Mercury and Gemini: The History and Legacy of NASA's Groundbreaking Spaceflight Programs, Charles River Editors
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Mercury and Gemini: The History and Legacy of NASA's Groundbreaking Spaceflight Programs

Author: Charles River Editors

Narrator: Bill Caufield

Unabridged: 2 hr 27 min

Format: Digital Audiobook

Publisher: Findaway Voices

Published: 04/02/2023

Genre: Science - Astronomy

Synopsis

The successful Apollo 11 mission was certainly an astonishing technological triumph, but what is less well remembered now are that many programs preceded Apollo and were essential to its success. Project Mercury was one of those, and in many ways it represented the greatest step forward in terms of the conquest of space. Before Project Mercury, there was no certainty that a human could survive the rigors of a space launch or live outside Earth’s atmosphere. There was no agreement on just what an astronaut should be, and various individuals involved debated whether they should be pilots, technicians, scientists, or even merely observers in an automated craft. Before Project Mercury, no one was entirely certain what a rocket capable of taking a person into space would look like, or even whether building such a craft was within the capabilities of engineering in the 1950s.

Gemini also marked another important milestone as America finally surpassed the Soviet Union in space technology. Before Gemini, the US was playing a desperate game of catch-up as it attempted to match Soviet accomplishments. The last Project Mercury flight launched in May 1963, and before then, Russia had put the first satellite in Earth’s orbit and the first man in space and had followed these with longer flights than the tiny Mercury spacecraft. In terms of military significance, it was recognized that the ability to dominate space was very important, and to many people in America, it seemed that Russia was well on the way to doing this. No one could have guessed that it would be almost three years before the next American manned space flight occurred when Gemini 3 left the launch pad in March 1965. It seemed to many people that the Russian lead in space exploration had become unassailable and, in order to reestablish the credibility of the US space program, the Gemini flights simply had to succeed.

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