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Ad Astra - A Gemini Alternate History Timeline


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I've been wanting for a while to send Gemini to the moon in a realistic way and the time has come, what if the issues plaguing the early Apollo spacecraft went unnoticed and Apollo failed, we begin in 1966, for the launch of AS-501, the first Saturn V.

MISSION LIST:

Spoiler

Mission List and Outcome:

•AS-501: Test Saturn V hardware - success

•Gemini XIII: Test Gemini-Centaur in LEO - success

•Apollo 1: Test Block II SM - failure due to launch vehicle

•Apollo 2: Test Block II spacecraft - partial failure, explosion in SM

•Gemini XIV: Test Gemini lander in LEO - success

•USAFLG2 (abbreviated to LG-02A): USAF counterpart of Gemini XV, dress rehearsal for moon landing - success

•Gemini XV: Second landing on the moon

•Gemini XVI: Third landing on the moon

•SICS: Probe launched to recover ice from Shackleton Crater.

•LG I: Put Columbia into LEO

•LG II: Put Freedom into orbit to rendezvous with Columbia.

•LG III: Targeted landing to rendezvous with SICS on the lunar surface

•Skylab I: Put Skylab space station in orbit of Earth

•MoonLab: Launched MoonLab to low lunar orbit

•MoonLab 1: Launched Kitty Hawk and Wagtail into lunar orbit to land MoonLab at Shackleton Crater.

MODLIST:

Spoiler

Tantares

BDB

ReStock

Conformal Decals

VapourVent

EVE

Waterfall

Modular Launch Pads

ComfortableLanding

Shuttle Orbiter Construction Kit

Tantares Intercolour

 

Edited by ThatBattleCow
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Part I: The Timeline Splits

14 January 1966: Soviet Chief Designer Sergei Korolev survives an operation for haemorrhoids.

 2 October 1966: The first Saturn V, AS-501, stands on LC-39A, ready to ride a pillar of flame into the heavens.

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The first ever flight-ready Saturn V, AS-501, sits atop LC39A, vapour spewing out of the LUT.f3aF6fC_d.webp?maxwidth=760&fidelity=gra

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T - 15 seconds, SIC arms retract.GxUthDW.png

Ignition Sequence Start

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"Liftoff and we have cleared the tower!"

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Max-Q with a view of Florida.

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Inboard cut-off.

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MECO and staging

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SECO!

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SIVB separation and ignition!

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SLA panels jettisoned.

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The Block I Apollo Spacecraft is separated from the Saturn V launch vehicle.

 

At T+2:34:56, engineers lost contact with the unmanned Block I spacecraft, It was later confirmed that onboard equipment was destroyed in a flash fire caused by faulty wiring. 15 minutes after loss of contact, telemetry from the dormant SIVB indicated a breach in the capsule's hull. Several changes are being developed, but the Block II will only be available in 1968. Manned Block I missions, Apollo 1 and 2 are still slated for launch in 1967.

Edited by ThatBattleCow
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Part II

28 February 1967:

Gemini XIII sits atop a Saturn I Centaur on LC-34. Its goal, to test a hypergolic Orbital Maneuvering Engine and single piece Gemini Service Module.

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The crew boards their Gemini capsule on LC-34, in a month's time, an Apollo capsule will be atop a Saturn IB on this very launch pad.

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The crew configure their craft for flight as the access arm is retracted.

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Ignition of the 8 H1 engines.

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Liftoff

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Stage separation

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The six RL10s shut down and Gemini XIII is inserted into a 76 by 72km orbit.

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The centaur is separated from the SIV

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A view of the Atlantic Ocean taken from the capsule, nicknamed Freedom.

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Ignition of the centaur, propelling Freedom into a 72 by 99km orbit.

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Freedom is separated from the centaur upper stage.

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Deorbit using the OMS engine.

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The service module is separated

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Reentry viewed through Freedom's forward windows

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Splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico.

18 March 1967: An orbital test of the Soviet N1 moon rocket takes place at the Baikanour Cosmodrome. It is successful and the Soyuz 7K-LOK spacecraft is inserted into Earth orbit.

I enjoyed making this part despite the BDB Saturn I's instability. If you have any spacecraft name ideas or mission ideas, please reply and I will probably do it.

Edited by ThatBattleCow
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Part III

21 April 1967:
Apollo 1, with its crew of Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee walk down the gantry and into the white room where their Apollo spacecraft waits. After AS-501, several changes have been made to the spacecraft to correct defects observed on the first flight of the Saturn V, most notably an outward opening hatch and an early Block II service module.

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The crew take one last photo in front of their spacecraft, not knowing that about the ill fate of their mission.

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Ignition

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Due to combustion instability, one of the outer H1 engines shut down.

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Due to propellant in the fuel lines, the FCC assumes that everything is nominal and the launch continues

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The Saturn IB starts to veer off course and Commander Grissom pulls the abort handle inside the capsule.

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The LES burns out and canards deploy

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The LES is jettisoned

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The drogue parachutes deploy

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The main chutes deploy 

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The capsule lands on the beach and the crew jolt forward, winding the them and knocking out a few teeth.

 

Apollo 2 is slated to launch in four months with Walter M. Schirra, Donn F. Eisele and Walter Cunningham onboard.

 

29 April 1967: A Soviet LK lander is undergoing testing in Star City, USSR. This places the Soviet program far ahead of the Americans as LM-01 is far from ready. 

Edited by ThatBattleCow
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58 minutes ago, MSteele said:

I saw the crew of Part III and got goosebumps. Was the failure planned on your end or just spooky semi-coincidence with a better outcome?

I never planned to kill the crew of Apollo 1, I wanted to make everyone think I would, but used a launch abort instead. Not gonna say anything about future crews though ;)

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Part IV

5 June 1967:

Apollo 2 sits on the mobile launcher, with a few notable upgrades. The 8 H1 engines have been replaced with a singular F1 engine and fins from the Saturn V. This is the first ever flight of a block II command and service module, complete with a docking probe and docking target on the SIVB.

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The crew board their block II command module atop a modified Saturn IB

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Max-Q

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Stage separation. The modified Saturn IB hosts a SIVB-500 series.

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The CSM separates from their SIVB

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Lining up with the docking target.

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At T+2 days, 5 hours, 36 minutes and 42 seconds, there is an explosion heard throughout the command module, Commander Schirra notices dropping oxygen levels and observes a gas venting out of the service module. The crew and mission control scramble to deorbit the CSM and the nearest possible window.

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"Houston, we have a problem!"

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After deorbiting the crew observe their damaged service module prior to reentry.

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Due to miscalculations on the part of mission control, the crew land in northern China, about 250km from the border with Mongolia.

 

The Apollo spacecraft has been grounded. The failure of the program has brought doubts in the minds of congress, both NASA and all its contractors are worried that they will not be able to achieve Kennedy's goal of landing a man on the moon before 1970.

Edited by ThatBattleCow
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Posted (edited)

Part V: Le Voyage Dans La Lune

Apollo is no more

25 December 1968

The USSR tests their LK lander in LEO.

21 January 1969

The USAF tests a prototype lander

28 February 1969

Several tests are performed on the Apollo CSM to no avail. All future missions are cancelled.


16th of May 1969

President Richard Nixon stands before congress. "Due to recent events, all future Apollo missions are suspended, pending cancellation. We choose to continue to the moon with the Gemini program, and predict a landing in November this year."

It turns out that the God of Divine Distance could not get over 5000 miles away from the launchpad without issue.

 

20th June 1969

The God of Wealth stands tall and mighty upon the launchpad 39B, propelling Constitution and her crew to the moon.

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Constitution and Santa Maria sit atop LC39B, as Gemini 15 is on 39A.

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"Ignition sequence start."

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LG-02A lifts off, aiming to test the USAF's Gemini lander in orbit of the moon. This is also the aim of Gemini 15.

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"The tower is clear!"

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Stage separation.

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The prototype Gemini LES is jettisoned.

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Cutoff

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SIVB separation

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The SIVB is re-ignited to perform the trans-lunar injection

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The spacecraft, atop an Apollo service module with life support equipment removed, separates from the SIVB

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Lunar Orbit Insertion

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The Earthrise viewed from Constitution.

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Santa Maria's aerodynamic cover is jettisoned.

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Transposition and docking of Constitution and Santa Maria.

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Crew transfer. An EVA is required due to the Gemini's small size.

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For the next 2 hours, Santa Maria's systems are checked out in Lunar orbit.

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The Apollo's LMDE engine lowers Santa Maria's orbit to a 42x6km orbit.

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Santa Maria separates from the Apollo

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The crew goes against direct orders from the Air Force and performs PDI.

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Contact and shutdown. Santa Maria lands in the moon's Mare Crisium.

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After 3 hours on the surface, Commander Buzz Aldrin steps out of his lander.

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Aldrin's first action is to place the American flag on the Moon, fulfilling Kennedy's goal of landing a man on the mon.

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Santa Maria blasts off the moon's surface

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Aldrin docks to Constitution and Michael Collins waiting in orbit

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After transfer, Santa Maria is jettisoned.

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Trans-Earth injection

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While approaching the Earth, the crew are able to observe the Aurora Borealis.

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SM jettison

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Reentry over Japan.

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The crew splash down in the Pacific Ocean, near Hawaii.

Now that America has won the moon, all eyes are on the Soviet Union to see if they can match the western achievement. Commander Aldrin is both honoured and lambasted by his Air Force superiors for disobeying direct orders. Discharged or not, Aldrin's name will go down in history. Gemini 15's mission has been shifted and its crew of Jim Lovell and Tom Stafford require additional training. Their lander Challenger also needs to be modified.

Edited by ThatBattleCow
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Part VI: "We are go for landing"

4 July 1969

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Gemini 15 sits on LC39A, getting ready to launch at midnight on July 5th

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The peaceful soundscape is shattered at 8 seconds to midnight, as the 5 F1 engines of Gemini 15 Ignite.

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The tower is clear at 05-07-1969, 00:00:12

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The Saturn V punches through the layer of fog over Florida

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Staging

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Inboard cutoff

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Trans-lunar injection

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The spacecraft separates from the SIVB

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Lunar Orbit Insertion

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Challenger is free

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Capture

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Jim Lovell tests a new jetpack, dubbed the MMU, in low lunar orbit

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Challenger separates from Odyssey

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Deorbit burn

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Touchdown. Jim Lovell becomes the second man on the moon, 9 July 1969.

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LOVELL: "Houston, this view is truly incredible."

CAPCOM (Buzz Aldrin): "Magnificent desolation."

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The American flag is placed into the soil of the Ocean of Storms

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Unlike LG-02A, several surface experiments are brought onboard Challenger, including a retroreflector and a seismometer.

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Challenger lifts off the surface of the moon, July 10th, 1969.

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Docking with Odyssey

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Trans-Earth injection

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The service module is separated from Odyssey

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Splashdown, 13 July 1969. During reentry, a new reusable heat shield is tested, made of thousands of silica tiles. Odyssey is the first reusable spacecraft.

 

25 July 1969

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This image is broadcast to television screens all over the world. Alexi Leonov becomes the first cosmonaut on the moon. Discussions are now happening in both the Soviet and American space programs about permanent lunar colonies.

 

The timeline is now completely different. Do you think I should make this like For All Mankind and do surface bases. As always, feedback is appreciated!

 

Edited by ThatBattleCow
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Part VII: South Pole 

26 January 1970

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Odyssey, now sporting a new Paintjob, is once again atop LC-39A (for real this time!), prepared to go to the moon, now with a block II service module.

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Liftoff viewed from the LCC, carrying Neil Armstrong and Alan Bean to the Moon.

The Saturn V launch is standard at this point, let's skip it.

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Odyssey is inserted into orbit.

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Trans-lunar injection.

1 hour after TLI, an N1 launches from the Kazakh SSR.

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Separation from the SIVB

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Lunar Orbit Insertion.

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Eagle is freed.

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Armstrong flies to his lander in lunar orbit.

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Eagle separates from Odyssey.

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Touchdown at the lunar south pole, near Shackleton crater.

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The American flag is placed into the regolith.

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Armstrong looks over Shackleton crater.

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While returning to his lander, Armstrong spots something on the horizon. Houston allows him to investigate.

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Armstrong comes across a Soviet cosmonaut and her LK lander. The cosmonaut brandishes a mining hammer. Armstrong is ordered to leave the site.

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The cosmonaut climbs into the LK.

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The LK blasts off the surface unexpectedly, knocking Armstrong to the ground. The LK's engine fails and the lander falls into the depths of Shackleton.

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Eagle blasts off the surface.

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Docking with Odyssey.

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Trans-Earth Injection

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Odyssey once again lands in the Gulf of Mexico.

 

The Soviet Union announce that they had an uncrewed N1 rocket launch from Baikonur, but NASA knows that this is false. The events of Gemini 16 on the moon are classified.

 

 

 

Edited by ThatBattleCow
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Part VIII: Ice

Scans and surface samples from Gemini 16 have indicated large amounts of ice on the Moon's south pole. The SICS (Shackleton Ice Collection System) sits on a Titan IV on SLC-41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

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A Titan IV sits on SLC-41

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With the iconic wail of the LR-87's turbopumps, the Titan IV lifts off SLC-41.

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"We've got a roll program."

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Max-Q

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SRB separation

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Staging

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After orbit insertion, the Transtage separates.

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Trans-lunar injection using the Transtage

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Lunar Orbit Insertion.

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The Orbiter stage hits the surface at Shackleton.

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SICS touches down on the Moon's south pole.

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SICS deploys its drill and begins harvesting the regolith, Gemini 17 will target a landing to collect the sample.

KSRSS is still broken, but I like KSC Extended, so we will continue on normal KSP for the foreseeable future.

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Part IX: New Generation

NASA and the USAF have decided to develop a Block II Gemini capsule.

19 July 1970

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LG-001 sits on the now 12 year old Pad 5.

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Fire!

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LES ejection.

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The Block II lands on the beach.

LG-002

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LG-002 lifts off Pad 6 atop a Little Joe II1/2, a smaller Little Joe II.

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The booster fails and the LES fires, but the capsule loses control.

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The capsule hits the road too hard and explodes

LG-003

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Liftoff!

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Abort! The capsule now has 3 small abort fins.

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Drogue deploy.

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Splashdown.

 

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Part X: Together

The twin spacecraft Columbia and Freedom (named after her Gemini 13 namesake) are rolled out of the VAB onto Pad 39A and B. Their mission is meant to mimic a proposed Skylab mission, with a Gemini II launching into orbit to rendezvous with a space station.

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Columbia prepares to launch first on 39A, with Freedom launching 3 hours afterward.

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Liftoff of Columbia as Freedom's crew of Deke Slayton and Jim Irwin board.

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Stage separation

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After SIVB shutdown, Columbia separates from the Saturn IB, carrying John Young and Dave Scott.

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Columbia unfurls her solar panels.

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Meanwhile at Cape Kennedy, Freedom lifts off from Pad 39B

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Freedom separates from her Saturn IB, ready to perform a rendezvous burn to reach Columbia.

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After station keeping for 10 minutes, final approach is initiated.

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"Capture"

"Copy Deke, soft capture."

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Deke Slayton performing cabin chamber equalization, prepared to board Columbia through the crew tunnel.

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The two crews' views of each other through the capsule windows.

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After a week docked, Freedom jettisons her docking port while still docked for redundancy. Explosive bolts will separate the whole array from Columbia.

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Columbia performs her deorbit burn.

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When the SM is separated, the radiators are jettisoned to ensure it burns up in the atmosphere.

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Splashdown in the Pacific, Freedom will have the same procedure two days later.

This was really fun to make! I adore the Gemini II's and can't wait to send them to the moon, maybe with a LM!

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Part XI: Rendezvous

Freedom is once again rolled out to LC-39A, ready to carry Alan Shepard and Fred Haise to SICS.

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The newest Saturn V is mated to Freedom and Seahawk to be rolled out to LC-39A.

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"Liftoff at 11:51AM local time."

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SIVB shutdown.

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Trans-lunar injection.

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The SLA panels are jettisoned.

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Transposition and docking.

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The LM Seahawk is extracted from the SIVB.

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LOI

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The crew transfer from Freedom into Seahawk.

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Seahawk is checked out in orbit of the Moon.

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Shepard and Haise land at Shackleton and walk to SICS to collect the samples.

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As part of the surface science, Shepard hits a golf ball to see how far it goes.

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"Seahawk, you are go for launch."

"Roger Houston, we are ready to do some flying."

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"Good liftoff."

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Seahawk and Freedom dock, following crew transfer, the LM is jettisoned.

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Trans-Earth injection.

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SM jettison.

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Drogue chute deploys.

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Splashdown, Freedom now has another mission under her belt.

Plans are being made for a lunar base at Shackleton.

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Part XII: Skylab

14 February 1971

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A modified Saturn V sits on LC-39A, carrying America's first space station, Skylab.

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After burning through all of its fuel. the SIC is jettisoned.

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The SII jettisons its engine skirt.

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Skylab separates from the SII after being inserted into orbit.

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The ATM folds down from Skylab's main fuselage.

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Skylab sits in orbit waiting for her crew to arrive in a few days.

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Part XIII

20 February 1971

Skylab II prepares to launch Pete Conrad and Joseph Kerwin to rendezvous with Skylab

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Pete Conrad prepares to board Columbia.

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Max-Q

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The SIVB separates from the SIB

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LES jettison.

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Columbia separates from the Saturn IB

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Columbia performs a rendezvous burn to reach Skylab.

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Soft capture.

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Hard Capture.

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After 3 days on orbit, Pete Conrad performs an EVA to help configure some of Skylab's instruments.

Columbia will remain docked to Skylab for 150 days, in 130 days time, Freedom will arrive, carrying the crew of Skylab III.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Part XIV: Strides in technology

12 March 1971

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A mockup of a new spacecraft is rolled out of the Hangar in Palmdale, California.

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The new Space Transportation System will be ready, earliest in 1979. It will act as a ferry for both Skylab and the lunar base, now named Moonlab.

In other news...

15 March 1971

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A US spy satellite detects a launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, it is a Soyuz rocket carrying a Zenit spy satellite. Inside sources in the Kremlin informed the DoD that the satellite will be used to spy on US operations at Vandenburg AFB in California.

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Booster sep

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The satellite waits for California to pass below it and begins taking photos. 

Sorry this one was short. The motherlode is coming tomorrow, where we will see the final flight of an American icon.

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Part XV: Black Ops

18 March 1971

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G-1971-03 sits atop a Titan II on LC-19, its goal, to rendezvous and neutralize the Zenit spy satellite designated Kosmos 238.

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Liftoff! The Gemini capsule carries Gus Grissom and Dave Scott into the sky.

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Separation

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Shutdown, Gemini is now in orbit.

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After separating from Titan, Gemini performs a rendezvous burn to reach Kosmos in 5 orbits time.

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2 and a half hours later, Gus Grissom performs station keeping maneuvers around Kosmos.

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Dave Scott disembarks from Gemini, testing a new suit known as the EMU, thrusts over to Kosmos.

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After collecting the film out of the return capsule, Scott reembarks the Gemini capsule. Due to lack of docking, Gemini is instead fitted with several cameras in its nose section for observing the Earth and the Kosmos satellite.

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The crew continue to station keep around the Spysat.

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The crew observe slight oscillations in the Satellite, caused by Scott pushing off after film removal.

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Deorbit

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Splashdown in the Pacific Ocean

 

All photos and documents from this mission will remain classified for many years to come, to the public, G-1971-03 is nothing but an unmanned test flight of block II hardware and Earth observational purposes. 

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