5
$\begingroup$

Gemini 6A and 7 were two manned missions that together accomplished the first successful space rendezvous. As they were in space at the same time,

  1. Did they share the same mission control room, or use different rooms?
  2. How did the flight controller layout compare to a single-spacecraft mission?
  3. And was there one flight director in charge or two?

Note that they could and did use the same launch control room and launch pad, as they were launched on different days.

$\endgroup$
6
$\begingroup$

They didn't have two functioning control rooms, so swapped off using the control room for the vehicle that was most active at the time, and used the distributed Mercury-style control for the less active vehicle, swapping back as required.

The men in John Hodge's Flight Control Division found it "a hell of a great challenge and to a man they wanted to press on as soon as possible." One of them suddenly said, "Why don't we handle it as if one of the spacecraft were a Mercury-type and the other a Gemini-type spacecraft?" Mercury controllers at the tracking stations observed data on their consoles, summarized it, and forwarded the result by teletype to Mercury Control Center. Gemini VII could be handled that way while it served as a passive target for Gemini VI. For Gemini missions, the stations were fitted with computer communications processors. As the spacecraft passed overhead, the processors interrogated the appropriate systems for specific data, which were automatically transmitted to Mission Control. Gemini VI, the active partner in the rendezvous, would be controlled by the more sophisticated system. With this as a basis, an operational mode was laid out.

After Gemini VII lifted off, flight control would be carried out in the normal manner while the pad was being prepared for the second launch. Once the flight controllers were sure the orbiting spacecraft was operating properly, Mission Control would concentrate on Schirra and Stafford in their spacecraft, and the tracking network would watch Gemini VII, record data, and send information by teletype to the Houston controllers. This mode would continue until the complicated rendezvous mission ended and Gemini VI-A (so called to distinguish it from the originally planned mission whose objective had been rendezvous with Agena) returned to Earth. Then Gemini VII would become the focus of communications again. Kraft was soon convinced that the operation could be carried out safely. He told his Mission Planning and Analysis Division to set up the flight plan so the second launch could take place as soon as the pad was ready.

source

Some details about the means used to configure the control center are described on pp. 184-185 of the Gemini Midprogram Conference

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Interesting. This was the same space agency that (maybe a bit later) had a Launch Control Center with 4 control rooms... $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Apr 25 at 11:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Dual ops was ... interesting... even in the shuttle era. We routinely ran sims while missions were up, but at least once, one of my colleagues in a sim ended up talking to the crew in space instead of the sim crew. In the ISS era it was business as usual though. ISS MCC, shuttle MCC, and sims ran simo all the time. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Apr 25 at 12:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.