Fuel Cell, Gemini

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Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

This fuel cell is a test version of the electric-power generating device used on the two-astronaut Gemini spacecraft during seven missions in 1965-66. It was run for over 1000 hours to demonstrate long-duration functioning. A fuel cell is like a battery, in that it uses a chemical reaction to create an electrical current. Unlike a battery, a fuel cell will continue to generate a current as long as the reactants are supplied. The Gemini fuel cell used liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to generate electricity, with water as a byproduct. Oxygen and hydrogen molecules reacted and combined across a "proton exchange membrane," a thin permeable polymer sheet coated with a platinum catalyst.

The Gemini program pioneered the use of fuel cells in space, and a similar technology was subsequently used in the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. General Electric, the manufacturer, gave this artifact to the Smithsonian.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Credit Line

Gift of General Electric Company

Materials

Stainless steel, other metals

Dimensions

Overall: 47 x 37.5 x 63.5cm (18 1/2 x 14 3/4 x 25 in.)

Country of Origin

United States of America

Type

SPACECRAFT-Manned-Electrical Power

Inventory Number

A19660646000