigid enough on Spacecraft 9 to hold the food in place before the hatch was
closed. Before the launch of Spacecraft 9, elastic straps were sewed onto
the pouches to provide the required rigidity. As a precaution the crew
planned to eat at least two meals each from the right hatch pouch to avoid
any d i f f i c u l t y i n c l o s i n g t h e h a t c h a f t e r the first EVA exercise.
Incorporated in the water management panel was a water drink gun on the
early spacecraft. On Spacecraft 8 and up, a water metering device was used
which would measure in half-ounce increments and provisions were made for
stowing an additional urine hose and f i l t e r assembly.
The left and right hatch torque boxes were u t i l i z e d

Offline kch

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Re: Living and Working in the Gemini Capsule
« Reply #4 on: 04/01/2009 07:22 PM »
I've seen a Gemini capsule in a museum before and it always made me wonder how they were able to live in such a small area. For example, how was it possible for both of them to even don their space suits? And where were they stored while not being used? Also, where was two weeks worth of food kept (and the resulting waste)?

Mercury was of course smaller but that astronaut didn't have to do much while there. I also know the Gemini suits were flexible but it's the lack of volume in the cabin that is so lacking.
I have often wondered that myself. The impression I've always had regarding the capsule's size was that you pretty much just sat there; there was no getting up and floating to another place in the interior. We know that there was room to remove and get into a space suit, as Borman and Lovell did it on the 2-week long duration mission.  I believe that only one was allowed to be out of his suit at any point in time, so each must have removed and then put it back on at least once.  However, it would be my guess that if there is anyone still out there that was in a position to be able to answer such a question, you're going to get something back like, "it was tight, but they did it."

Hard to forget John Young's description of Gemini as "like sitting sideways in a phone booth", or Pete Conrad calling Gemini 5 "eight days in a garbage can" ... ;)

Offline MarsMethanogen

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Re: Living and Working in the Gemini Capsule
« Reply #5 on: 04/01/2009 07:28 PM »
Wow, Jim, what an amazing amount of detail.  I certainly didn't expect to see this.  What source did you pull this from?

Offline kschachn

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Re: Living and Working in the Gemini Capsule
« Reply #6 on: 04/02/2009 03:36 PM »
Thank you everyone for your replies, and for the detailed description of stowage on the capsule.

It couldn't have been pretty no matter how you look at it, especially for the two-week missions. I don't think I could be in that close of proximity with another human being for that period of time.

Offline JMS

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Re: Living and Working in the Gemini Capsule
« Reply #7 on: 04/02/2009 05:10 PM »
Both Borman and Lovell continue, after all these years, to refer to Gemini 7 as the longest 14 days of their lives. In listening to them spin yarns together, you get the impression that they regard that period the way we humans remember tragic events... something to get through but NEVER want to experience again.

Offline gwiz

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Re: Living and Working in the Gemini Capsule
« Reply #8 on: 04/02/2009 06:57 PM »
Wow, Jim, what an amazing amount of detail.  I certainly didn't expect to see this.  What source did you pull this from?

He got it from NASA CR-1106, Project Gemini A Technical Summary.

Offline MarsMethanogen

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Re: Living and Working in the Gemini Capsule
« Reply #9 on: 04/02/2009 07:05 PM »
Wow, Jim, what an amazing amount of detail.  I certainly didn't expect to see this.  What source did you pull this from?

He got it from NASA CR-1106, Project Gemini A Technical Summary.
Is that document available on the web, perhaps in .PDF format?

Offline gwiz

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Re: Living and Working in the Gemini Capsule
« Reply #10 on: 04/02/2009 07:26 PM »
Is that document available on the web, perhaps in .PDF format?

Haven't tried downloading it, it's 20 meg:
http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19680016105_1968016105.pdf

Offline MarsMethanogen

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Re: Living and Working in the Gemini Capsule
« Reply #11 on: 04/02/2009 08:21 PM »
Is that document available on the web, perhaps in .PDF format?

Haven't tried downloading it, it's 20 meg:
http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19680016105_1968016105.pdf
Thanks!  I downloaded it and it took somewhere on the order of 20 - 30 minutes.

Offline iamlucky13

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Re: Living and Working in the Gemini Capsule
« Reply #12 on: 04/03/2009 12:38 AM »
We know that there was room to remove and get into a space suit, as Borman and Lovell did it on the 2-week long duration mission.  I believe that only one was allowed to be out of his suit at any point in time, so each must have removed and then put it back on at least once.  However, it would be my guess that if there is anyone still out there that was in a position to be able to answer such a question, you're going to get something back like, "it was tight, but they did it."

From one account I read, it sounded like getting in or out of the suit, however flexible it may have been, took several hours to accomplish.

Wikipedia says Lovell got out first, then was ordered to re-suit while Borman had his chance to cool down 148 hours into the mission. Then mission control decided to let them both out.

There's probably a better account somewhere.

I gained a lot of new respect for Lovell and Borman while I was staring at the Gemini capsule in the Astronaut Hall of Fame. I have a lot of trouble sitting still for 5 hours on an airline flight.

Offline mlorrey

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Re: Living and Working in the Gemini Capsule
« Reply #13 on: 04/03/2009 12:56 AM »
We know that there was room to remove and get into a space suit, as Borman and Lovell did it on the 2-week long duration mission.  I believe that only one was allowed to be out of his suit at any point in time, so each must have removed and then put it back on at least once.  However, it would be my guess that if there is anyone still out there that was in a position to be able to answer such a question, you're going to get something back like, "it was tight, but they did it."

From one account I read, it sounded like getting in or out of the suit, however flexible it may have been, took several hours to accomplish.

Wikipedia says Lovell got out first, then was ordered to re-suit while Borman had his chance to cool down 148 hours into the mission. Then mission control decided to let them both out.

There's probably a better account somewhere.

I gained a lot of new respect for Lovell and Borman while I was staring at the Gemini capsule in the Astronaut Hall of Fame. I have a lot of trouble sitting still for 5 hours on an airline flight.

keep in mind that in free fall, you arent really sitting ON something, you are strapped into a vaguely sitting position without any load.

The longest I've sat is 13 hours driving cross country. I imagine being weightless would be less wearing but still 148 hours is a long time.

Offline ChuckC

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Re: Living and Working in the Gemini Capsule
« Reply #14 on: 04/08/2009 12:54 AM »
Both Borman and Lovell continue, after all these years, to refer to Gemini 7 as the longest 14 days of their lives. In listening to them spin yarns together, you get the impression that they regard that period the way we humans remember tragic events... something to get through but NEVER want to experience again.

I suspect that hardest part of the flight would have been boredom; after all, they could not have had a lot to do. Today you could solve the problem by giving them each a lap top with internet access, video games, and movies. There are probably some video game addicts out there that would be disappointed that the flight was over so quickly.

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