Toward Gemini And Apollo

Concurrent plans and objectives for space exploration brought the life sciences into an increasingly important role as the Mercury space Task Group prepared for the next operational step. The long-range obligations of space exploration enunciated by the President meant that not only must Mercury be successfully completed but Gemini and Apollo now must be planned for.

All was not well, however, in the minds of the Nation's life scientists, despite the obvious success of the two U.S. suborbital flights and the U.S.S.R. orbital flight. The international scientific community had become increasingly concerned about reports—unverified at first, and then confirmed—that Titov had suffered motion sickness while in orbit. Did this mean that there were hazards of weightlessness or of combined stresses that should be investigated before further plans were made to orbit a U.S. man in space? The matter was of grave concern to the U.S. life scientists, aware that their first projected orbital flight was but a few months away.

Also still unresolved was the total complex of problems that had bothered the life scientists since 1958 when Project Mercury was established. As Dr. White had reported, early work had been undertaken to extend man's tolerance to the biomedica1 rigors calculated to be inherent in the early flights.13 Although technology would sustain life-support systems, there still remain serious problems about man's ability to meet the individual stresses which could not be reproduced on the ground (weightlessness and radiation) and the effect of the stresses on the body systems. The latter was complicated by the lack of knowledge of the impact of increasing time exposure. According to White:

Now, on the eve of the first U.S. manned orbital flight, these questions of man's survivability in the light of these combined stresses were still unanswered.

13.  See ch. VIII, note 3.

14.  Ibid.

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