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Gemini 11 Target

NSSDCA/COSPAR ID: 1966-080A

Description

The Gemini 11 Agena Target Vehicle (GATV 5006) was launched from Cape Canaveral at 8:05:01 a.m. EST (13:05:01.725 UT) on 12 September 1966 using an Atlas-Agena D rocket into a near-circular 300 km orbit. Gemini 11 was launched an hour and 40 minutes later and rendezvoused and docked withthe GAT1 at 11:16 a.m. On 13 September at 9:51 a.m. EST Richard Gordon began a 20 minute EVA from Gemini 11. He moved across to the GATV-11 and detached one end of the 30 meter tether and attached it to the Gemini spacecraft docking bar. The Agena primary propulsion system was fired for 25 seconds at 2:12:41 a.m. EST on 14 September, raising the docked spacecraft apogee to 1374.1 km. After two orbits the Agena was fired again for 22.5 seconds to lower the Gemini-Agena back down to a 287 x 304 km orbit. The spacecraft were undocked shortly after 10:00 a.m. and Gemini 11 moved to the end of the 30 meter tether attaching the two spacecraft. At 11:55 a.m. Pete Conrad initiated a slow rotation of the Gemini capsule about the GATV which kept the tether taut and the spacecraft a constant distance apart at the ends of the tether. After about three hours the tether was released and the spacecraft moved apart. The GATV was left in a 285 x 305 km orbit.

Gemini Agena Target Vehicle

The Gemini Agena Target Vehicle was designed to be launched into Earth orbit prior to a Gemini mission and used for rendezvous and docking practice. The GATV had a docking cone at the forward end into which the nose of the Gemini spacecraft could be inserted and held with docking latches. The GATV was a 7.93 meter long cylinder with a diameter of 1.52 meters, a dry mass of 1833 kg, and a fueled mass at orbital injection of 3298 kg. The forward section of the Agena airframe held the guidance, flight control electronics, telemetry, command, tracking, electrical power, and propellant pressurization equipment. The primary and secondary propulsion systems were at the aft end of the target vehicle with the attitude control gas tanks, and the main propellant (fuel and oxidizer) tanks were located in the mid-section. Propulsion was via a bi-propellant system, using unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) and inhibited red fuming nitric acid (IRFNA). The Agena propulsion systems could be run while the Gemini was docked, allowing the GATV to be used to change the orbit of the docked pair. A minimum of five engine starts was possible. The docking cone was connected to the front end by shock absorbing dampers. Acquisition running lights and target vehicle status display indicators were situated on the front end. A 2.1 meter long retractable L-band boom antenna extended from the side of the cylinder near the front. Tracking and command of the GATV were also aided by a rendezvous beacon, two spiral L-band antennas, two tracking antennas (C-band and S-band), two VHF telemetry antennas, and a UHF command antenna. Micrometeoroid packages and other experiments could also be mounted on the GATV.

Gemini Program

The Gemini program was designed as a bridge between the Mercury and Apollo programs, primarily to test equipment and mission procedures in Earth orbit and to train astronauts and ground crews for future Apollo missions. The general objectives of the program included: long duration flights in excess of of the requirements of a lunar landing mission; rendezvous and docking of two vehicles in Earth orbit; the development of operational proficiency of both flight and ground crews; the conduct of experiments in space; extravehicular operations; active control of reentry flight path to achieve a precise landing point; and onboard orbital navigation. Each Gemini mission carried two astronauts into Earth orbit for periods ranging from 5 hours to 14 days. The program consisted of 10 crewed launches, 2 uncrewed launches, and 7 target vehicles, at a total cost of approximately 1,280 million dollars.

Alternate Names

  • Agena Target Vehicle 11
  • GATV-5006
  • 02414

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1966-09-12
Launch Vehicle: Atlas-Agena D
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 1833.0 kg

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Manned Space Flight (United States)

Discipline

  • Engineering

Additional Information

Questions or comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams.

 

Personnel

NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. William C. SchneiderProject ManagerNASA Headquarters 
Dr. Charles W. MathewsProject ManagerNASA Headquarters 
Dr. George E. MuellerProgram ManagerNASA Headquartersinfo@kistleraero.com

Selected References

Gemini summary conference, NASA, SP-138, Wash, DC, Feb. 1967.

Grimwood, J. M., et al., Project Gemini technology and operations - A chronology, NASA, NASA SP-4002, Wash., DC, 1969.

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