Kuiper poses with the middle section of a Titan II rocket.

Titan II Rocket

Kuiper poses with the nosecone.

Titan II ICBM with Kuiper for scale. Thank you @nuclear_museum for allowing Kuiper to visit.

Success! We’ve managed to put a single person in orbit, keep them there for a day and a half and return them safely to Earth. However, we still have a lot of things to work out before we can take one small step on the moon, including:
♊ Can we do the same thing with two people? Will they get along as roommates?
♊ Can people hang out in space for up to two weeks and still function?
♊ Can we reliably rendezvous (line up with) and dock (connect) two spacecraft?

Thus begins the story of Project Gemini. We’ll answer these questions over the course of twelve missions, all of which were launched with a Titan II.

Since we’re taking up two people, as well as more supplies for longer missions, we’ll need this bigger rocket to get all that into orbit. Unlike our single stage Redstone or stage-and-a-half Atlas, the Titan II is a true two stage rocket. This rocket is 103 tall and 10 feet in diameter. That’s about 23 feet taller than our Redstone, and 11 feet taller than Atlas. For reference, Kuiper is about 22.5″ at the shoulder.

What’s the deal with rocket stages? Imagine you have a big bottle of soda vs. two smaller half-sized bottles of soda. With the big bottle, you still have to carry around the whole big bottle, even after you’re most of the way through the soda. With smaller bottles, you can ditch one of the bottles after you’re done with it. That way after you finish the first little soda, you’re carrying less weight than you would with the big bottle. When you do this with rockets, they’re waaaayyyy more fuel efficient.

I originally said this series was going to be 50 posts but this is post number 22 and we just started Gemini. ? I hope you’re enjoying this history of the American space program. There’s a lot more to come before we hit Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary in July.

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bvk89BfjYnX/

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