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  Playing Deke for a day: alternate crew selections (Page 7)

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Author Topic:   Playing Deke for a day: alternate crew selections
calcheyup
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posted 08-15-2014 07:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Headshot:
The underlying question, use your insight to speculate what might Slayton and Shepard have thought of each other as potential crewmates.
Let me preface my reply with this: Shepard only took part in "Moon Shot" and all the signings that went with it because Deke was dying and wanted to build a nest egg for him to leave behind for his wife. Shepard didn't want to be part of writing a book, and he certainly didn't need the money or the attention; he did that for Deke.

The point of that particular anecdote is, these guys were very good friends. Not only that, but they had the utmost respect for each others' abilities as a pilot. So had the situation arose for Deke to fly with Shepard, there is absolutely no question he would have taken the opportunity in my opinion. This is one of the easiest "what-ifs" to answer in this thread.

I mean, if you want to extrapolate and say that by the time of Apollo, Slayton would have had a spaceflight or two under his belt, then yes he probably would've preferred his own command, but that's not a reflection on whether or not he'd fly with Shepard.

webhamster
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From: Ottawa, Canada
Registered: Jul 2008

posted 08-20-2014 07:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for webhamster     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by schnappsicle:
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?

I never saw it as Deke picking Stafford over Young. I'm pretty sure it had to do with command seniority. Stafford commanded a mission before Young did therefore he holds seniority. In fact, you could argue that Stafford was even promoted to CDR first because his backup GT-9 assignment that ended up prime came before Young was handed the GT-10 CDR seat anyway (admittedly we're probably talking days or weeks here but...)

As in most things, seniority counts the most.

In a perfect world though. I think Young and Stafford (even Lovell) would have been CDR's of their own Apollo crews instead of CMP but manpower and guys with the qualifications they felt were necessary for the CMP seat were thin so you end up with guys who could be CDR taking the middle seat with seniority being the decider.

Skylon
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posted 08-20-2014 09:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would also attribute it to the fact that Tom Stafford transitioned to Apollo before Young, when he was assigned to the Apollo 205 backup crew with Frank Borman and Mike Collins. He had a head start on Young.

Also, Tom Stafford I think never was "behind" Young in terms of Deke's rankings. He was originally pegged to fly before Young, but slipped behind him because of personality matches and more importantly, Slayton recognized Stafford as the rendezvous heavy-weight of the Group 2 astronauts - a recognition that meant him flying later, but was in no way a demerit to Tom.

Keep in mind, the first Gemini crews were of a very hand-picked nature. The objectives of GT-3 thru 7 were very clear (though the sequence changed a little), and Slayton plugged those crews based clearly on his opinion of individual's strengths and weaknesses.

webhamster
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posted 08-20-2014 10:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for webhamster     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Skylon:
I would also attribute it to the fact that Tom Stafford transitioned to Apollo before Young, when he was assigned to the Apollo 205 backup crew with Frank Borman and Mike Collins. He had a head start on Young.

True too. And in the "what if" world, if See-Bassett lived and flew GT-9 and Stafford commands GT-12 then Young probably commands Apollo 10 (or another flight close in the sequence) but with a whole different crew.

Fra Mauro
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From: Bethpage, N.Y.
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posted 09-06-2014 01:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What if Bill Anders stayed in the flight rotation?

calcheyup
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posted 09-07-2014 07:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Um... I don't really know what needs to be discussed there. He would've been CMP on 13, and that's about it.

schnappsicle
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posted 09-11-2014 07:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Delta7:
Cernan as Shepard's LMP? It would make sense to pair Al with an experienced LMP who had actually flown the vehicle.
I understand what you're trying to say. I'd still like to point out that the LMP doesn't actually fly the Lunar Module. The only one who did was Bean, who was asked by Conrad if he wanted to fly it while they were on the back side of the moon following lunar liftoff. The LMPs job was to feed the information to the CDR who's looking out the window during the actual landing. I'm not sure what benefit Cernan could have been to Shepard that any LMP couldn't have provided.

schnappsicle
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From: Houston, TX, USA
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posted 09-11-2014 07:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Delta7:
Cernan must have had some inside knowledge in order to be bold enough to take that gamble.

It could be inside knowledge. After all, he was obviously very close to Stafford who had risen up to management at the time.

What is more likely was that Cernan felt it wasn't worth flying again unless he could command. He made that point abundantly clear in his book. There is definitely a higher status among astronauts who fly in the left seat. Cernan would have been the only Gemini/Apollo astronaut to fly 3 times without commanding a mission.

webhamster
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From: Ottawa, Canada
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posted 09-11-2014 07:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for webhamster     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by calcheyup:
Um... I don't really know what needs to be discussed there. He would've been CMP on 13, and that's about it.
Pretty much. Anders could do the math and knew how the rotation worked so he could predict his trajectory. Backup CMP on 11, prime on 14, backup CDR on 17, CDR of 20. And he also knew 20 was gone. He saw lots of work with little to no reward and no moonwalk. He probably made the right decision to bail when he did.

Delta7
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posted 09-11-2014 08:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by schnappsicle:
I'm not sure what benefit Cernan could have been to Shepard that any LMP couldn't have provided.
As a career professional pilot, I can say with certainty that a good and experienced co-pilot makes a significant difference. Not saying others LMPs wouldn't have been as good (Mitchell certainly knew the LM as well as anyone). However someone like Cernan who had flown in space and in the LM might have made the perfect LMP for someone with as relatively little experience as Shepard. The fact that there was even discussion about Jim McDivitt filling the role indicates there was some thinking along those lines.

webhamster
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From: Ottawa, Canada
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posted 09-11-2014 08:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for webhamster     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by schnappsicle:
What is more likely was that Cernan felt it wasn't worth flying again unless he could command.
He makes it pretty clear that he felt he deserved a CDR slot. I think what made him feel like he had a chance was his assumption that Mike Collins would be retiring after 11 which would open up the CDR slot backing up 14. He says in his book that had he felt Collins would take 14 he would've taken backup LMP on 13. But I think he felt it was a pretty safe bet that the 14 seat would be open.

His real gamble came much later, after 18 was cancelled and 17 became a showdown between the 14 and 15 backup crews. I think Stafford was instrumental for him there.

calcheyup
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Registered: May 2014

posted 09-11-2014 10:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for calcheyup     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Delta7:
However someone like Cernan who had flown in space and in the LM might have made the perfect LMP for someone with as relatively little experience as Shepard.
I understand the point you're making; however, I don't think that many guys, Cernan included, could have been a better fit in the LMP slot for Shepard, for the following reasons:
  1. Dr. Mitchell was an absolute expert on the LM. I don't think, at that point, too many guys knew more about the lunar module than Mitchell did. From an interview with Dr. Mitchell on the Apollo 14 Lunar Surface Journal:

    I was on the backup crew for 10. Also, I'd been on the support crew for 9. Fred Haise and I probably knew more about the lunar module than any two guys alive at that point, since we helped build it at Grumman/Bethpage (the facility at Bethpage, New York, where the LMs were designed and built). And had been through all the cycles with all the spacecraft - with all of the lunar modules...

    So, by the time it came around to Apollo 14, I'd had a lot of simulator time on the lunar module and Fred Haise and I helped build the darn thing. And I'd been through Apollo 13 prime crew training. So there weren't many people around who knew the lunar module better than I did. And, during the Apollo 13 experience, where Fred and Jim had to bring their lunar module back as a lifeboat, I spent the 5 days of that emergency in the lunar module simulator, creating the procedures they had to use. And radioing 'em up to them in space. So, at this point, I could personally fly the lunar module blindfolded. Al was a very quick learner and a hell of a pilot, but he still didn't know the lunar module like I did. So our cockpit procedures were such that, when things were on his side of the cockpit and he was handling it, I kept hands off. But we double-checked everything, all the way down the line. And he knew what I was doing and I knew what he was doing, and we just double-checked each other all the way.

  2. In some ways, Mitchell's lack of spaceflight experience was actually an asset to Shepard. Here, Al got a guy who knew his place in the right hand seat. Although Shepard and Cernan certainly had a lot of respect for one another, it's not hard to imagine a situation, especially given Cernan's drive to command a lunar mission, where the lines between CDR and LMP may have been blurred a bit.
As I've mentioned before, in Roosa and Mitchell, I don't think the crew Shepard could have got much better for him.
quote:
Originally posted by webhamster:
I think Stafford was instrumental for him there.
Certainly. By this time he had Stafford and Shepard in his corner. I don't think at that point in time there were any two bigger heavyweights in terms of suction in the Astronaut Office.


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