The US Space Park


II. United States Space Park

Saturn V boattail and Apollo Command Module

A major feature of the New York World's Fair is the two-acre United States Space Park which includes, among other space-age hardware, the Aurora 7 that carried Astronaut Scott Carpenter on the second U.S. manned orbital flight.

The Space Park is co-sponsored by the National Aeronautic and Space Administration, the Department of Defense and the World's Fair. It includes the most imposing array of full-scale U.S. rockets and spacecraft ever assembled outside of Cape Kennedy, Florida.

Highlighting the park is a full-scale "boattail" or propulsion section of the massive Saturn V rocket which will send American astronauts to the Moon. The model stands 52 feet tall, measures 33 feet in diameter and is the bottom section of the 282-foot tall Saturn.

Among the spacecraft shown are the Tiros and Nimbus weather satellites; Syncom, Telstar, Relay and Echo communications satellites; Explorers for near-Earth space investigation; the orbiting observatories; Rangers and Surveyors for unmanned lunar exploration, and Mariner II, the world's first successful Venus probe. Also in the group are the Canadian-built Alouette, the British Ariel I, and Discoverer XIV, the first satellite recovered from orbit by aircraft when it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere.

Towering over the two-acre exhibit is a Titan II-Gemini launch vehicle and its two-man spacecraft. The Titan II booster, 110 feet high, stands with the Gemini capsule attached on top just as it will be on the launch pad at Cape Kennedy.

Surrounding the Titan II-Gemini are full-scale models of the Apollo Command and Service Modules which will carry American astronauts to the moon, the Lunar Excursion Module, and two-man Gemini spacecraft.

Other full-scale exhibits in the Park are the Atlas-Mercury and Thor-Delta rockets, and X-15 rocket-powered research aircraft and the Agena rocket.

A biosatellite spacecraft illustrates future missions to explore the effects of the space environment on animal and plant tissues.

The NERVA, or Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application, is shown in one-quarter scale, and the SNAP-8 (Space Nuclear Auxiliary Power) is represented in one-twelfth scale. A 1/48th scale model of the Titan III C launch vehicle is also shown.


Titan II, a two-stage U.S. Air Force booster, has been chosen by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to launch the Gemini two-man spacecraft. Its first stage develops about 430,000 pounds of thrust at sea level. The second stage develops about 100,000 pounds of thrust at altitude. Titan II stands 90 feet tall and can place a spacecraft weighing about 7,000 pounds into orbit around the Earth. It is 10 feet in diameter and uses storable liquid propellants that burn on contact with each other. Thus the Gemini launch vehicle can be fueled well ahead of launch and need not be drained if a launch is postponed.

Modification of Titan II for the Gemini program include development of a malfunction detection system, duplication of vital systems, and increased astronaut control of the vehicle.

A full scale model of Titan II with a Gemini spacecraft mounted on top, 110 feet tall, is on display in the U.S. Space Park.

Titan III is under development as a standard space launch system and part of the National Launch Vehicle Program. It is the first launch system developed by the Air Force from the outset as a space booster. Capable of performing a variety of manned and unmanned space missions in the next decade, Titan III, in it's "C" configuration, is a three-stage, 103-foot-tall vehicle developing about 2.5 million pounds of thrust.

Titan III is based on Titan II, modified principally by strapping two large solid-fuel rockets to its sides and adding a liquid-propellant third stage. It will be able to place 5,000 to 25,000-pound payloads in low altitude orbits, 10 tons in a 100-nautical mile orbit, or 13,000 pounds in a 1,000-nautical mile orbit.

It will be used to launch the Air Force Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL).

Atlas and Titan rockets


The next major step after Mercury in the United States manned space flight program is Project Gemini. This project's goals are:

To determine man's performance and behavior during orbital flights for as long as two weeks.

To develop and perfect techniques for orbital rendezvous and docking, the bringing together and coupling of craft in orbit;

To carry out scientific investigations of space that require participation and supervision of men aboard a spacecraft.

The Department of Defense and NASA have agreed on joint arrangements for the planning of experiments, the conduct of flight tests, and the analysis and dissemination of results.

The two-man Gemini spacecraft externally resembles the Mercury spacecraft. It is 1 1/2 feet wider than Mercury at the base and lengthened proportionately. It provides about 50 percent more cabin space than Mercury and weighs about 7,000 pounds. Two men will pilot the Gemini spacecraft.

Gemini components will be outside the crew compartments and arranged in easily removable units, thereby facilitating check-out and maintenance.

Included in Gemini equipment are docking apparatus for coupling with another vehicle in space; a life support system for maintaining pressure, temperature, and atmospheric composition of the crew cabin; instruments to collect, transmit, and record data on conditions of the spacecraft and astronauts; guidance and controls systems operating in conjunction with computer to aid in navigation, rendezvous with another craft, entering Earth's atmosphere, and landing; radar to aid in rendezvous operations; and a landing and recovery system including a small parachute to stabilize the craft, the paraglider mechanism, landing gear, and recovery aids such as tracking beacons, flashing lights, and two-way voice radios.

Ejection Seats -- Gemini will have no escape tower. Instead, each astronaut will have an ejection seat (similar to that used in a fighter aircraft) for escape during launch or for emergencies in the recovery phase.

Adapter Section -- The two-piece adapter section is attached to the heat shield at Gemini's base. The adapter section is 7 1/2 feet in diameter at the top, 7 1/2 feet long, and 10 feet in diameter at its base. It weighs about 2,200 pounds. It is made up of the equipment and retrograde modules. As an aid in distinguishing the Gemini parts, the crew section has been designated the re-entry module.

The equipment module contains fuel, fuel cells, oxygen for breathing and a propulsion system for orbital attitude control (orientation) and maneuvers. The retrograde module, sandwiched between the equipment and re-entry modules, contains the braking rockets that decelerate Gemini and enable it to descend from orbit. It also contains a propulsion system to aid in orienting and maneuvering the craft.

The astronauts jettison the equipment module during preparation for return to Earth. They discard the retrograde module just before entry into the atmosphere.

To Land Like and Airplane -- Gemini flights will employ parachutes for landing. In later flights the parachutes may be replaced by a 45-foot wide wedge-shaped paraglider.

The paraglider will be part of the equipment of the re-entry module, the only part of Gemini designed to return to Earth. The device, deployed at about 40,000 feet, will enable the astronauts to maneuver the module to any desired landing point within a 20-mile radius.

Agena rocket


Phase 1--Launch and Insertion Into Orbit -- In the Gemini orbital rendezvous mission, an Atlas will first launch an Agena rocket, modified to link up with the Gemini spacecraft, into a near-circular orbit. Ground stations will track Agena and determine the best time to launch Gemini. Later, a Titan II will propel Gemini into an elongated orbit with an altitude generally lower than that of Agena but with apogee (highest altitude) at the same altitude of the Agena orbit.

Phase 2--Closing -- As soon as Gemini's radar acquires Agena, the so-called closing phase of rendezvous begins. Radar information is fed into Gemini's computer which tells the pilots which rockets to fire and when and how long they must operate them to keep the craft stabilized and gain on their target. When the two craft are about 20 miles apart, the astronauts are expected to sight Agena and supplement radar information with visual observation. A high-intensity flashing light on Agena will help the astronauts keep their target in sight. By the end of the closing phase, Gemini and Agena will be 10 to 100 feet apart and traveling in the same orbit.

Phase 3--Docking --The final phase of rendezvous is docking, the link-up of the two vehicles. In this phase, much of the sensing, computing, and decision requirements are within the capability of man. Using visual observation, the astronauts will carefully maneuver Gemini into contact with Agena. They are aided by an aiming bar on the Gemini spacecraft and a notch in the rocket's receiving cone.

As they near their target, the astronauts must reduce the relative velocities between the two craft to less than 1 1/2 miles per hour, although both are whirling around the Earth at about 18,000 miles per hour. Moreover, they must align the conical nose of their craft with the docking socket of the Agena.

They will accomplish this by using the attitude controls to pitch Gemini (move its nose up or down), yaw the craft (turn its nose to the right or left), or roll it around the long axis, as conditions demand.

Docking will be accomplished when the cone-shaped nose of Gemini is gently nudged into the matching slot of the Agena. Coupling of the craft will be automatic, and the astronauts will be able to operate the joined vehicles as a single unit, adding the Agena's propulsion system to that of the Gemini spacecraft.

At the conclusion of their mission, the astronauts will detach Agena and jettison the equipment module. Then, they will turn the spacecraft around, fire the retrorockets to slow down and descent to Earth, and discard the retrograde module.

Gemini Crew May Step Out Into Space -- During advanced stages of the Gemini program, its pressure-suited crew may open the hatches and emerge from the spacecraft while in orbit. Moreover, they may push themselves from the craft, and appear to float in space as they speed around the Earth at about 18,000 miles per hour. For this operation, they will be tethered to the craft to insure their return. Gemini will store sufficient oxygen to re-fill its cabin when the astronauts return.

This experiment will help pave the way for future operations in which man can make repairs, assemble orbiting stations, and perform other functions in space.

Source: Fair Publication: "Science at the Fair"

Photos by Peter A. Leavens


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