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  Playing Deke for a day: alternate crew selections (Page 6)

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Author Topic:   Playing Deke for a day: alternate crew selections
Skylon
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posted 08-06-2014 04:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Earth orbital series of Apollo flights had been whittled away for years before Apollo 11 flew. First when the Saturn I flights were eliminated, before an Apollo crew was even assigned. Apollo 205 was cut as redundant, and the mission scheme that more or less flew, the entire C, D, E, F and G missions was in place by the time Armstrong was assigned to an Apollo crew (further, Armstrong's crew was created to fill the void left by the deaths of Grissom, White and Chaffee and the subsequent shuffling that occured).

By 1968 NASA had a good indication Apollo 11 could end up as the first landing attempt. Michael Collins states in his book he delivered a talk that year, and stated that CSM 107 and LM 5 were slated to attempt the first landing based on NASA's long term planning paperwork (which happened as advertised).

But when Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin were assigned there was still the entire question of the LM's performance, and that was a huge question mark. If Apollo 9 and 10 failed to meet their objectives, and needed to be repeated, the landing could easily have slipped to Apollo 12, or even 13.

jasonelam
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posted 08-06-2014 05:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I recently read that if Shepard had flown Gemini 3, he would more than likely would have been given command of Apollo 1. Any thoughts on who the crew would have been for Apollo 1 and what effect that would have had on crew rotation?

Captain Apollo
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posted 08-06-2014 05:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Captain Apollo   Click Here to Email Captain Apollo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, without being ghoulish, it depends if they die.

calcheyup
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posted 08-06-2014 06:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jasonelam:
Any thoughts on who the crew would have been for Apollo 1 and what effect that would have had on crew rotation?
Oh man, the "ifs" in this one are just too much. And if Shepard's "what ifs" weren't enough, what about Tom Stafford's? Had he flown on Gemini 3 his entire arc at NASA would have been different.

Tom
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posted 08-06-2014 06:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For Tom Stafford's career at NASA... maybe.

If he was PLT on Gemini 3, he probably would be back-up CDR on "6", which would put him in line as CDR on "9"... not much change.

Skylon
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posted 08-06-2014 09:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For the sake, or argument, if Shepard were to serve a backup turn, the main people I see it impacting are firstly, whomever gets Apollo 13 as CDR, and then John Young and Gene Cernan.

Shepard backing up 13 leaves John Young out of luck seemingly, but Mike Collins departure would then make him an easy fit to backup 14 and command 17. So, if Shepard were to do a turn as backup, I imagine the rotation like this:

  • Apollo 13
    Prime: McDivitt or Cooper, Roosa, Mitchell
    Backup: Shepard, Swigert, Duke
  • Apollo 14
    Prime: Lovell, Mattingly, Haise
    Backup: Young, Evans, Engle
  • Apollo 15
    Prime: Scott, Worden, Irwin
    Backup: Gordon, Brand, Schmitt
This basically leaves Gene Cernan out of the running entirely.

Michael Cassutt
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posted 08-06-2014 10:13 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 calcheyup:
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. Just wondering on whose authority this story has been validated is all.
Returning to this thread, my sense of sport over-riding my sense of time management... I am the well, not authority — the word you want is source. McDivitt told me this in 1993... I believe it's quoted in DEKE!.

It was, essentially, "Slayton and Shepard asked me if I'd be interested in flying with Shepard... I said no." There was no discussion of McDivitt as LM pilot, though that was obviously one of a couple of options — the other being McDivitt as CDR and Shepard as LMP.

It was a one-time conversation about a possibility that McDivitt never considered seriously — he MIGHT have (he said) have been convinced to fly again "with Dave and Rusty," but when told by Slayton that Dave Scott was getting his own crew... and Shepard was jumping back into the rotation in a prime crew, he opted out.

Skylon
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posted 08-07-2014 08:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Michael:

Your comment prompted me to go back to "Deke!" and I noticed the following: "the first thought Al and I had was to put him on Thirteen as commander with Jim McDivitt as lunar module pilot." - No mention is made of Al and Deke actually telling McDivitt this.

So, combined with the quote you just mentioned (which I didn't find in "Deke!") I can easily see the conversation going as simply as Deke and Al asking McDivitt - "Would you be interested in flying with Al?" (Answer: "No") Followed by "Well, who would you want to fly to the Moon with?"

At which point the conversation would have ended, since Dave Scott was getting his own crew. Or they could have gone on to offer him the job of Chief Astronaut since Shepard would be back in training (which McDivitt also turned down).

Delta7
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posted 08-07-2014 09:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems to me that Shepard was the beneficiary of good timing as much as anything else.

It's obvious that Slayton didn't really want to use Cooper on Apollo, but didn't have much of a choice. When it came to putting together a backup crew for Apollo 10, there weren't many options. He could have recycled Schirra/Eisele/Cunningham, but Wally was done and on his way out the door. Using the rotation system he himself devised, he could have promoted Eisele to CDR, with Cunningham moving over to CMP (fulfilling Deke's requirement that the slot be filled by a space veteran on the early lunar missions), and put Ed Mitchell in as LMP. But there were other issues with Eisele and there was no way he was going to command a crew. The only real alternative was to use Cooper, with reservations.

At some point if not right off the bat, Slayton decided to not rotate Cooper into a prime crew slot. Shepard becoming available was likely the ideal solution to the "Cooper dilemma" as far as Deke was concerned. By all accounts Slayton was a competent and fair manager, and I don't see him bumping another astronaut who had Deke's confidence in favor of Shepard. At least not without moving said individual into another more or less equal slot. Cooper was going to be replaced one way or the other; why not use Al?

calcheyup
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posted 08-07-2014 10:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Cassutt:
It was, essentially, "Slayton and Shepard asked me if I'd be interested in flying with Shepard... I said no."
Thanks Michael. However, asking McDivitt if he'd fly with Shepard is worlds different than asking him if he'd serve under Shepard. I think no matter what the roles were officially, McDivitt probably realized that crewing with Shepard would create a situation with too many chiefs and not enough Indians, as the saying goes.

Michael Cassutt
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posted 08-07-2014 02:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Cassutt   Click Here to Email Michael Cassutt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I went back to my notes of the McDivitt conversation, and a couple of possibilities were indeed mentioned — fly under Shepard's command, or have Shepard fly under McDivitt's. This isn't the only time Slayton considered something like this — when he returned to flight status, he nominated himself — a space rookie — as commander with veteran Jack Swigert under him. He was big into seniority at times.

You are correct, though: there's no possible version of this crew that would have worked.

calcheyup
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posted 08-07-2014 03:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the inside story. As I suspected, the truth deviates substantially from the traditional narrative — that McDivitt's only option to fly was as Shepard's subordinate. To me, what really happened sounds like an informal chat about whether McDivitt would crew with Shepard period, as CDR or LMP, both options McDivitt (understandably) was not interested in.

Captain Apollo
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posted 08-07-2014 05:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Captain Apollo   Click Here to Email Captain Apollo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't know. As a space consumer so to speak, I find it odd to learn of humans who turned down a chance to do something so unprecedented because of personality conflicts or career plans. What dispute, what promotion, could be worth not being of the select humans who have ever visited another world. Don't get it.

David C
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posted 08-07-2014 06:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I do. And lets face it, several other guys had a good chance to walk on the moon and turned it down.

At some point the cost of that one to three day ticket (especially for an experienced guy) just isn't worth it. It's easy to say something like "I'd give my right arm to have landed on the moon" (heck, I've thought it), but that seems to show either a lack of imagination or, frankly, someone who doesn't have much to give/loose.

In other words; say I got a boring seemingly pointless job shuffling paper for peanuts or some such, maybe, just maybe it would be true.

But if you've flown three different spaceships, value your family life, are massively talented and being offered six plus months with a difficult character you don't see eye to eye with to spend a few hours as fifth/sixth man to walk on a lifeless dusty rock pile - maybe you'll decide you quite like you're right arm. Maybe you only live once and you have a great chance to do something else you always wanted to. Purely hypothetical of course.

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-07-2014 06:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If McDivitt was commander of 13, can we be certain that once he couldn't reunite the Apollo 9 crew, that he would have agreed to fly with Roosa and Mitchell?

calcheyup
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posted 08-07-2014 08:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by David C:
I do. And lets face it, several other guys had a good chance to walk on the moon and turned it down.
Good points.

In this particular case, you would have had two guys who, no matter what positions they were officially, would think that they deserved to be CDR over the other one. And no matter how hard either one of them may have tried, that essential point was probably never going to change. And it would have been a disaster predicated just on that.

Shepard got the perfect crew for himself - smart, capable astronauts who would defer to him without hesitation as the guy in charge. And that's how it needs to work.

Paul78zephyr
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posted 08-07-2014 09:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Skylon:
So, if Shepard were to do a turn as backup, I imagine the rotation like this...
Good analysis.

And John Young would have been the 'last man on the moon'. And he probably wouldn't have made much about that either.

David C
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posted 08-07-2014 11:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Skylon:
This basically leaves Gene Cernan out of the running entirely.

Er, possibly not since Cernan can calculate too and, depending on when the rumours of Shepard's return began to circulate, he may have noticed the lack of command slots in time. We know Slayton offered him LMP first, and in this situation he may have taken it.

Headshot
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posted 08-08-2014 06:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by calcheyup:
Shepard got the perfect crew for himself - smart, capable astronauts who would defer to him without hesitation as the guy in charge. And that's how it needs to work.
...and, in Ed Mitchell's case, Shepard got someone who was willing to learn the geology in which he had no, or at the very best little, interest. It is very unfortunate that a dedicated two-man team did not explore the Fra Mauro formation. It, and Descartes, were unique in that almost all scientists were unanimous in their selection of these two sites for exploration. I firmly believe that we would have gotten so much more science out of Fra Mauro had Lovell and Haise, Scott and Irwin, Young and Duke, or Cernan and Schmitt (not Engle) walked that terrain.

With Shepard, great pilot and formidable personality that he was, they got someone who wanted to check off another box on his bucket list and hit a few golf balls rather than perform real scientific exploration.

Delta7
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posted 08-08-2014 07:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by David C:
We know Slayton offered him LMP first, and in this situation he may have taken it.
Cernan as Shepard's LMP? It would make sense to pair Al with an experienced LMP who had actually flown the vehicle.

Skylon
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posted 08-08-2014 08:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A few points:

McDivitt accepting Roosa and Mitchell had he wanted to fly - I can't speak on Ed Mitchell, but Stu Roosa had been designated as his crew's representative to MOCR during planning for Apollo 9 and served as a Capcom during the flight. I think McDivitt would be fine flying with Stu. Frankly, if he was really serious about going to the Moon I think he would have accepted a different CMP, and acknowledged Dave Scott deserved his own crew. He still could have fought for Rusty as his LMP however (though I doubt he would win).

As far as Cernan being out of the running - that is possible. We really don't know why Gene felt bold enough to hold out on flying as LMP, for a possible CDR seat. Maybe he had just spoken to Mike Collins enough to recognize he wasn't going to fly again. The issue is Apollo 13's backup crew (pointed at 16) would have been assigned before 14's (pointed at 17). Either way, Cernan was taking a gamble by turning down the LMP seat on Young's crew.

But either way, yeah, that crew scenario I posted could leave either Gene Cernan, or Charlie Duke, with no ride to the moon.

Delta7
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posted 08-08-2014 10:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cernan must have had some inside knowledge in order to be bold enough to take that gamble.

Slayton's rotation system was evident to anyone. By the spring of 1969 the lunar landing CDR slots could be projected all the way through at least Apollo 18, and there was no reason for Cernan to expect Deke would bump Scott, Young, Collins or Gordon in favor of him.

He might have had the idea of holding out for Apollo 19 or 20; that would have required Deke bumping the CMP of Apollo 13 or 14 (Roosa or Mattingly, who would have been in line for those positions according to Deke's system) in Gene's favor.

All that and the good possibility that the program wouldn't go that far would make Cernan's gamble a real roll of the dice, the outcome predicated on a lot of "ifs." I tend to think Cernan must have known that Collins was going to leave after Apollo 11. The gamble makes a lot more sense in that case.

Delta7
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posted 08-08-2014 10:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I also recall reading somewhere that Charlie Duke was originally in line to fly as CMP. It's possible that Slayton's original plan for Apollo 13 backup crew/Apollo 16 prime crew was Young, Duke, Cernan.

calcheyup
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posted 08-08-2014 11:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Headshot:
With Shepard, great pilot and formidable personality that he was, they got someone who wanted to check off another box on his bucket list and hit a few golf balls rather than perform real scientific exploration.
While there is no question that Al Shepard's primary, overriding reason for going to the moon was for Al Shepard, this comment is a stilted oversimplification. This argument has been done to death, but let me just address the following, as briefly as possible:
  • The golf shot is always brought up as if it's of some importance proving that Shepard didn't care about the mission objectives. That stunt equated to a grand total of about two minutes of EVA time, after they had returned to the LM for the final time. Shepard didn't chisel time out of trying to accomplish mission objectives so he could play driving range on the moon. The amount of time Shepard spent playing golf is so inconsequential that to bring it up as a criticism of Shepard's lunar performance is petty and, really, irrelevant.

  • While Shepard may not have cared much for geology, I think he did care for completing as many of the mission objectives as possible and being remembered for flying a good mission. And, per NASA's debrief, that's just what he did. You're acting like Shepard built himself a hammock out of spare parts and snoozed until Mitchell was finished doing all the work in the mission checklist, and hit a few golf balls. That's ridiculous. Shepard's performance on the surface was not perfect, by any stretch, but nor was he a complete zero up there like you would indicate.

  • Obviously the EVA to Cone did not go ideally, but that wasn't because Shepard didn't care about geology. Also, the frequently offered notion that Mitchell was gung-ho to reach the rim whereas Shepard didn't really care, and that there was a conflict between the two up there, is nonsense. Further to that, may I offer this.

    They couldn't have got much closer without falling in. Both of those men worked hard on the surface to complete what they were sent up there to do.

As for the traverse to Cone, Mitchell's shot of the LM from where they were shows just how far and uphill it was. It was an extremely difficult situation that they handled as best they could. It wasn't an ideal traverse, and the time it ate up definitely affected other parts of what they were trying to do, but reading the transcript, the lunar surface journal, Chaikin's book, the debrief, and Mitchell's own comments on the matter (all sources that can do a better job shedding light on what happened up there than I ever could), none of them indicate that Shepard was just passing time until he could try out some one-armed 6 iron shots.

Headshot
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posted 08-08-2014 12:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rather than focus on individual events like the Cone Crater search, which is where Shepard's leadership actually saved the day, I prefer to look at the overall Fra Mauro Formation exploration as a whole.

It could have been a whole lot better with a little more effort. Samples were documented properly less than half the time and most of the samples obtained were of dark materials (the exceptions) rather than the prevalent light materials (the rule). This is the moon, we need to know more about what is the rule, rather than the exception. This rookie tendency could have been easily avoided but the mission commander just was not interested in learning.

Geologist Don Wilhelm observed, "I believe the inadequacies of the Apollo 14 sample collection force us to look back at photo-geology and ahead to the results of other missions ..." I have yet to read an equally negative comment about any other Apollo mission's sample collection.

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-08-2014 12:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I look at the golf shot positively, especially coming at the time that it did. If Shepard did it right after coming down the ladder the first time, then it's a different story. From the evidence, he did a good job as commander, but that may be comapred to having a good day as a Super Bowl QB. It might not be good enough.

calcheyup
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posted 08-08-2014 12:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Headshot:
Samples were documented properly less than half the time...
With regards to documentation, would you not agree that the sheer amount of time utilized in navigating, traversing, and searching for the rim of Cone affected their ability to do so, just from a point of view of time available to them?

Additionally, if Mitchell cared about geology and Shepard didn't, why didn't Mitchell make an emphasis of collecting the rocks you described? It's not as if Al Shepard was telling him what he could and couldn't look for and sample up there.

It seems to be forgotten or at least, vastly underestimated, the difficulty of the tasks during their second EVA, which honestly I feel like they got through admirably considering the circumstances. No, it wasn't perfect, and as you said, probably could have been done better, but judging from everything I've read, it also doesn't reek of Alan Shepard's apathy for rocks.

If we'd gotten to the point where we'd been willing to do away with the rest of the traverse (that is, do their work at the Cone rim and then proceed directly back to the LM without stopping), we could have made the rim all right. But I personally wasn't willing to do that. I felt that gathering more samples was the better of the two choices.
This doesn't sound like someone that didn't care about the geology aspect of the mission.

Lastly, with regards to the quote you mentioned, there were other geologists who were "ecstatic" (Chaikin) over the samples they brought back. So ecstatic that they sent the crew a case of Scotch in quarantine. Hearing these conflicting ideas to me represents a chasm more in what an individual geologist felt was important to recover from the surface than anything.

calcheyup
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posted 08-08-2014 01:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Fra Mauro:
From the evidence, he did a good job as commander, but that may be compared to having a good day as a Super Bowl QB. It might not be good enough.
You also have to remember that 14's success "saved the program" (Chaikin again), and gave Apollo three more kicks at the can with vastly improved scientific resources at their disposal. So the ramifications of 14's flight reach far beyond their own mission itself.

And yes, the golf shot is irrelevant to Shepard's performance on the surface, and seems only to be turned to when someone has an ax to grind with him. If Jim Lovell had done it nobody would care.

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-08-2014 02:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Was some of the negativity about 14 caused by Cooper's own bitterness and Eugene Shoemaker's comments about their performance at Fra Mauro?

calcheyup
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posted 08-08-2014 02:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When you pile on the way Shepard got his command, and the fact that he probably didn't make any friends within NASA's scientific community during his tenure as chief astronaut, it's a pretty decent sized list of people were likely just itching for a reason to bag him. That's not to say some criticism of the mission wasn't warranted, but the way it's sometimes portrayed - that Shepard ignored every piece of geology training, cared nothing about the mission objectives beyond his personal gain, and mailed it in from the surface, all while stifling every single one of Ed Mitchell's attempts to do something meaningful, is just nonsense and really doesn't deserve any further discourse as far as I'm concerned.

schnappsicle
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posted 08-13-2014 07:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Fra Mauro:
I look at the golf shot positively, especially coming at the time that it did. If Shepard did it right after coming down the ladder the first time, then it's a different story.

The last 4 missions all did something at the end of their last EVA. Shepard hit a golf ball, Scott played Galileo, Duke and Young performed the first Lunar Olympics, and Cernan and Schmitt collected a special rock to share with the world. All 8 men wasted some time on the surface, even if it was just for a minute or two. I find it incredible that people can criticize one astronaut without criticizing the other 7.

Personally, I really enjoyed those moments. I laughed when Shepard hit the golf ball. I was amazed when the hammer and feather hit the surface at the same time. I was petrified when Duke fell over backwards. I'm still waiting for my piece of the Apollo 17 ceremonial rock. All they did was prove they're human, which is something that the first 2 crews did not have time to do. As great as the lunar landings were, they were way too technical for most people on earth. Those moments helped non-technical earthlings like me connect with what they were doing up there. I probably wouldn't be interested in space exploration if not for the lighter moments they shared with us.

Lastly, I believe the geology done on each mission was a reflection of the surface time they had available. I can only imagine how few rocks Armstrong would have collected had he been required to photograph and describe each rock in detail. While the Apollo 12 and 14 crews did a better job of documenting than Armstrong, they only had a small fraction of the time to collect samples that the last 3 crews had. I'm not sure that describing every rock in detail at the time of collection would have changed anything. It's like Duke said, they can see the samples when they arrive at the LRL, so why go through the trouble to give detailed descriptions when a simple "breccia in bag 355" would have sufficed? They probably could have collected a lot more samples on the later missions had they simplified the process instead of complicating it.

moorouge
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posted 08-15-2014 04:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a long thread, so apologies if this has been raised before.

Can I put a couple of spanners into the works by wondering what the possible effects on crew selection would be if the Gemini 6 crew had had to eject (they might well have survived but might well have lost flight status for a considerable time) and if the Gemini 8 crew had not been able to resolve their thruster problem and been lost. With the Apollo 1 fire to come and the subsequent loss of another crew, who might have been first on the Moon?

schnappsicle
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posted 08-15-2014 05:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
WOW! That's a lot of things to go wrong in a short amount of time. NASA is in the business of sending people into space, not eternity. I'm not sure that Congress or the nation would have continued to fund and support an agency that kept putting its astronauts in graves, but suppose somehow they did. Since there were no Mercury astronauts left except for Cooper, who wasn't going to fly again anyway, it's safe to assume that the first man would have been one of the group 2 astronauts.

With See and Armstrong gone, and assuming that Deke would continue to rotate the astronauts, the most logical man for the job is Young. He's the one with astronaut seniority (Gemini 3) and he has rendezvous experience (Gemini 10) which would make him the top man to command the first lunar landing. Then again, Deke picked Stafford over Young to command the Apollo 10 mission, so would it be Stafford? In that case, the real question becomes who's on 10?

Skylon
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posted 08-15-2014 08:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, this went grim.

If the GT-6 crew ejects, NASA would come under intense scrutiny because that Titan II would have stayed bolted to the pad. From an outsiders (or Congressional hack's) POV - the question would be "why did they eject?" It would be a "popped cork" with far more serious implications - a possibly dead or seriously injured crew.

Also, I know the common refrain is "nobody would have blamed Wally and Tom if they ejected" - but the bottom line is, they would have made the wrong call - make of that what you will for their future careers.

If the GT-8 crew dies on orbit all Gemini flights are suspended. Heck, with the dual failure you propose of GT 6 and GT 8, within just months of each other, I can see the entire plug pulled on the Gemini program (Gemini's funding was rather finite).

In the best case scenario, this leads to Apollo being zeroed in on with such scrutiny that the tragedy of Apollo 1 never happens. When Apollo finally does fly, it has to fly a series of Earth orbital missions to test the objectives Gemini failed to meet (rendezvous and docking, effective EVA).

If the fire does still happen in your scenario, then that does note bode well for an American on the Moon by the end of 1969.

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-15-2014 01:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a long thread but an interesting one!

With that interesting and tragic scenario — one and possibly two Gemini crews killed, t is most certain that the Gemini project ends even with the equipment bought and paid for. Stafford, in "We have Capture," states that the ignition of the ejections seats would have set them on fire.

Apollo would have to finish Gemini's objectives. I agree that the Apollo 1 fire doesn't happen after that scenario.

calcheyup
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posted 08-15-2014 04:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So in this scenario, See, Bassett, Williams, Freeman, Armstrong, Scott, Grissom, White, Chaffee are dead, Schirra and Stafford are laid up (at best)?

I would say the crew rotation would probably be comprised of anyone who would be willing to strap in to anything NASA had at that point.

Skylon
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posted 08-15-2014 05:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by calcheyup:
So in this scenario, See, Bassett, Williams, Freeman, Armstrong, Scott, Grissom, White, Chaffee are dead, Schirra and Stafford are laid up (at best)?

To pull this back to the "Deke" part of the thread, this is why Gemini was so critical - it provided a pool of experienced Astronauts equipped to press onto the first landing. If GT 6 and GT 8 suffered the horrific situations suggested and the entire program was scrapped, and on top of that, the Apollo 1 fire occurred than that manpower plummets to six veteran Astronauts for Apollo - Cooper, Young, McDivitt, Conrad, Lovell and Borman.

I also think this thread is serving as a sharp reminder of the correct calls Slayton made in assigning crews. Schirra and Armstrong's actions are so engrained into the annals of spaceflight, that it is near impossible for me to take the step back and say "what if they messed up?"

Headshot
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posted 08-15-2014 05:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not to beat the Shepard topic to death, but if the heart murmur issue became irrelevant, would Deke have chosen Al Shepard as a crewmate for himself for either a Gemini or Apollo mission?

calcheyup
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posted 08-15-2014 05:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If the heart murmur didn't exist, Slayton wouldn't have been choosing crews.

If what you are driving at is what I think, that even Slayton wouldn't have wanted Al Shepard as a crewmate, that doesn't really need to be met with a significant response for obvious reasons.

Headshot
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posted 08-15-2014 07:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No, since I used "had become" it implied that the heart issue existed, but was no longer relevant for various reasons. Since it did exist at one time, Slayton would have been temporarily disqualified and choosing crews.

The underlying question, use your insight to speculate what might Slayton and Shepard have thought of each other as potential crewmates.

It's all a fun gedanken drill anyway.


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