Big Gemini spacecraft concept, August, 1969. (NASA)
Big Gemini (or "Big G") was proposed to NASA by McDonnell Douglas in August, 1969, as an advanced version of the Gemini spacecraft system. It was intended to provide large-capacity, all-purpose access to space, including missions that ultimately used Apollo or the Space Shuttle.
The study was performed to generate a preliminary definition of a logistic spacecraft derived from Gemini that would be used to resupply an orbiting space station. Land-landing at a preselected site and refurbishment and reuse were design requirements. Two baseline spacecraft were defined: a nine-man minimum modification version of the Gemini B called Min-Mod Big G and a 12-man advanced concept, having the same exterior geometry but with new, state_of_the_art subsystems, called Advanced Big G. Three launch vehicles_Saturn IB, Titan IIIM, and S_IC/S_ IVB_were investigated for use with the spacecraft. The Saturn IB was discarded late in the study.
The spacecraft consisted of a crew module designed by extending the Gemini B exterior cone to a 419_cm_diameter heat shield and a cargo propulsion module. Recovery of the crew module would be effected by means of a gliding parachute (parawing). The parametric analyses and point design of the parawing were accomplished by Northrop_ Ventura Company under a subcontract, and the contents of their final report were incorporated into the document. The landing attenuation of the spacecraft would be accomplished by a skid landing gear extended from the bottom of the crew module, allowing the crew to land in an upright position. The propulsion functions of transfer, rendezvous, attitude control, and retrograde would be performed by a single liquid propellant system, and launch escape would be provided by a large Apollo-type launch escape system.
In addition to the design analyses, operational support analyses and a program development plan were prepared.
- Crew Size: 9 to 12
- Length: 11.5 m.
- Maximum Diameter: 4.27 m.
- Habitable Volume: 18.7 m³
- Mass: 15,590 kg
- Payload: 2,500 kg
- Launch Vehicles: Titan 3M, Saturn IB, Saturn S-IC/S-IVB.