Tuesday, March 17, 2015

50 Years Ago: GT-3 Gets its Name

One version of the GT-3 mission patch design.

With less than a week to go before launch, astronauts Gus Grissom and John Young officially designated their upcoming flight spacecraft as "Gemini 3" and "Molly Brown." During Grissom's last flight, a sub-orbital mission launched on a Redstone rocket, disaster struck as the crew hatch explosive bolts accidentally ignited, blowing the hatch off the spacecraft and allowing seawater to flood the spacecraft. Despite heroic efforts, the recovery team could not save the ship and it sank to the Atlantic seafloor. Just barely escaping the capsule, Grissom's suit began to fill with water as well but he was successfully hoisted into the hovering helicopter. At first blamed for a possible pilot error by some in the press, Grissom was cleared by an investigation. As commander of the first manned flight of the Gemini program, Grissom and Young decided to name the craft after the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, a flamboyant and popular rich American woman who was one of the survivors of the Titanic sinking in 1912. 

Molly Brown.

Evidently the name was intended to be "good luck" and an assurance that THIS spacecraft was not about to be lost under Grissom's command.

Commemorative medallion, front and back, and carried aboard the flight.

Interestingly, the design was not made as a patch at first. No mission patch was worn by the crew, as would be made popular in later flights. The design was made into several medallions that were taken on the flight and later given to family members of the astronauts. After the flight, a patch design was created to go along with other Gemini mission patches.

 Finalized mission patch.

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