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  If Apollo 1 had flown successfully...

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Author Topic:   If Apollo 1 had flown successfully...
dtemple
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posted 05-10-2005 08:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This topic started under the heading of "Edward H. White II question." It drifted into alternative history (thanks to me) so I thought I would continue the thought under a new subject title.
In case you missed my earlier postings on the subject here is the background that started it. A few years ago, I wondered how crew selections would have changed had Apollo 1 flown as successfully as Apollo 7 and in a spacecraft designed exactly as those that actually flew the manned missions. I actually took the time to lay out a possible solution and the recent Ed White topic reminded me of it. So, I uncovered my old notes, posted them, received some interesting comments, and was prompted to rethink much of it. Here is the result of the additional consideration of the matter. It differs substantially from my earlier scheme.

Dec 1966 Original Apollo 2 CSM earth orbital test canceled

Feb 21, 1967 Apollo 1 prime crew = Grissom, White, Chaffee flies two-week mission; Backup crew = Schirra, Eisele, Cunningham

Mar or Apr 1967 AS-206/LM-1 unmanned test

Fall 1967 AS-501 1st unmanned Saturn V test

April 1968 AS-502 2nd unmanned Saturn V test; "pogo" problems delay next manned flight

Late Summer/Early Fall 1968 Apollo 2 1st lunar orbit; prime crew = Borman, Collins/Young*, Anders ; back-up crew = Grissom, Young, Cernan; the mission is swapped as actually happened with Apollo 8 and 9 because the LM-3 is not yet ready to fly
*Collins' bone spur appeared in the summer of 1968, so in this scheme he would have likely lost his assignment, too.
REVISED 5/11
Swap Collins for Young.

Nov-Dec 1968 Apollo 3/LM-3 p/crew = McDivitt, Scott, Schweickart; b/u = Conrad, Gordon, Bean

Mar 1969 Apollo 4 1st LM lunar mission test; p/crew = Schirra, Stafford*, Cunningham; b/u = Cooper, White, Mitchell
*Normal crew rotation would have put Eisele as CMP here, but under this scenario he would not have had flight experience - a requirement for CMP of the first LM lunar orbit mission. Instead, Eisele goes to AAP after his Apollo 1 backup CMP role and possibly never flies.

May 1969 Apollo 5 1st lunar landing attempt; p/crew = Grissom, Collins, Cernan; b/u = Armstrong, Lovell, Haise
REVISED 5/11 Switched Armstrong to CDR from CMP and Lovell vice versa. Lovell flew in the number two slot under Borman so why not Armstrong?

Nov 1969 Apollo 6 p/crew = Conrad, Gordon, Bean; b/u = Scott, Worden, Irwin

Jan 1970 Apollo 14 (like Apollo 20) is canceled.

Apr 1970 Apollo 7 p/crew = Armstrong, Lovell, Haise; b/u = Aldrin?, Mattingly, Duke
Assuming the same defect was present in the SM as in Apollo 13, this would have been the aborted flight.
COMMENT 5/11: Someone suggested Aldrin would not have been given a CDR position. Someone with flight experience would have to fill this spot. Would McDivitt have dropped his manager status to reenter training? Perhaps Stafford????

Sept 1970 Apollo 12 and 13 are canceled.

Jan-Feb 1971 Apollo 8 p/crew = Shepard, Roosa, Mitchell; b/u = Young, Evans, Engle

Aug 1971 Apollo 9 p/crew = Scott, Worden, Irwin; b/u = Gordon, Brand, Schmitt

Apr 1972 Apollo 10 p/crew = Aldrin/McDivitt/Stafford?*, Mattingly, Duke; b/u = Roosa, Pogue, Mitchell
*See comment added on 5/11 under Apollo 7 crew selection.

Dec 1972 Apollo 11 last lunar landing p/crew Young, Evans, Schmitt; b/u = Roosa, Pogue, Duke
Engle still gets bumped!


[This message has been edited by dtemple (edited May 10, 2005).]

[This message has been edited by dtemple (edited May 10, 2005).]

[This message has been edited by dtemple (edited May 10, 2005).]

[This message has been edited by dtemple (edited May 11, 2005).]

Tom
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posted 05-10-2005 08:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just one question...how would Apollo 2 fly to the Moon before the first unmanned Saturn 5 flight?

dtemple
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posted 05-10-2005 08:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tom:
Just one question...how would Apollo 2 fly to the Moon before the first unmanned Saturn 5 flight?

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
An obvious error on my part - obvious to everyone but me!

I will correct the error.

[This message has been edited by dtemple (edited May 10, 2005).]

dtemple
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posted 05-10-2005 08:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone know if the Apollo 4 Saturn V test was delayed due to the Apollo 1 fire? My alternate history theory sure leaves a large gap between Apollo 1 and Apollo 2. The LM was not ready to fly with a crew in 1967 and the Saturn V was yet to fly at the time Apollo 1 was to have flown. If anyone in management could have simply foreseen the gap in manned Apollo flights that was inevitable perhaps they would have slowed the process a bit and even designed the spacecraft correctly before flying - perhaps even dropping the block 1 version entirely.

J_Geenty
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posted 05-11-2005 05:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for J_Geenty   Click Here to Email J_Geenty     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Couple of quick points. Mike Collins was CMP on the Borman crew, so if he was replaced in your Alt Timeline, then Dick Gordon as the BCMP would have replaced him, not Williams. I'm also fairly sure that Conrads crew was backing up McDivitt, not Borman.

Deke wouldn't have had Mike Collins do a backup spell after his medical problems either, he'd have gone directly back into rotation. I also find it tough to believe that Deke would assigned Aldrin as a CDR.

If you are going to do a "what if" based on a successful Apollo 1 (using a Block II), then you have to also include some AAP crews that start just after the first lunar landing. You also have to detach the advanced landing missions from mainstream Apollo. Maybe something like this;


Apollo 1 Grissom Schirra
White Eisele
Chaffee Cunningham

Apollo 2 Borman Conrad
Collins Gordon
Anders Williams

Apollo 3 McDivitt Armstrong
Scott Aldrin
Schweickart Mitchell

Apollo 4 Stafford Cooper
Young Chaffee
Cunningham Haise

Apollo 5 Grissom Collins
Lovell Anders
Cernan Irwin

AAP-1 White
Eisele
Kerwin

AAP-2 Bean
Worden
Garriott

Beyond the first or second AAP mission, you really can't tell anything at all. Its also highly improbable that the missions following Apollo 1 would have looked identical to the post Apollo 7 missions.

dtemple
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posted 05-11-2005 06:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Mike Collins was CMP on the Borman crew, so if he was replaced in your Alt Timeline, then Dick Gordon as the BCMP would have replaced him, not Williams. I'm also fairly sure that Conrad's crew was backing up McDivitt, not Borman."

I think you are correct on these two points. Collins initially trained for an LMP position but that later got switched to CMP. Aldrin had trained for CMP for a while before getting bumped to LMP. You may recall that Aldrin and Collins swapped seats for a while during the Apollo 11 mission because of their cross-training. Anyway, I forgot Collins would have been acting as CMP - not LMP - in my alternative timeline and would have been replaced by Gordon, not Williams under those circumstances. In reality, McDivitt, Scott, and Schweickart were backed-up by Conrad, Gordon, and Bean. As for Aldin in a CDR position, I agree. From what I recall reading now, that probably would not have happened. Looks like my alternate timeline needs some tweaking. However, I disagree that AAP would have anything to do with the alternate timeline I proposed. I said nothing about AAP not getting trimmed back. I believe AAP would have turned into Skylab anyway. Vietnam was eating up much of the taxpayers money. Fire or no fire, the war would have escalated and cost the same. I will do a little rethinking of the timeline though. It is a fun waste of time!

I have now made some adjustments to the proposed alternate timeline.

[This message has been edited by dtemple (edited May 11, 2005).]

J_Geenty
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posted 05-12-2005 05:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for J_Geenty   Click Here to Email J_Geenty     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You might be right about AAP getting cutback, it was always vulnerable. The problem I have is in simply assigning the same mission pattern to the pre-1967 era as actually happened. There lots of potential alterations and changes being considered that involved AAP, advanced landing missions, wet-labs, lunay survey flights, ect.

I'm a great fan of "what-ifs" so please, keep working on it! One of my favourites is working out how the flights would have done without the deaths of See and Bassett and with the old Apollo 2 remaining on the books. Its in this version that you really see how Deke's plans for the corps would have worked out.

carmelo
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posted 05-12-2005 10:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Apollo 1 Grissom Schirra
White Eisele
Chaffee Cunningham

Apollo 2 Borman Conrad
Collins Gordon
Anders Williams

Apollo 3 McDivitt Armstrong
Scott Aldrin
Schweickart Mitchell

Apollo 4 Stafford Cooper
Young Chaffee
Cunningham Haise

Apollo 5 Grissom Collins
Lovell Anders
Cernan Irwin

AAP-1 White
Eisele
Kerwin

AAP-2 Bean
Worden
Garriott

[/B]


So after,Lunar Mission :Apollo 6-Conrad,Gordon Williams,Apollo 7-Armstrong Aldrin Mitchell,Apollo 8-Cooper Chaffe Haise (or Young ,and Cooper on AAP?),Apollo 9 Collins Anders Irwin ?

[This message has been edited by carmelo (edited May 12, 2005).]

J_Geenty
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posted 05-12-2005 01:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for J_Geenty   Click Here to Email J_Geenty     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, that sample doesn't even match some of the others I've done, it was just off the top of my head. The problem is we don't really know what would have followed the first lunar landing and a couple of AAP missions. It was all still to be put down in concret. I think that obviously the Conrad and Armstrong crews would have flown and then the Cooper crew would get broken up, because I can't see NASA sending Cooper to the moon anytime. If Shepard was clear to fly, he might get the job, or an earlier CDR. I'm not sure, as I said, it was totally off the top of my head.

Michael Cassutt
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posted 05-12-2005 08:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Cassutt   Click Here to Email Michael Cassutt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Okay, since this is so much fun, try this....

BASELINE JAN 1967 (no AS-205)

AS-204 FEB 1967 Grissom-White-Chaffee
b/u C mission Schirra-Eisele-Cunningham

AS-258 JAN 1968 McDivitt-Scott-Schweickrt
b/u D Stafford-Young-Cernan

AS-503 JUL 1968* Borman-Collins-Anders
b/u E Conrad-Gordon-Bean

*date even more speculative than the rest of this....

AS-504 OCT 1968 Armstrong-Aldrin-Cunningm
b/u F Grissom-Lovell-Eisele

Crews named after AS-204

AS-505 MAR 1969 Stafford-Young-Cernan
b/u F-2 Scott-Roosa-Mitchell

Absent the C-prime mission of Apollo 8, and based on expectations in the astronaut office, at least two F missions will be needed, maybe three.

AS-506 JUL 1969 Conrad-Gordon-Bean
b/u F-3 or G Collins-Anders-Haise

AS-507 OCT 1969 **Grissom-Lovell-Eisele
b/u G or G-2 Shepard-Worden-Irwin

**Grissom was going to be given a _chance_ at the first lunar landing.... the rotation would not have been wrenched out of shape to do that, since Deke had deliberately set up McDivitt, Borman and Stafford as first lunar landing commanders as well (followed closely by Armstrong and Conrad: he had six).

AAP 1 1970 Cooper-Kerwin-Weitz
b/u White-Musgrave-Chaffee

AAP 2 1970 Schweickrt-Gariott-Lousma
b/u Cunningham-Lenoir-Pogue

(Anders, Weitz, Engle, Lousma, Pogue were al in the AAP branch in 1966-67. Why not use the guys who actually wound up flying the missions?)

Some other day we can play the See-Bassett effect.

Michael Cassutt

dtemple
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posted 05-16-2005 06:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Michael, your alternative "what if" is certainly interesting. The Apollo-Saturn 205/208 mission might have been flown had the fire not happened. I had not thought of that possibility. However, the LM was not ready to fly by the date proposed. I am not sure how much of the delay was caused by the changes mandated by the AS-204 Rreview Board. Under my alternate timeline, I propose the fire did not happen because the spacecraft was designed properly from the start - not because the fire simply did not happen. Thus, the LM would have already had the fireproofing necessary in my alternate timeline. If we assume the fire delayed LM readiness for about three months, then we have the equivalent of the Apollo 9 mission flying around December 1968 which is about where I placed it in my alternative timeline. By the winter of 1968, the two Saturn V test flights had been accomplished and would have been accomplished in the event the fire did not occur. Perhaps they would have flown a bit sooner without the fire. Based on this "evidence" I would have to guess AS-205/208 (or AS-258 as it became known) would have been deleted in favor of using the Saturn V in my alternate history proposal. I also suggest that AAP would have had no effect on the proposed scenario simply because the money was not going to be available. Additionally, I suggest that even though Grissom was going to be "given a chance" at the first lunar landing, my timeline puts him in that situation. He falls into the first landing by the mission swap of Apollo 2 and 3. Without the swap he makes the second landing. No one knew for certain when the crew assignments were made which mission would actually land first. No one knew if a repeat flight test would be needed. In reality no one knew if Apollo 11 or 12 or even 13 would be first. The same would have been true without the fire. Slayton did not guarantee Grissom the first landing, simply because it was not possible to make such a guarantee. Placing Grissom in the roll of Apollo 3 backup would have been the way to give him a chance at the first landing as commander on Apollo 6. With the LM not ready, the missions of Apollo 2 and 3 get swapped; Grissom and his crew become Apollo 2 backups. The rotation puts him on Apollo 5 - the first lunar landing attempt. One point I just considerd though... In my alternate reality the first landing attempt happens about two months earlier (May instead of July). With the extra time available, is there any reason to suspect NASA would have performed one more simulation before committing to the first landing? Probably not, since as real events unfolded there was actual consideration given to making Apollo 10 the first landing attempt, so managers were wanting to land as soon as possible. I suppose if LM-4 had performed as well in the alternate timeline as it actually did on Apollo 10, there would have been no repeat flight.

#204
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posted 05-16-2005 09:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for #204   Click Here to Email #204     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dtemple:

Dec 1966 Original Apollo 2 CSM earth orbital test canceled

Feb 21, 1967 Apollo 1 prime crew = Grissom, White, Chaffee flies two-week mission; Backup crew = Schirra, Eisele, Cunningham

Mar or Apr 1967 AS-206/LM-1 unmanned test

Fall 1967 AS-501 1st unmanned Saturn V test

April 1968 AS-502 2nd unmanned Saturn V test; "pogo" problems delay next manned flight

Late Summer/Early Fall 1968 Apollo 2 1st lunar orbit; prime crew = Borman, Collins/Young*, Anders ; back-up crew = Grissom, Young, Cernan; the mission is swapped as actually happened with Apollo 8 and 9 because the LM-3 is not yet ready to fly
*Collins' bone spur appeared in the summer of 1968, so in this scheme he would have likely lost his assignment, too.
REVISED 5/11
Swap Collins for Young.

Nov-Dec 1968 Apollo 3/LM-3 p/crew = McDivitt, Scott, Schweickart; b/u = Conrad, Gordon, Bean

Mar 1969 Apollo 4 1st LM lunar mission test; p/crew = Schirra, Stafford*, Cunningham; b/u = Cooper, White, Mitchell
*Normal crew rotation would have put Eisele as CMP here, but under this scenario he would not have had flight experience - a requirement for CMP of the first LM lunar orbit mission. Instead, Eisele goes to AAP after his Apollo 1 backup CMP role and possibly never flies.

May 1969 Apollo 5 1st lunar landing attempt; p/crew = Grissom, Collins, Cernan; b/u = Armstrong, Lovell, Haise
REVISED 5/11 Switched Armstrong to CDR from CMP and Lovell vice versa. Lovell flew in the number two slot under Borman so why not Armstrong?

Nov 1969 Apollo 6 p/crew = Conrad, Gordon, Bean; b/u = Scott, Worden, Irwin

Jan 1970 Apollo 14 (like Apollo 20) is canceled.

Apr 1970 Apollo 7 p/crew = Armstrong, Lovell, Haise; b/u = Aldrin?, Mattingly, Duke
Assuming the same defect was present in the SM as in Apollo 13, this would have been the aborted flight.
COMMENT 5/11: Someone suggested Aldrin would not have been given a CDR position. Someone with flight experience would have to fill this spot. Would McDivitt have dropped his manager status to reenter training? Perhaps Stafford????

Sept 1970 Apollo 12 and 13 are canceled.

Jan-Feb 1971 Apollo 8 p/crew = Shepard, Roosa, Mitchell; b/u = Young, Evans, Engle

Aug 1971 Apollo 9 p/crew = Scott, Worden, Irwin; b/u = Gordon, Brand, Schmitt

Apr 1972 Apollo 10 p/crew = Aldrin/McDivitt/Stafford?*, Mattingly, Duke; b/u = Roosa, Pogue, Mitchell
*See comment added on 5/11 under Apollo 7 crew selection.

Dec 1972 Apollo 11 last lunar landing p/crew Young, Evans, Schmitt; b/u = Roosa, Pogue, Duke
Engle still gets bumped!


Interesting scenario. Had Apollo 1 succeeded, I don't think NASA would have jumped straight into a lunar mission at that time. They wouldn't have been quite so far behind the 8 ball where time was concerned and I think they would have tested the system once more in earth orbit, with or without the LM.
When they decided to send Apollo 8 into lunar orbit, there was a real risk that the Rooskies might get there first. This coupled with the fact that the Block 2 performed exceptionally well on its maiden flight(Apollo 7)I feel gave NASA the confidence, not to mention the balls, to send BORMAN, LOVELL & ANDERS to the moon for XMAS.
When you consider the level of success of #7,8,9&10, it is a real tribute to all who were involved in making a successful landing on the moon.
(Your crew selections were really good. It might make a good "WHAT IF" book or movie)

dtemple
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posted 05-16-2005 10:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Cassutt:


Some other day we can play the See-Bassett effect.

Michael Cassutt


Would Slayton have considered Elliot See one of the weaker guys - "too old womanish" as he put it in his autobiography - if See had not crashed his T-38? How much of his evaluation of See was based on the fatal accident? I suspect there are several guesses which could be made on how history would have been different had the original Gemini 9 landed safely at Lambert Field. We know Slayton planned to send Bassett on to Apollo - in fact he had been given an assignment (the block 1 Apollo 2 backup CMP) though it was not anounced to the public. See might have ended Gemini as a backup CDR on Gemini 12. Perhaps he would have then been sent on to AAP. We know if Bassett had lived, Buzz Aldrin would not have been on Apollo 11. Aldrin only made it onto Gemini 12 because the original GT-9 crew got killed and the original GT-10 backups moved up a notch to become the new GT-9 backup crew. Perhaps Bassett would have been on Apollo 11. Obviously without the crash, Stafford and Cernan would not have flown until Gemini 12. How would that have effected their future assignments? Since Lovell was the GT-12 commander and later flew on Apollo 8 and 13, perhaps Stafford would have been in his place at least on Apollo 8. There may be numerous plausible alternate timelines had See landed his plane safely on Feb. 28, 1966.

Michael Cassutt
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posted 05-17-2005 10:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Cassutt   Click Here to Email Michael Cassutt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
dtemple said:

<The Apollo-Saturn 205/208 mission might have been flown had the fire not happened. I had not thought of that possibility. However, the LM was not ready to fly by the date proposed. I am not sure how much of the delay was caused by the changes mandated by the AS-204 Rreview Board.

I was using a baseline of January 1967. At that time, the Block I Apollo was still the Block I Apollo -- and 258 was most definitely on the schedule.

As for the delays to LM and Saturn V caused by the fire, they're hard to quantify -- but there WERE delays, if only for financial reasons.

You can make all the assumptions you want in exercises like this. I'm simply laying out the most likely crewing schedule based on the data available in January 1967. The effect of a swap between crews and missions is fairly obvious.

<I also suggest that AAP would have had no effect on the proposed scenario simply because the money was not going to be available.

This was not the case in January 1967. Post-fire, with increasing pressure on the budget, AAP took major hits. But when Deke was looking ahead at the end of Gemini, AAP was still scheduled to follow on the heels of the first couple of landings.

<....With the extra time available, is there any reason to suspect NASA would have performed one more simulation before committing to the first landing? Probably not, since as real events unfolded there was actual consideration given to making Apollo 10 the first landing attempt, so managers were wanting to land as soon as possible. I suppose if LM-4 had performed as well in the alternate timeline as it actually did on Apollo 10, there would have been no repeat flight.

Maybe. But the decisions about a possible Apollo 10 landing and all that were made by a different NASA management in different circumstances.

Michael Cassutt

Michael Cassutt
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posted 05-17-2005 10:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Cassutt   Click Here to Email Michael Cassutt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
dtemple asked--

<Would Slayton have considered Elliot See one of the weaker guys - "too old womanish" as he put it in his autobiography - if See had not crashed his T-38? How much of his evaluation of See was based on the fatal accident?

Yes, would and did. See was considered by several of his contemporaries (though not all) to be a "California pilot" -- great in good weather, shaky in bad.

The real X factor in many of Slayton's evaluations of other astronauts is his judgment of their skill as pilots. I know of several he thought were outstanding (Grissom, Borman, McDivitt) and a couple that he found lacking (such as See).

Whether flying skill is relevant to flying in space is worth debating, but Slayton thought it was.

Assume a successful GT-9 with See and Bassett, and you have See rotating to backup command of GT-12 with either Bean or Williams as pilot, while Bassett joins Borman's crew for Apollo.

Obviously Stafford-Cernan and Lovell-Aldrin wind up in different places, too.

Michael Cassutt

dtemple
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posted 05-18-2005 01:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Cassutt:
dtemple asked--

<Would Slayton have considered Elliot See one of the weaker guys - "too old womanish" as he put it in his autobiography - if See had not crashed his T-38? How much of his evaluation of See was based on the fatal accident?

Yes, would and did. See was considered by several of his contemporaries (though not all) to be a "California pilot" -- great in good weather, shaky in bad.

Whether flying skill is relevant to flying in space is worth debating, but Slayton thought it was.

Michael Cassutt


With 20/20 hindsight, one could probably argue reasonably that a very high degree of flying skill was not needed in most cases. However, if Elliot See had been in command of Gemini 8 would the outcome have been the same? (The same question could be presented with a variety of astronauts in command.) If See was not very good at piloting in poor weather, would that weakness have made any difference in a spaceflight emergency? The high degree of flying skill - the skills found in test pilots - which Slayton valued makes sense considering the problems astronauts could have encountered. Who needs great flying ability when the spacecraft is functioning perfectly?

carmelo
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posted 05-19-2005 09:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Poor Elliot!"Old womanish" (old at 38 years!?!), "California Pilot-great in good weather,shaky in bad" (but he was not a test pilot?), very conservative,in Goldwater's way."Band of brothers"? yes,sure.

Tom
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posted 05-19-2005 03:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I still don't buy it. The remarks surrounding Elliot See came about AFTER February 28, 1966.
There's no way that Deke Slayton would assign See as commander to one of the most complicated Gemini missions in the series, if he doubted his flying skills.
His opinion of See definately changed after the accident.

Duke Of URL
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posted 05-19-2005 09:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe it did but maybe it didn't.

I can't imagine Deke Slayton giving someone a spaceflight (let alone commanding a docking mission) because he'd gotten "sentimental" about them.

He seems like a no-nonsense guy on the job. I think Mr. Slayton was obviously concerned with the safety of the astronauts and was also aware of the effect a death in space - especially from pilot error or panic - would have on the program.

Remember Elliot See was on his first flight and could very well have been responsible for Gemini's first docking. To the best of my knowledge there has been no criticism of See's performance as commander of Gemini 9. This leaves aside the Gemini peer rating because A) there is a gentlemen's agreement never to reveal the outcome and B) there are more versions of it than there were people on it.

Therefore, See must have had some qualifications or credentials that suggested him not only for flight but command on his first mission.

I think Slayton's comments reflected his sincere and long-standing opinion of See as a pilot of aircraft. Walt Cunningham related how See flew too slowly at low altitude and didn't apply flaps until prompted, so I think Slayton's opinion was 20/20 hindsight or post-mortem.

However, it's been said many times that there's much more to being an astronaut than aircraft) piloting skill. This is shown to be true by the fact Chuck Yeager wasn't qualified for selection.

There is nothing inconsistant with Slayton giving See a command at the same time as holding the opinion he lacked panache as an aircraft pilot.

Henry_Heatherbank
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posted 05-19-2005 10:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Henry_Heatherbank     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The problem with any sort of analysis of what would have happened had Apollo 1 flown successfully is that it doesn't (can't?) take into account the possibility of an AS-204 type fire, or some other disaster, in the program.

Granted, Block I had a limited life, and maybe the root cause of the AS-204 fire was confined to the circumstances involving that particular spacecraft and wouldn't have affected the second Block I flight or any Block IIs. But I can't help thinking that if it hadn't been the Apollo 1 guys getting killed, then maybe another crew would have suffered some other fate along the line, possibly very early in the program given the problems that were faced in certifying the then-most complex spacecraft ever, at the end of 1966/start of 1967.

The Fire jolted everyone into being far more diligent and cautious on the way to the Moon, so on a "worst case" scenario I wonder if, where or when an accident would have occurred, had Apollo 1 flown successfully? Who knows; impossible to say.

I do recall Gilruth getting edgy about losing a landing crew to a failed LM ascent engine much later in the program, to the point where he would have been prepared to cut losses at 13 (maybe a little later, say after 14) and not fly the rest of the program.

Also in some senses, the programn was lucky to avoid a solar flare. There has been lots of talk about the scheduling of lunar flights, mostly concerning lighting conditions at the landing site on arrival. Is anyone aware whether any of the forward planning took into account periods of solar activity? Pretty hard to see how this could have been the case, given the long lead times, and management influences, needed to plan a successful landing mission. Just wondering?

Having said all that, I have found the discussion of the various permutations and combinations of crews to be facsinating, and I appreciate that many of those permutations are based on the assumption that no disaster would have occurred at all. Many thanks to everyone who has dragged out old notes of their postulations!!

Michael Cassutt
Member

Posts: 263
From: Studio City CA USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 05-19-2005 11:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Cassutt   Click Here to Email Michael Cassutt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Was Deke's judgment of See's flying skills biased by what happened? To some extent that's inescapable -- it's not hard to imagine a pilot remembering a deceased colleague's weaknesses after a tragedy.

That said, Deke never expressed any reservations about either Freeman or Williams.

As for why See got a critical flight assignment when Deke harbored doubts about his skills with a T-38, Duke's point is spot on: there was more to being an astronaut than flying airplanes.

Michael Cassutt

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