The picture below of NASA Astronaut Groups 1 and 2 was taken in February 1963. Astronaut Group 1 was the original Mercury 7, and are seated in the front row (Cooper, Grissom, Carpenter, Schirra, Glenn, Sheppard, and Slayton). Astronaut Group 2 was added for the Gemini Program, and stand in the back row (White, McDivitt, Young, See, Conrad, Borman, Armstrong, Stafford, and Lovell).

There are three models of spacecraft in the picture: two on the table and one held by Wally Schirra. What specific spacecraft are supposed to be represented by these three models?

Astronaut Groups 1 and 2


1 Answer 1


On the left in front of Cooper & Grissom is, I believe, a model of an Agena rocket stage, used as the basis for the Gemini-Agena Target Vehicle, which was the uncrewed rendezvous-docking target for some of the Gemini missions. This photo, from 1963, is over two years before the GATV flew, so doesn't reflect the final design.

Here's a diagram of the GATV as built; it looks like the model includes the Agena upper stage tankage and engine, but not the full length of the Gemini-specific portion (mainly docking hardware & control systems) above it:

cutaway profile drawing of the GATV, showing the docking target, Agena tankage, and Agena rocket motor

The overall proportions of the model are similar to the Augmented Target Docking Adapter also used in Gemini, but that vehicle wasn't developed until after the failure of the first GATV in 1965.

In the middle, Wally Schirra is holding a model of the Mercury capsule with its launch escape system.

On the right in front of Shepard and Slayton is an early version of Grumman's Apollo LM design. Among other differences from the final LM, it has large, curved "helicopter style" windows (replaced by small triangular windows with a distinct downward-facing tilt, to reduce weight), a circular forward hatch (replaced with a rectangular hatch to allow the bulky life-support backpacks to pass) and 5 landing legs (reduced to 4 in the final design for weight savings and RCS thruster impingement concerns).


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