March 23, 1965 – 54 years ago today, astronauts Gus Grissom and John Young successfully completed the flight of Gemini 3, the maiden voyage of NASA’s second manned space program. The flight, meant to test the capabilities of the Gemini spacecraft, lasted 4 hours, 52 minutes, and 31 seconds, and the crew performed the first orbital maneuver ever made by a manned spacecraft. Command Pilot Grissom became the first human in history to fly in space twice, following his Mercury flight aboard Liberty Bell 7 flight four years earlier. Gemini 3 was the first of six spaceflights for Pilot Young.
“John Young and Gus Grissom—two of the most perfectly paired crew members that I’ve ever seen. They seemed to have a zest for space, they were kids at heart. It’s almost like they were goin’ off on a joyride there.” -Gene Kranz
“About this time John was supposed to check out some of our space meals… I was concentrating on our spacecraft’s performance when suddenly John asked me, ‘You care for a corned beef sandwich, skipper?’ If I could have fallen out of my couch, I would have… John’s deadpan offer of this strictly nonregulation goodie remains one of the highlights of our flight for me.
“I do know if NASA had asked John and me to take Molly Brown back to space the day after splashdown, we would have done it with pleasure. She flew like a queen, did our unsinkable Molly.” -Gus Grissom, Gemini!
I visited right near the launchpad of Gemini 3 today at the Cape Canaveral Early Space Tour at Kennedy Space Center. I thought it was pretty cool being at the launchpad on the 54th anniversary of Gemini 3’s launch
Since we’re at it, here’s LC-19′s gantry at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum on Cape Canaveral (part of that same tour) from this past Sunday