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Image credit: NASA

On Jan. 3, 1962, the newly announced Mercury Mark II project was renamed Project Gemini. This artist's concept of a two-person Gemini spacecraft in flight shows a cutaway view. Gemini paved the way for Apollo, and had four main goals: to test an astronaut's ability to fly long-duration missions (up to two weeks in space); to understand how spacecraft could rendezvous and dock in orbit around the Earth and the Moon; to perfect re-entry and landing methods; and to further understand the effects of longer space flights on astronauts.

Just as Orion and the International Space Station are helping NASA learn how to go to Mars, the Gemini program defined and tested the skills NASA would need to go to the Moon in the 1960s and 1970s.

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