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  Mercury astronaut crew quarters (Hangar S)

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Author Topic:   Mercury astronaut crew quarters (Hangar S)
Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 1823
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 08-18-2004 11:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While checking and sorting over some of my space files, I thought it would be fun to highlight some interesting and probably not too-well known historical aspects of this nation's first manned space attempt.

The first astronaut crew quarters, actually, was Room S205. It was on the second floor of Hangar S, on the south side of the building, located in the heart of Cape Canaveral's industrial area, which I have visited many times before, what is now referred to as the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Here is what America's first astronaut himself, Al Shepard, said about S205;

The air-conditioned room, about 20x30' in size, is furnished with two double-deck bunks, two beige-colored nylon couches, a reclining chair, magazine racks, a desk and chair, radio, TV and a clock.
At that time during the Project Mercury era, however, other rooms adjoined as part of the crew quarters' suites. The next room down the corridor was for inter-office conferences. Next to that facility was the pressure-suit fitting room and next to that was the aeromedical room, where doctors such as Bill Douglas kept their charts, thermometers, and other required medical equipment on hand.

The rooms were decorated by Dee O'Hara, at that time, an Air Force Lieutenant nurse assigned to work for the Mercury astronaut team at Langley and later at the Cape.

Hangar S is still a working-facility on the Cape, but of course, no longer houses astronaut crew support functions as it once did when Americans first pioneered into the heavens. Hangar S, by my definition, will always be remembered as a special place in Project Mercury history. Even the Mercury spacecrafts were checked and tested in the same hangar facility before their launch into space.

Bob M
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Posts: 1367
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 08-18-2004 12:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Ken, for this little bit of interesting space history.

Steven Kaplan
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Posts: 110
From:
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 08-18-2004 05:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steven Kaplan   Click Here to Email Steven Kaplan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Where was crew quarters during Gemini? I believe suit up took place in a trailer near Pad 16, but had the astronauts relocated during Gemini, or not until Apollo began? Just curious.

ColinBurgess
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Posts: 1567
From: Sydney, Australia
Registered: Sep 2003

posted 08-18-2004 07:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The air-conditioned room, about 20x30' in size, is furnished with two double-deck bunks, two beige-colored nylon couches, a reclining chair, magazine racks, a desk and chair, radio, TV and a clock.
That's a great quote from Al Shepard. Can you tell me what the source was for it?

heng44
Member

Posts: 2564
From: Netherlands
Registered: Nov 2001

posted 08-19-2004 01:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for heng44   Click Here to Email heng44     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Steven Kaplan:
Where was crew quarters during Gemini?
I believe the crew quarters in the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building were in use from Gemini-3 or 4 onwards. I know for sure that Gemini-6 and 7 used it.

Look at the photos of the pre-flight breakfast of these missions and you'll recognize the room (and the curtains, which hung there until the 1980s!).

I have seen a NASA-photo of the layout of the crew quarters, which was published around 1965.

(Anecdote I heard from a NASA escort while touring KSC in 1981: After manned flights ended with Apollo-Soyuz the "Manned" was dropped from the name Manned Spacecraft Operations Building (MSOB). Because the acronym would be SOB they changed it to Operations and Checkout Building. Not sure if this is true.)

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 1823
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 08-19-2004 09:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In Jan. 1963 construction started on a new multi-storied structure of approx. 17,200 square meters at KSC's new industrial area, projected to last about 5 years before full completion. That was the Manned Spacecraft Operations (MSO) Building, now referred as the Operations & Checkout (O&C) facility.

A new astronaut crew quarters was located on the 4th floor — and still is there for the shuttle crews — that contains a complete living quarters for the crews (prime and backup during the Geminis and Apollos).

The astronauts live in a maze of about 20 rooms that includes three apartment complexes with three beds each, a gymnasium, lounge, kitchen, tech-briefing area, dinning room, a small medical clinic, bathrooms, a laundry area and even a sauna room. The first astronauts to use the new quarters prior to an assigned flight was the GT-3 crew of Grissom, Young, and backups Schirra and Stafford.

The new living quarters, about 3 miles from the old Hangar S, where the Mercury astronauts stayed, was relocated over to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island side, for better convenience and other requirements. Once the crew left their living quarters, about three hours before a planned liftoff, Gemini astronauts would take a 5 mile drive to the Gemini Crew Ready Room, a trailer complex at Pad 16, which is the nearest launch pad south of Gemini Launch Complex 19, where the crew took off from. That was a short quarter-of-a-mile ride in a truck-like air-conditioned van.

It was at Pad 16 where the Gemini "twins" would suit up in preparation for their launch, but with no crew quarters accommodations. Pad 16, on the other hand, was first used to test fly the Army's new Pershing weapon systems that first flew in 1960.

Early on, NASA planners had wanted the O&C building to house all the astronaut flight crew training simulators and related equipment as part of the astronaut facilities there, but in early 1964 it was decided to construct a separate building for crew training activities (similar to their training facility at the now-Johnson Space Center in Houston).

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 1823
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 08-19-2004 03:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ColinBurgess:
Can you tell me what the source was for it?
My MR-3 notes indicated that Shepard's quote of his astronaut crew quarters in Hangar S came from We Seven by the first original Mercury team published in 1962. Shepard had a chapter in the book discussing what it was like on the day America's first spaceman rocketed into suborbital flight.
quote:
Originally posted by heng44:
I have seen a NASA-photo of the layout of the crew quarters, which was published around 1965.
Yes, there is an 8x10 NASA B/W photo outlining crew quarters as it was first built in 1964-65. In case you or anyone else might be interested, it was first released on Dec. 3, 1965 (Photo #65-H-1856) for the GT-7 orbital mission of Borman and Lovell.

The GT-3 crew moved into crew quarters on March 15, 1965, a little over a week before their maiden Gemini was to fly. Command Pilot Grissom, from my notes and sources, described the new quarters as "quiet, comfortably furnished, and like being in a new motel."

He said it was Stafford's idea (he laid it out) to include a gym or exercise room as part of the suites, that even included a pair of punching bags and stationary pedal bikes.

heng44
Member

Posts: 2564
From: Netherlands
Registered: Nov 2001

posted 08-20-2004 03:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for heng44   Click Here to Email heng44     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That photo of the layout of the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building can be seen here.

413 is in
Member

Posts: 397
From: Alexandria, VA USA
Registered: May 2006

posted 01-28-2007 04:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 413 is in   Click Here to Email 413 is in     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For those who may be interested, here are the Mercury astronaut crew quarters.

Now that's what I call living! Photo caption:

PL-60-56944
8/24/60

Official U.S. Air Force Photo
RCA Photo Lab.
Air Force Missile Test Center
Patrick AFB, Florida
CCMTA, NASA, Hangar S.
Mercury Astronauts Lounge in Hangar S
.

SpaceCat
Member

Posts: 151
From: Florida, US
Registered: May 2006

posted 01-28-2007 09:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceCat     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In the late '90's I was doing some contract work for Life Sciences in Hanger L. One day I joined four or five resident engineers going out to lunch and as we passed Hanger S I said, "Ahh, Hanger S, where it all started."

These guys looked at me like I was from Mars! They work on 'Hanger Row' every day- and had no idea of the history.

Great shot, Bill! I think I've slept in 'that room' in a million other places — it's always a crapshoot to see who gets the bunk next to the rattling A/C vent!

Lola Morrow
Member

Posts: 40
From: Denver Co USA
Registered: Jun 2006

posted 01-29-2007 02:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lola Morrow   Click Here to Email Lola Morrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ken, thanks for posting the crews quarters floor plan in the MSOB. I gave my copy to the diretor, Eric Borg if I remember correctly) of the "From the Earth to the Moon" TV series. I was a technical advisor while working out of Ron Howard's Hollywood office and later on the set at Disney World. I never got my copy back.

I completely furnished the quarters at Gus's request including the kitchen, linens. pictures, furniture, from top to bottom with the exception of the gym equipment...

If you read "First on the Moon", there is a story about it.

While this was being done, the astronaut office was located down the hall through the double doors. (The receptionist desk was never used).

Where the corridor going into Apartment 3 (which was never designated as such) there was a door that opened up to the astronaut offices, which is still there today. That is where we relocated as soon as all furnishings that I ordered were delivered and everything in place.

Pan Am supplied two maids and a cook. That was our staffing there. I was in and out constantly arranging luncheons for the crews' guests and other various functions. My duties were so varied. I think I may have typed two short memos during my years there. They had their secretaries in JSC taking care of all that. The quarters and the offices were a secured area. Keys were assigned to the crews by me.

I no longer have a rendering of the offices and if you do, please share it with me. I can draw one by heart but my lines would not be straight.

I'm amazed as I write my book that so much info is available on this great site and helps with my memory and research. Kris mentioned that Cs would be a good site to be active in for those reasons. However, it is now more than that as I am renewing friendships with some of the other old timers from Mercury, Gemini and Apollo and making new friends.

All times are CT (US)

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