Preliminary Proposal: A Multimedia Project Gemini Portal

For decades, the work of NASA has captured the imagination of the American public and the world, sending humans to the moon and unmanned craft even farther.

NASA, via Wikimedia Commons

NASA’s work is documented rich in eye-catching images, videos, as well as lots of primary source documents that are freely available on the Internet — and are public domain.

That’s all great, but this documented history is strewn across NASA’s websites and elsewhere around the Web — hardly an easy way to explore the archive.

In this digital project, I hope to use WordPress or Drupal to create a multimedia portal for Project Gemini, which lasted from 1965 to 1966.

Gemini capsules accommodated two astronauts and the Titan II rocket was used (the Titan was actually developed as an intercontinental ballistic missile). A total of 10 manned flights were flown. Despite some flaws (including a capsule that spun out of control that Neil Armstrong commanded), the program was deemed successful and paved the way for Project Apollo, which sent astronauts to the moon.

NASA’s official website for Project Gemini is clearly stuck in the 1990s and, simply put, is garbage. Something must be done.

Using my Delicious site, I have curated a number of links to sources I would like to incorporate into this website. Additional content can be found on YouTube and other websites.

I plan to create a page for each of the 10 Gemini missions, and possibly an additional page to talk about the test flights. Each page will include links (or even embed) the relevant images, videos and primary source documents. The pages will all include a 1-2 paragraph introduction to the mission, and could possibly list the vital information (dates, crew, etc.). The homepage, I think, should be more of a splash design, with each mission’s patch displayed. Clicking on said patch would send the user to that mission’s page. A short introduction to the site will also be included on the homepage.

Gemini 7. (NASA, via Wikimedia Commons)

This project will make accessible historical information that is difficult to find over the vast sprawl of the Internet. NASA’s work interests many people, and I feel this site would do a service to the general public by making this information easier for the public to find. Perhaps it could even be used as a teaching tool in classes.

What do you think? Do you think this idea makes sense? Do you have any specific suggestions for me? Please share your thoughts in the comments. I look forward to hearing from the class.

5 Replies to “Preliminary Proposal: A Multimedia Project Gemini Portal”

  1. I think this is a fantastic idea. I, for one, lament that federal funding for NASA has steadily declined over recent decades. Given the publicity surrounding American teenagers' poor performances in math and science compared to kids in other industrialized countries (see… I think that bolstering our flagging space program would be an effective way to make these subjects seem cool to youth.

    Your creating an easy-to-use, professional-looking website about underappreciated NASA missions could stimulate public interest in NASA and hopefully inspire some kids to become astronauts!

    1. I think this is a fascinating study and a great idea. Have you given any thoughts to audio and/or video additions to your site? Looking at stills and doc is great. Its no secret that I believe in maximum capabilities for a web site. Video and audio of the first Gemini mission – preparations or event launch sequence – would be different and hook those interested in the Gemini program or NASA in general to explore your site and read further. Just a thought.

  2. I think you have a really neat idea here. You have identified some great content and I think you have a good idea for how your project will be different than others on the topic. I'm also glad to see that you have already thought about the rights issues.

    I would like to push you a bit more on your ideas about audience. You refer to "the general public" as the audience, and that is a good start, but I would be interested to get more information about some of the specific kinds of people you think would visit your site, why those kinds of people would visit your site, and what you think your site would do for them.

    The first chapter of the Brown book, Communicating Design, has some great was for developing personas as a basis for the design of websites and if you want to jump ahead in the reading and check it out I think it could be valuable. There is a way this kind of site could serve as a hub for NASA enthusiasts, it could serve needs of teachers and k-12 students, and all kinds of different folks. In any case, in my experience getting the ideas about audience together up front are invaluable at informing the rest of the design process.

    Glad to hear you already have ideas for the platform you might use. WordPress and Drupal are great options. You might also consider Omeka as it is designed specifically for running web exhibits. You might get some more cool ideas for features if you check out the Omeka showcase page.

    This is really great work and a great start!

    1. Thanks, Trevor! I'll definitely check out Communicating Design, and also look into using Omeka for this project as well.

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