Gemini 3 Lapel Pin
Gemini 3 was the first crewed Earth-orbiting spacecraft of the Gemini series. It was piloted by astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom and John Young, with the primary objective of demonstrating the crewed qualifications of the Gemini spacecraft including evaluation of the two-man Gemini design, the worldwide tracking network, the orbit attitude and maneuver system (OAMS), the control of reentry flight path and landing point, spacecraft systems, and spacecraft recovery. Secondary objectives included evaluation of flight crew equipment and effects of low level launch vehicle oscillations (POGO) on the crew, performance of three experimants, and to obtain photographic coverage from orbit.
Gemini 3 was launched from Complex 19 at 9:24 a.m. EST (14:24:00.064 UT) and inserted 5 minutes 54 seconds later (9:29:54 a.m. EST) into a 161.2 x 224.2 km (87 x 121 nautical mile) orbit with a period of 88.3 minutes. At the end of the first orbit Grissom effected the first orbital maneuver, which lowered the orbit to a near-circular 158 x 169 kms. On the second orbit Grissom altered the spacecraft inclination by 0.02 degrees. Near the end of the third orbit, at 4:21:23 ground elapsed time, or GET (1:45:23 p.m. EST) the perigee was lowered to 84 km to allow the orbit to decay naturally in case of retrorocket failure. Reentry began at the end of the third orbit and was manually controlled with retrofire at 4:33:23 GET (1:57:23 p.m. EST). At an altitude of 90 km about 7 kg of water were injected into the ionized plasma sheath resulting in improved communications during the blackout period.