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  Playing Deke for a day: alternate crew selections (Page 5)

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Author Topic:   Playing Deke for a day: alternate crew selections
cddfspace
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posted 07-15-2010 05:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cddfspace   Click Here to Email cddfspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Okay, one more twist... Deke gets clearance under same timeline. Shepard does not. He gets cleared in 1970 or 1971.

Who commands Apollo 13? Cooper? McDivitt? (assuming Lovell sticks with Apollo 14).

Shepard comes back - does he replace Brand on ASTP?

Delta7
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posted 07-19-2010 07:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another hypothetical to keep the pointless but fun speculation going:

What if Al Shepard had the operation to cure his Meniere's earlier, and, say, was returned to flight status in early 1967? Would Deke have assigned him to command the first lunar landing (as he had originally planned for Grissom)?

Shepard would basically have had at least 2 years to train. The early command slots were already taken (Schirra/McDivitt/Borman/Stafford/Conrad.) And I'm pretty sure he would have set his sights on it.

I think there would have been a very good chance that Deke would have told Al the mission was his, and would have put together and announced the whole crew at the appropriate time.

Shepard/Collins/Anders assigned to Apollo 11 after Apollo 8? (Armstrong/Aldrin/Haise assigned to Apollo 12; Conrad/Gordon/Bean to Apollo 13; and so on ...).

Delta7
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posted 07-19-2010 07:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by cddfspace:
Who commands Apollo 13? Cooper? McDivitt? (assuming Lovell sticks with Apollo 14).
It seems Deke had made up his mind to replace Cooper even before Shepard became available. He did have discussions with McDivitt about the assignment. He might have also been able to talk Tom Stafford into taking it, or move John Young up to the prime slot (with Gene Cernan as backup? Then Lovell backed up by Anders for Apollo 14?).

calcheyup
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posted 08-02-2014 12:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by WAWalsh [in 2004]:
The only obvious crew selection that requires scrutiny is Apollo 14. Yanking Gordo out of the flight rotation and jumping Alan Shepard back to the front of the line is inconsistent with all prior crew selections.
While I can agree that naming Shepard CDR of Apollo 14 would be "inconsistent," Shepard didn't bump Cooper. Going by rotation, Cooper would have been in line to be CDR of Apollo 13, not 14, but by all accounts (except for Cooper's) he never was in serious consideration to command 13 anyway. So while yes, granted, Shepard did step right to the front of the line, he certainly didn't steal Cooper's mission from him. That's just revisionist history.

Further to that argument, can anyone really say that Shepard "bumped" anyone who should have been in that CDR seat? He paid his dues more than enough to earn a shot to command a lunar mission. Going down the list:

  • Schirra - Retired after 7.
  • Eisele - was never in consideration.
  • Borman - by Chaikin`s account, had 11 offered to him, but did not want it.
  • Lovell - CDR of 13. Got his lunar mission.
  • McDivitt - Despite rumors that he refused to crew with Shepard, moved on to an office gig after 9.
  • Scott - Got his lunar mission on 15.
  • Stafford - Flew on 10 and certainly would have been given a CDR seat on a lunar landing mission if he had wanted it.
  • Cernan - CDR of 17.
  • Young - CDR of 16.
So who, exactly, actually WANTED a lunar mission in the CDR seat, "deserved" it more than America's first in space, and didn't get it on account of Shepard pulling rank and jumping to the front of the line? I'm not seeing it. The way the story gets retold it's as if he blocked someone like John Young or Dave Scott from going to the moon or something. As a matter of fact they actually ended up with better missions than he did.

Don't get it.

On edit: And, as has been mentioned here, Shepard had nothing to prove to anyone serving as a backup, and no matter what his name was, he wasn't getting a CDR seat on a lunar mission if everyone — not just his buddy Deke - at NASA wasn't fully convinced he'd fly a good mission. And he did. So really that puts that argument to bed. 14 may not have been a perfect mission, but it was a good one and more importantly, put the program back on track and gave NASA three more shots at the moon.

And, for what it's worth, the way Shepard and Mitchell's performance is sometimes discussed, it's as if they never even sniffed Cone or sampled any areas of value. When the exact opposite is true. They couldn't have got a lot closer without falling into the damn thing.

moorouge
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posted 08-02-2014 12:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A belated tuppence worth. Would crew selections have been any different had the Russians got there first?

RichieB16
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posted 08-02-2014 06:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RichieB16   Click Here to Email RichieB16     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by calcheyup:
So who, exactly, actually WANTED a lunar mission in the CDR seat, "deserved" it more than America's first in space, and didn't get it on account of Shepard pulling rank and jumping to the front of the line?
I don't think the issue was so much that he got a lunar command, it was that he was immediately put to the head of the rotation.

You are right, he had nothing to prove to management by serving on a backup crew, but he did have something to prove to the other astronauts. He should have been given a backup CDR roll and then later commanded a missing. History would have worked out the same with probably the exact same people walking on the moon, just in a different order.

moorouge
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posted 08-02-2014 07:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
Would crew selections have been any different had the Russians got there first?
Referencing my previous post...

Armstrong was a civilian and there were suggestions at the time that his selection as commander for the first moon landing owed more to his status as such with NASA wishing to emphasise the civilian nature of the Apollo programme. If the Russians had got there first this requirement might not be such a consideration and would have opened the door for a more qualified crew.

calcheyup
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posted 08-02-2014 09:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by RichieB16:
I don't think the issue was so much that he got a lunar command, it was that he was immediately put to the head of the rotation.
I know exactly what the issue is, and it's certainly a fair point, but at the same time Shepard's command of 14 is frequently discussed as if he actually prevented someone more deserving from commanding a lunar mission.
quote:
You are right, he had nothing to prove to management by serving on a backup crew, but he did have something to prove to the other astronauts. He should have been given a backup CDR roll and then later commanded a missing. History would have worked out the same with probably the exact same people walking on the moon, just in a different order.
That's a fair viewpoint.

As for proving it to his colleagues, he had up having no problem doing that on 14.

I guess because he didn't fly for 10 years apparently made everyone forget that, in NASA's mind, this guy was the best pilot they had. Better than Grissom. Better than Schirra (whose praises are sung on high in every thread here, deservingly so). Better than Cooper. Better than anyone in the second group that wasn't chosen as part of the 7. So why it would be a surprise to anyone that Shepard would fly a good mission is sort of baffling to me.

alanh_7
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posted 08-02-2014 09:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think the issue is whether Shepard deserved a lunar mission. I think the issue is that Shepard was off flight status so long and then rotated right into a prime crew without doing his stint as a backup.

Was politics at play there? Of course there was. Did any other crew fly without being a backup first with the possible exception of Apollo 8? No. But with missions being canceled, had Shepard been assigned a backup flight first and then rotated in to a prime mission he likely would not have ever flown.

calcheyup
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posted 08-02-2014 09:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No other crew included the first American in space.

Shepard absolutely did use his position and influence to strongarm to the front of the line. But even had Al Shepard not been Al Shepard (with regards to his personality), I have a hard time believing NASA would have made their first astronaut (regardless of whether it was Shepard) begin at the back of the line and possibly miss a lunar command altogether with missions being cancelled.

I guess it doesn't really matter now anyhow. As I've said, everyone who earned and wanted to command a lunar landing got one (with the exception of maybe Dick Gordon, but Shepard had nothing to do with that), and 14 flew a fine mission.

capoetc
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posted 08-02-2014 10:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by calcheyup:
While I can agree that naming Shepard CDR of Apollo 14 would be "inconsistent," Shepard didn't bump Cooper. Going by rotation, Cooper would have been in line to be CDR of Apollo 13, not 14...
I don't think anyone would reasonably argue that Shepard wasn't capable of flying a good lunar mission as CDR. However, there is solid evidence that NASA management did not feel that he had enough time to adequately train to command a mission in time.

Why? Because Deke named Shepard as CDR of Apollo 13, not 14. And NASA HQ said "no" because they did not believe (and rightly so) that he would have enough time to train for the mission.

Realistically, what probably should have happened is Shepard should have been backup CDR on 13, then rotate to prime crew on 16. That was one of the big reasons to have backup crews in the first place: the backup crew got some priority in the sims, which allowed them to train for a future mission (or to take over if needed).

Presumably, Lovell would have remained (with Haise and Mattingly) on Apollo 14 ... or, depending upon who else would be in the pipeline, Lovell's crew still might have moved up to prime on 13 and a different crew selected for 14.

There are simply too many moving parts to be able to work out how the dominoes would have fallen if Shepard had not stepped in when he did. But, if Shepard had been backup on 13, he would have gone to the moon with a rover on 16 and spent a lot more time there. Shepard got preferential treatment because he had the political clout to do so, and he used it. Plain and simple.

Interestingly, if Shepard had not been prime on 14, then Gene Cernan may have been the odd man out in the rotation. Cernan may well have not gotten the backup CDR slot on 14 if Shepard were not the prime crew CDR. And without the backup assignment on 14, he would have had no chance to command 17 (which perhaps would have been commanded by Dick Gordon?). Of course, in that course of events, Cernan likely would have accepted the LMP slot on Apollo 16 (would this have even been offered absent the Apollo 14 backup CDR slot?). Who knows?

Too many moving parts.

calcheyup
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posted 08-02-2014 10:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by capoetc:
However, there is solid evidence that NASA management did not feel that he had enough time to adequately train to command a mission in time.
I'm aware of this, absolutely, and by no means was I trying to imply that Shepard could just step right in and train for a couple months and then drill it. The decision to move him back to 14 was certainly the right one.

I'm just saying that any doubts and skepticism from anyone - that a pilot of Al Shepard's caliber, given appropriate time to familiarize himself with the spacecraft and train, couldn't command a good lunar mission is just hogwash.

quote:
Realistically, what probably should have happened is Shepard should have been backup CDR on 13, then rotate to prime crew on 16.
I don't think NASA would have put Shepard a heartbeat away from command of 13 if they clearly didn't think he'd be ready for it. And if he backed up 14, now he's in the danger zone of missing a lunar mission altogether.

Although, at that point, if push came to shove and they had one mission left before program cancellation and Shepard hadn't flown, you'd better believe he would have been on that spacecraft.

capoetc
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posted 08-02-2014 01:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I really don't understand why you keep talking about speculation that Shepard couldn't handle a lunar mission. I've never heard of anyone saying anything like that. I'm not trying to be argumentative, I've just never heard that criticism.

It was all about using his political power to cut the line -- he was stepping on others' toes, he knew it, and quite frankly he just didn't care. Good for him, it was a game of hardball and he played the game better than anyone.

And there really is no reason why you wouldn't put Shepard "a heartbeat away" from the command on Apollo 13 -- if the need arose, then they would make the decision as to whether to elevate Shepard, elevate Shepard and slip the mission, or just slip the mission until Lovell was ready.

Do you think that, if Stafford had broken his arm a week before Apollo 10 NASA would have given Cooper command of Apollo 10? I don't. Interesting to think of what they would do ... my guess is they either would slip the mission or swap the 11 and 10 crews (more likely -- they really wanted to land on the moon by Dec 1969, and wanted enough time for at least 2 tries if possible). Now that I think of it ... if Stafford had gotten injured or worse prior to Apollo 10, with the known concerns that NASA HQ had about Cooper's readiness to step in, it might have really thrown a wrench into the works!

Finally, I really don't think Shepard could have realistically cut the line on 17. By that point, with the cancelled downline missions, and with re-cycled backup crews being used ... and with Gordon coming off the backup assignment on 15, I just don't think the opportunity would have been there. Shepard was able to make a play for 13 because the crew had not yet been announced (presumably at least in part because the expectation on the part of some was that Cooper's crew would take it, so NASA may have been reviewing how to go about announcing a different crew -- or who to send -- without making it appear to be a slap in the face for Cooper).

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-02-2014 02:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Shepard might also have been given 13 because Deke wasn't sure how many more flights there would be.

As for Stafford breaking his arm, I think Cooper flies on 10. The flight can't be pushed back two months. Swapping crews with 11 so close to the launch isn't likely with the different mission profiles.

calcheyup
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posted 08-02-2014 03:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by capoetc:
I really don't understand why you keep talking about speculation that Shepard couldn't handle a lunar mission. I've never heard of anyone saying anything like that. I'm not trying to be argumentative, I've just never heard that criticism.
You need look no further than this very topic to find comments stating that Shepard somehow had "something to prove" to his fellow astronauts when he got 14. That's the point I'm addressing.

And really, why even bother having a backup crew if you would never use the backup? Having someone that can step into the role for a mission is more important than getting a guy you have no intention of using some sim time. Do you really think NASA says "Hey Deke, if anything goes sour for Lovell you can't use him, and you won't have a replacement and the mission will be pushed,but name Shepard backup CDR so he can get into the rotation and get experience for a command later on"? To me that seems absolutely ridiculous!

And I think Cooper flies too, and based on his previous missions' performance, it's hardly out of the question that he does his job capably.

capoetc
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posted 08-02-2014 04:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree that Cooper would have done a fine job. The question is, did NASA HQ think so at the time?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-02-2014 04:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by calcheyup:
You need look no further than this very topic to find comments stating that Shepard somehow had "something to prove" to his fellow astronauts when he got 14.
A number of those comments date back a decade to 2004. It has been my impression that general attitudes toward Shepard (and other topics) have changed in the intervening years, in part due to continued discussion, and part due to the expanded references that have become available.

calcheyup
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posted 08-02-2014 05:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The one I was responding to specifically was posted today.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-02-2014 05:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Your first post to this thread, which began the current discussion about Shepard, was to a message posted in 2004.

calcheyup
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posted 08-02-2014 05:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's not exceptionally pertinent to the particular point we are discussing though, Robert. The discussion about Shepard having something to prove, and me saying why he did not, began in response to a post that was made today. Not one from 2004. And all I did when asked why I was discussing Shepard's capability to command a lunar mission was reference a post that was made mere hours ago.

So I'm not really sure were you are going with this.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-02-2014 05:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I guess we are reading the more recent replies to this thread differently. I don't see anyone suggesting in response to you that Shepard had something to prove.

Whereas 10 years ago, there was a segment of the community that openly questioned Shepard's command abilities, that view has diminished over the past decade. I think most agree today that he was a more than capable commander.

But there's a difference between being a capable commander and the process by which commands were decided. Someone could be more than capable and still be inappropriate for the assignment for a variety of reasons.

calcheyup
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posted 08-02-2014 05:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, I appreciate the clarification. For what it's worth, the post from RichieB16 in this thread responding to me, and his comment about him having "something to prove" to the other astronauts, is the reason I got into that discussion.

calcheyup
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posted 08-02-2014 05:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by capoetc:
I agree that Cooper would have done a fine job. The question is, did NASA HQ think so at the time?
They were probably pretty leery about it, but it wouldn't have been the first time management had serious questions about Cooper only to have him fly a great mission. Gordo's in-mission performance was never the problem.

Plus, having no other option probably wouldn't have hurt his chances either.

Michael Cassutt
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posted 08-02-2014 06:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Cassutt   Click Here to Email Michael Cassutt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by capoetc:
The question is, did NASA HQ think so at the time?
NASA HQ would have been fine with Cooper on 13. It was Deke who was probably the most concerned about Gordo, and that had as much to do with ten years of Gordo antics as anything specifically related to his work on Apollo 10 -- which even Stafford says was acceptable.

What I am finding amusing are the statements here that Shepard was so unbelievably capable that he had some moral right to jump the line. There were half a dozen astronauts in the program in 1969 who were better qualified to command a lunar landing and whose flying skills, program management accomplishments and pure test pilot experience were superior to Shepard's: Borman, McDivitt, Conrad, Armstrong, Stafford and Young. And several of these (and not just these) were highly critical of Slayton's original assignment of Shepard as A13 commander.

Michael Cassutt
Co-author of DEKE! and WE HAVE CAPTURE

calcheyup
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posted 08-02-2014 08:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A couple things to point out here.
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Cassutt:
What I am finding amusing are the statements here that Shepard was so unbelievably capable that he had some moral right to jump the line.
I find it equally amusing that what you just wrote is what you think anyone is saying. If you want to discuss this, then by all means, let's do it, but let's not put artificial words or implications in anyone's mouth.

To wit: although I personally don't think it was as big of a deal as it was made out to be, nobody here is arguing Shepard was just SO GOOD that he got to jump the line. Shepard, while a first-rate pilot, jumped the line because he was America's first in space and had connections with people who mattered at NASA. His ability to do the job is a conversation that came about independently from the merits of how he got a command in the first place. You've mashed these points together, in improper order I might add, to create an argument that doesn't exist.

As a matter of fact, I do understand and respect the viewpoint that Shepard shouldn't have "cut the line." I don't necessarily agree with it completely, but nor do I think Shepard had a "moral right" due to his flight experience to do what he did and have never stated as such. The fact is Shepard DID do it, and everything that happened afterwards and because of it is what we are discussing here.

Hopefully I've clarified that.

quote:
There were half a dozen astronauts in the program in 1969 who were better qualified to command a lunar landing and whose flying skills, program management accomplishments and pure test pilot experience were superior to Shepard's: Borman, McDivitt, Conrad, Armstrong, Stafford and Young.
This has already been addressed.
  • Borman: didn't want a lunar mission or he could have had 11.
  • McDivitt: went to the office after 9.
  • Conrad and Armstrong: Landed on the moon before Shepard so why they are even in the conversation right now is completely befuddling.
  • Young: Got his own (better, I might add) lunar mission.
  • Stafford: Certainly would have been given command of his own lunar landing mission had he wanted it. EDIT: Cut out the part about the LM incident on 10. No need to go there.
So to summarize my feelings on the matter, since Shepard didn't bump anyone that deserved a lunar command, and flew a good mission, the fact that he staged a power play to get his foot in really doesn't bother me as much as it does a lot of people. But that does not equate to "Al Shepard had a moral right to cut the line because he was the greatest pilot who ever lived."

capoetc
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posted 08-02-2014 09:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Michael Cassutt: I was hoping you would chime in since no one would be in a better position to answer at this point (other than Tom Stafford) than you.

Michael Cassutt
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posted 08-02-2014 10:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Cassutt   Click Here to Email Michael Cassutt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, but I am already reminded of why I didn't bother with this thread the first decade.

Michael Cassutt
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posted 08-02-2014 10:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Cassutt   Click Here to Email Michael Cassutt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I read this:
quote:
Originally posted by calcheyup:
I guess because he didn't fly for 10 years apparently made everyone forget that, in NASA's mind, this guy was the best pilot they had. Better than Grissom. Better than Schirra (whose praises are sung on high in every thread here, deservingly so). Better than Cooper. Better than anyone in the second group that wasn't chosen as part of the 7. So why it would be a surprise to anyone that Shepard would fly a good mission is sort of baffling to me.
The rest sort of followed. Perhaps my reading comprehension isn't what it was. Or perhaps there's another explanation.

In any case, as I've said on similar threads... this is Fantasy Baseball, where one opinion is as good as another. Or so it seems.

Michael Cassutt
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posted 08-02-2014 10:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Cassutt   Click Here to Email Michael Cassutt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One minor note of relevance: one of the reasons McDivitt went to an administrative job was his anger at Shepard's insertion into a prime Apollo command. Yes, McDivitt was worn down by three years of Apollo training... but this was definitely a factor.

calcheyup
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posted 08-02-2014 10:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for responding Michael.

quote:
Originally posted by Michael Cassutt:
Perhaps my reading comprehension isn't what it was. Or perhaps there's another explanation.
I see. Allow me to explain. That comment had nothing to do with Al Shepard "deserving" to cut in line. This was pertaining to the notion that after Shepard cut in line, that anyone in the astronaut corps or NASA was doubtful that he could do the job.

Specifically, I was referencing the comment that after Shepard's selection to command a lunar mission, that he had "something to prove" to the other astronauts, and the implication that it was surprising Shepard flew as good a mission as he did. Which is where I diverge from the script completely; to me, no matter how much one may dislike his personality, it's outlandish to think that a pilot and astronaut of Alan Shepard's caliber couldn't, given familiarity and training with the Apollo spacecraft, command a successful lunar mission (and he did). And my point sort of with that comment was that Shepard was not some also-ran that showed up off the streets; this guy was a top of the line pilot and astronaut. So no matter what you think of how he got command of a lunar mission, the guy was among the best of the best and had nothing to further prove to anyone in my opinion before commanding an Apollo flight.

As for Shepard's assignment partially leading to McDivitt taking an office job, I will take your word for it. But let's be honest here — if Jim McDivitt really wanted to walk on the moon, there's no way he was going to let Al Shepard being named CDR of 14 stop him.

I hope this sorts out my views on this matter a little bit.

Delta7
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posted 08-03-2014 08:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I recall reading somewhere that Slayton and McDivitt discussed McDivitt commanding Apollo 13; and that McDivitt said if he did do it he wanted Rusty Schweikart as his LMP. I presume this was before Apollo 9 flew and Schweikart's bout with nausea, and when the plan was to pair Schweikart with Dave Scott as a lunar landing crew. And before Shepard became available. That's when the discussion changed to McDivitt serving as Shepard's LMP and McDivitt said no thanks.

Headshot
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posted 08-03-2014 10:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a variation to consider for all our Dekes.

Apollos 15 and 19 have not been cancelled and Mike Collins has accepted command of the J-2 Apollo 17. What would you do about Gene Cernan? Remember that he turned down the LMP slot on John Young's upcoming J-1 Apollo 16 mission.

What are your thoughts Dekes?

calcheyup
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posted 08-03-2014 10:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Delta7:
And before Shepard became available. That's when the discussion changed to McDivitt serving as Shepard's LMP and McDivitt said no thanks.
Do you have a source for this? I've heard this story before but have also heard it was nothing more than a rumor. I have a very difficult time believing Deke and NASA would slap McDivitt in the face like that instead of offering him a lunar command on another mission. But hey, I've been wrong before.

Just wondering on whose authority this story has been validated is all.

Tom
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posted 08-03-2014 11:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The last couple of entries had me thinking. Since this thread consists of "what ifs"...what if McDivitt accepted command of Apollo 13, and Lovell is already assigned as CDR on "14".

Does Shepard coming back on flight rotation bump Lovell back to a later flight, or does this force Deke to assign Shepard to a backup crew first?

calcheyup
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posted 08-03-2014 12:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think Deke may have had open mutiny on his hands if he bumped Lovell in favor of Shepard. Shepard's timing really was impeccable with the "void" of 13.

David C
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posted 08-03-2014 01:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Serving military officers mutiny, over an issue like that, really? I must avoid this thread.

calcheyup
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posted 08-03-2014 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It was an obvious exaggeration. The point is there would have been a lot of unhappy astronauts had that happened. Calm down.

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-04-2014 06:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hmm...we still have 15 and 19, CDRs through 17 have been set. More curveballs!

Possibilities — Shepard backs up 16 and commands 19, which would end Apollo with a flourish. I don't think Deke would bump Lovell from 14 and in reality end his career that way. As for Cernan, seems like his Apollo career would be over.

BBlatcher
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posted 08-04-2014 12:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BBlatcher     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Everything I've read indicates Shepard wasn't quite ready to be commanding the mission, as Mitchell has to spend a lot of time schooling him on the LM. Not a big deal, he clearly got his groove on and did a fine job on the mission.

But it's not odd that some astronauts would be annoyed with him being made Commander without doing a backup rotation. Nobody likes anyone who cuts in front of a well established line. Can't say that Shepard's pulling of rank to put himself as Commander of 13 is admirable, particularly as it indirectly caused Lovell and Haise to miss their shot at walking on the Moon.

quote:
Originally posted by capoetc:
Of course, in that course of events, Cernan likely would have accepted the LMP slot on Apollo 16 (would this have even been offered absent the Apollo 14 backup CDR slot?). Who knows?
In Cernan's book, he says that if he had known that Mike Collins was Deke's first choice for backing up 14/rotating to 17, he might have taken that LMP seat on 16. But if Collins had taken that role, it's doubtful Cernan would have flown again.

schnappsicle
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posted 08-06-2014 08:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Slayton planned each mission to give certain astronauts experience for flights further in the future. Also, the astronauts for the most part flew in a consecutive order. That is, once they came off a flight, they were immediately put on the next assignment. Most of the time, that involved the Pilot (in the case of Gemini) being moved to Command Pilot 6 or 7 missions down the road. Young, Conrad and Lovell benefitted from that rotation. The astronauts earned their command slot by flying a mission (in the right seat) and serving as backup commander 3 missions later. The backup positions were a way for the crew to get extra experience and training to meet the challenges of the mission they'd eventually fly. In Apollo, Slayton's plan was for the CMP to become the CDR 6 missions down the line. Lovell on Apollo 8, backup CDR on Apollo 11 and CDR on Apollo 14, etc. The rotations became skewed when certain people (Anders, McDivitt and Collins for example) decided not to fly again. The remaining CMP's went on to command later missions. Scott on Apollo 9 and 15, Young on Apollo 10 and 16. Cernan was the only LMP to fly 2 Apollo missions.

While we can speculate all we want about who would have been better, Slayton's plan wasn't just for the upcoming mission or two, it was for 2 and 3 years beyond that. I don't know this for a fact, but I think that's probably where he started his crew selection process and worked his way backwards from there.

As for Shepard, it's not so surprising that he'd want to get a flight as soon as possible after returning to flight status. He was after all, the oldest astronaut and I'm sure he wanted to get his flight out of the way before he became grounded again. As for his training, as Chief of the Astronaut Office, his job was to train astronauts for flights. He knew the routine better than anyone since he designed the training. He also kept up with the training while grounded. It wasn't like he jumped into Apollo 14 from nothing. He'd been much more than a backup for the 8 years prior to his Apollo 14 flight.

Lastly, Armstrong's selection to Apollo 11 was pure coincidence. Slayton always said that if Grissom had lived, he would have been first on the moon. It wasn't planned to have the first American be a civilian. Not by NASA and certainly not by anyone in Washington. In fact when Armstrong was assigned to Apollo 11, the plan was to have several earth and high earth orbital missions. If I remember correctly, the first Apollo to land on the moon would have been 13, not 11. 11 only got the slot after cancelling those high earth orbital missions and trimming down the missions by sending Apollo 8 around the moon as soon as they did.


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