Date: ca. 1964-1965
Country of Origin: United States of America
Length, 10 inches; diameter, 2.5 inches; width, 4 inches
Chamber, mainly stainless steel; nozzle insert, phenolic. Interior of nozzle likely contains ceramic insert at top of nozzle and asbestos wrap and glass wrap as liners close to metallic walls of chamber; red rubber protective nozzle cover, with six-sided clear plastic dessicant container mounted on protective cover and adjacent white adhesive paper sticker; two yellow plastic protective caps over end of two of smaller pipes leading from propellant outlets, and two other smaller pipes with sky blue plastic protective caps.
This is a 25 pound thrust RCS (Re-entry Control System) rocket motor, or thruster, for the manned Gemini spacecraft. RCS thrusters controlled the spacecraft's attitude (roll, pitch, and yaw). They were fixed thrust, cold nitrogen gas pressurized, self-contained propulsion systems using storable, hypergolic (self-igniting) propellants of nitrogen tetroxide and monomethyl hydrazine and therefore did not need an ignition system.
On 24 February 1962, the primary contractor for the Gemini spacecraft, the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, awarded a subcontract to North American Aviation Company's Rocketdyne Division for the two liquid propulsion systems for the spacecraft. One was the RCS while the other was the orbit and attitude maneuvering system (OAMS) which controlled the movement of the craft. RCS thrusters were very similar in appearance and power to the 25-pound thrust OAMS units and were located forward of the crew compartment in an independent module. The RCS consisted of a pair of completely independent systems, each having eight 25-pound thrusters fired in groups. The RCS performed up to expectations in all the manned Gemini flights from Gemini III in March 1965 up to the final Gemini flight, Gemini XII in November 1966.
Gift of McDonnell Douglas Corporation