Gemini IV Memories at Carnarvon

4 – 8 June 1965 AEST



From Carnarvon CAPCOM, Ed Fendell –

 


Carnarvon

Ed Fendell (seated, third from right) with his Gemini 4 Flight Control team at Carnarvon.

Photo: Hamish Lindsay. Photo with names.



It brings back some great memories. Gemini IV was my first trip to CRO and it was following a real disaster that had occurred there on Gemini III as to who was the Capcom.

Carnarvon was an unbelievable place in those days. I carried with me to the site, unknown to anyone, including my own team, a secret flight plan called Flight Plan X that I and several others had worked on in secret back in Houston. It was the Flight plan for our first EVA, which we than used on that mission. Over CRO I gave the crew the go to commence with the EVA and for Ed White to exit the spacecraft. Very exciting. The Capcom job was the best job I ever had in my life, and the memories that went with it stay with me to this day.

 

From Senior Telemetry Engineer Paul Dench –


Carnarvon

Supervising Engineer Paul Dench (right) talks with Mr Sam Miller, Head of the Radio Construction Company team installing the 9 metre USB antenna. Photo: Hamish Lindsay.


I remember Gemini 4 particularly well. CRO control room management for G3 had been a torture for me with the conflict between Conrad and Hunter as Cap Com but fortunately, Ed Fendell came to Gemini 4 with a clear job on the console – and didn’t he drive us hard with intensive drills!

The mission itself went smoothly from the ground perspective, but my job was to keep the control consoles as sharp as possible, double checking all events – Fendell was making sure there would be no possible doubts in data. I was the Senior Telemetry [Engineer] responsible guaranteeing smooth delivery of all that data. Nervous I was with all that data to hand after the disputes for Gemini 3.

It was almost a relief when I headed up for training of the Apollo phase.

 

From PMG Senior Technician, John Lambie –

 

Carnarvon

John Lambie in the control room, at the Gemini Capcom position.
Photo: John Lambie.



I remember it well as I was there on site at Carnarvon in 1965.

Karin, my girlfriend at the time, drove me out to the station on Browns Range and then had my MG Magnette for 7 days which was the duration of the mission. Each work day was long, up to about 16 hours, and meals were served in the crew room every 4 hours.

When stood down I was bussed home for 8 hours sleep, then picked up and returned to the tracking station. My main duties were to be on standby in the event of any ground communications malfunction (teletype machines, and VFT links and SCAMA [voice signalling, conference, and monitoring arrangment].

First duties on the station picking up the count was to perform a Detailed System Test (DST108) on the Teletype systems. A scripted set of test parameters to exercise the machine performance. Thereafter on the hour a brief system test (BST108) was performed.

The station and staff was at full attention for about 15 minutes every 90 minutes when the spacecraft was acquired and being tracked. The teletype circuits fairly hummed at that time, as pointing data inwards was forwarded to the Digital Command System (DCS), and radar data from FPQ6 was outward bound at 66 words per minute.

There were periods of boredom for me and a some of the time was spent reading Scientific American magazines, listening to the SCAMA dialogue, or resetting the paper on the Gemini and Agena Consoles when flight controllers aggressively tore off the page causing the printed page to jump the sprockets. (A problem that was common at all sites, and which I fixed locally with an unofficial modification to the typing unit).

During the idle times the station staff were relaxed, and a few would gather around the 1218 Univac computer and partake of fine coffee, crumpets and maple syrup, courtesy of Pete Petersen, Univac Engineer.

 

Carnarvon

John took his girlfriend Karin, later his wife, to celebrate the success of GT-4, on the evening of splashdown, 8th June 1965.