Friday, November 5, 2010

Awkward Crew Portraits: Gemini 3, 1965


"SHUT THE HELL UP with the tin man jokes, assholes." From left, Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom and John Young, Gemini 3 crew.

I have a minor obsession with mission portraits from the Gemini and Apollo missions.

Some of the pictures really show the congeniality and teamwork within the crews, while some of the pictures just highlight awkwardness and general craziness-in-space-to-come. This picture of 1965's Gemini 3 crew - Gus Grissom (of Mercury 7 fame, and eventually of the ill-fated Apollo 1) and then-rookie John Young - is one of the latter types of mission portraits.

Look at these two legendary mofos. Gus Grissom, unsurprisingly, looks like a fighter pilot jock that I wouldn't ever mess with. He's the kind of guy who probably would have really put you in your place quickly if you screwed up and talked shit about how badass you were. Somehow he raises a (fake) smile in this picture, even though he'd rather be smoking Parliaments and chilling with Deke Slayton and some hot 1960s babes rather than wearing tin foil standing in front of some damn rookie.

John Young clearly provides the comedic touch in this lovingly depicted photo. He's not even vaguely gazing at the camera, and he looks like he's utterly constipated and confused. I have no idea if he even knows where the camera is. He was a Naval officer which kind of explains why he was probably an odd guy.

John looks like he'd find playing with a slide rule and an engineering calculus textbook absolutely thrilling. Gus doesn't look too thrilled about having him in the picture..."Why the hell did you put me with a damn rookie???? He's not even an astronaut, he's never been into space!!! Goddammit bubba!!! Get me Deke!!!!" I can imagine it now.
Gus and Deke probably invited John out for cocktails once to "break the ice," and John was all like, "Guys...what's a cocktail? I want my teddy bear" etc.

My guess is that they patched things up by the time Gemini 3 was launched into orbit. They even entered the history books by bringing an unauthorized corned beef sandwich into space. This is a very true and hilarious story, but I'll save that for another time.