Space News
space history and artifacts articles

Messages
space history discussion forums

Sightings
worldwide astronaut appearances

Resources
selected space history documents

Websites
related space history websites

  collectSPACE: Messages
  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  MA-10

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   MA-10
KenDavis
Member

Posts: 178
From: W.Sussex United Kingdom
Registered: May 2003

posted 06-22-2005 04:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KenDavis   Click Here to Email KenDavis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Any thoughts on what would have happened if Deke had flown MA-7 as originally planned? I'm particularly thinking in terms of what would have happened to Gordon Cooper. Would there have been a MA-10 flight (not necessarily the 3-day flight that was suggested, but maybe just another 34 hour flight like MA-9), or was there only ever going to be four Atlas flights?

If this was the case do people think Gordo would have still flown Gemini 5?

KC Stoever
Member

Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 06-22-2005 07:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ken--

There was a lively thread (Delta 7/Aurora 7) on part of the topic you propose here:
http://collectspace.com/ubb/Forum29/HTML/000300.html

My sense, regarding MA-10 and in fact on all Mercury flights is that Gilruth et al. made Project Mercury up as they went along in response to Sputnik. They were surprised only once: when after Shepard's flight, JFK said "Let's go to the moon."

Interviewing and briefing astronaut candidates, at the Pentagon, in 1959, NASA never specified the number of flights and pointedly asked the volunteers how they'd respond in the event they were NOT assigned to a single flight. Would they still sign on as astronauts? Would they still want to help?

Sure, everyone said.

In short, in 1959 and 1961 Gilruth didn't know how many spaceflights were in the cards. No one knew how many flights there would be. But seven candidates for flight seemed like the right number, given the caliber of the candidates and the abundance of talent.

My sense is that NASA thought they'd send about half of them into space--the other half would serve as alternates.

Had Deke taken MA-7, that means Wally Schirra, his backup, may not have gotten the follow-on flight (MA-8). Glenn's alternate, Carpenter, may have gotten the nod for MA-8, while Schirra might have snagged MA-9.

Forget about MA-10. It wasn't going to happen. Mercury was a success well before then. Gilruth was a public servant not into wasting taxpayers' money on proven technology and proven human factors.

Best regards,

Kris Stoever

KC Stoever
Member

Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 06-22-2005 08:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ken,

I forgot: As the linked thread notes, your what-if assumes Deke would have flown a problem-free MA-7--is that right? Or, if he encountered MA-7's problems, Slayton would have done as well as Carpenter?

We know how a healthy Carpenter managed MA-7. We will never know how Slayton--and Project Mercury itself--would have managed had he flown in Carpenter's place.

carmelo
Member

Posts: 792
From: Messina, Sicilia, Italia
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 06-22-2005 08:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In my opinion if Slayton had flown on MA-7,Gordon Cooper first mission would have been GT-3

Larry McGlynn
Member

Posts: 805
From: Boston, MA
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 06-22-2005 09:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
KC Stoever wrote

"My sense, regarding MA-10 and in fact on all Mercury flights is that Gilruth et al. made Project Mercury up as they went along in response to Sputnik. They were surprised only once: when after Shepard's flight, JFK said, "Let's go to the moon."

NASA was not taken by surprise by JFK's announcement. This seems to be common myth that is continually perpetuated throughout the years. It makes great copy (even in FTETTM series), but the truth is that manned Moon landings had been discussed during the last year of Eisenhower's presidency. During a meeting of the cabinet on 12-20-60, the FY 1962 budget for NASA was discussed along with the potential cost of a manned landing on the Moon with costs ranging from $26 to $38 Billion (Eisenhower wanted to know what type of space program could be had for $1 Billion).

On April 13, 1961, Robert Seamans and George Low testified before the House Manned Space Subcommittee and advised the committee that it was possible to land a man on the Moon by 1967 (1967 was the 50th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution and it was common thinking in American political circles that the USSR would attempt a lunar landing in that year).

JFK asked LBJ to report on NASA's ability the time line required to land a man on the Moon and safely return them to Earth.

Remember the Saturn was in construction by this time and the F1 engine had been on the design table since 1955. The necessary pieces of the puzzle were in place by the time LBJ returned with his report in May of 1961.

Dr. Richard Battin of Draper Labs had already lead a team that determined how to navigate to the planets in 1959 and Draper had actually designed a Mars probe to use orbital mechanics to fly to Mars, take one picture and return to Earth. So the parts were coming together as JFK was attempting to determine whether the Apollo Project as feasible.

The basic tenets of the Mercury Project were submitted as results in a study on Manned Spaceflight by George Low completed on February 7, 1961.

As for the MA-10 mission, Dr. Seamens has recently written, "Were we planning a Mercury 10 mission? This possibility had never been presented to me in detail, but I was dead set against it. We had jury-rigged our way with Mercury and had successfully completed our goals. Why risk a mission of several days on the Mercury spacecraft when Gemini was designed for missions of two weeks or more?"1

Most of this information is in the NASA history archives, but I did get a chance to interview Dr. Seamans recently. NASA was already studying our ability to fly to the Moon by the end of the decade. They just needed the vision and the challenge.
--------------------------------------------
1.Seamans, Dr. Robert: Project Apollo: The Tough Decisions, NASA Monograph No37

------------------
Larry McGlynn
A Tribute to Apollo

KC Stoever
Member

Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 06-23-2005 10:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Larry,

Fair enough--not everyone at NASA was surprised by Kennedy's announcement that the country would embark on a lunar program.

Webb knew about it, for example, and was focused on how to get the money for it well before JFK's announcement. Gilruth in his NASM oral history, however, recalls he was "aghast" to hear the president address Congress. He had been briefing the president (while Webb had been working the funding end) about possible lunar missions (and how the Americans could score a much-needed space first). But he was still, as he says, "aghast."

Not in a bad way. Only in the sense that, "Oh, heck! Now we're publicly committed to a very difficult goal."

Larry McGlynn
Member

Posts: 805
From: Boston, MA
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 06-23-2005 03:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kris,

I was thinking about my research last night and came to the same conclusion. NASA had a case of "Be careful of what you wish for."

Ted Sorinsen had sent the space portion of Kennedy's May 25, 1961 Special State of the Union speech to Jim Webb for his review. The speech originally set a goal of landing a man on the Moon by 1967. Webb requested a change to the end of decade.

Webb, Dryden and Seamans, who were oftened called "Triad" of Administrator, Deputy Administrator and Associate Administrator were aware of the speech and the goal, but one wonders what they thought once they were committed.

------------------
Larry McGlynn
A Tribute to Apollo

KC Stoever
Member

Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 06-23-2005 04:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
[bold]The speech originally set a goal of landing a man on the Moon by 1967. Webb requested a change to the end of decade.
[/b]

The Sorensen-Webb collaboration on this portion of the speech is interesting! And Gilruth refers to this problematic "1967" deadline too, in his oral history. It would be "really hard" to put a man on the moon by then, he said. Which is why I suppose they ended up with the more forgiving ". . . before this decade is out."

[This message has been edited by KC Stoever (edited June 23, 2005).]

KenDavis
Member

Posts: 178
From: W.Sussex United Kingdom
Registered: May 2003

posted 06-24-2005 03:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KenDavis   Click Here to Email KenDavis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks KC and Larry for your comments. Given that there seem to have been serious discussions about landing on the moon by 1967 that makes my original question all the more relevant.

I’ve read ’For Spacious Skies’ (great book KC) and believe that whoever had flown MA-7, would have run into the same problems re the fuel usage. I like to think Deke would have completed the mission will no ill-effects – apart from the technical ones – which means come the Autumn of 1963 NASA would have been faced with the following situation:

·The possibility that the Russians were planning to go to the moon by 1967
·A MA-10 capsule ready to go
·A trained Mercury astronaut (Gordo) ready to go
·An eighteen month delay before Gemini would fly

Why not fly Gordo on MA-10? With only four orbital flights there should have been plenty of questions still to answer, if only to extent the baseline of spaceflight knowledge in preparation for Gemini. I think MA-9 proved a three-day Mercury flight was not possible, but why not just fly a 24-36 hr duration flight?.

I’m also thinking if Deke had flown MA-7 then he would have still be in the rotation for Gemini & Apollo – who knows – Deke as the first on the moon?

KC Stoever
Member

Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 07-01-2005 11:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just remembered.

Regarding MA-10, there was a post-MA-9 gathering at the White House (1963), when Gordo was honored and--afterwards, for cocktails--six of the seven Mercury astronauts and their wives were entertained by the Kennedys.

(For Rene Carpenter's account, see the chapter, "The Color of Fire," in Carpenter's bio, FOR SPACIOUS SKIES.)

Rene Carpenter reminds me that Shepard used this rare opportunity to lobby for MA-10--and the lunar program.

Webb found out about the lobbying effort later and was furious.

Oh, and . . . on edit: The Glenns were not present either for the ceremony or later, for cocktails (I have a photo of the assembled couples!). They were in Japan on a goodwill tour.

[This message has been edited by KC Stoever (edited July 01, 2005).]

[This message has been edited by KC Stoever (edited July 01, 2005).]

Larry McGlynn
Member

Posts: 805
From: Boston, MA
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 07-01-2005 02:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Webb tended to take insubordination seriously. Brainerd Holmes, the initial Apollo Project Mgr, lobbied JFK to apply alternate funding to the manned lunar landing in order to speed up the process and land a man on the Moon by 1967.

Webb's vision for NASA was to establish a preeminence in Space. The lunar landing was part of the entire program, but not the entire reason for NASA.

Brainard Holmes continued to press the issue. JFK was a proponent of getting to the Moon quickly. Webb had to produce a report that advised the President of the reasons why NASA had to take a multipronged approach to space exploration.

Once JFK agreed to the Webb view, Holmes was asked to resign. Joe Shea was his replacement.

------------------
Larry McGlynn
A Tribute to Apollo

KC Stoever
Member

Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 07-01-2005 02:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fascinating, Larry.

Thanks.

Kris

lb206
Member

Posts: 48
From:
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 07-06-2005 08:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lb206   Click Here to Email lb206     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ok i'm new here but space history is a passion of mine ezpecialy living near NASA Langley the hiome of Project Mercury. As for how many flights were planned for mercury. Well at one point atleast 14 were planned. Originaly eachastronaut was to make one suborbuital flight and 1 orbital flight. Several things changed this. The kennedy announcement being one of them. This ment the program needed to be accelerated. Also the fact that Russia launched Titov into orbit for a whole day when we hawd about 32 minutes of space fluight time between 2 astronauts. America was looking bad. The success of the 2 suborbital flights and the pressure of the russian successes convinced NASA to cancel the remaining 5 Redstone flights and pussh onto the orbital flights using the Atlas.

All times are CT (US)

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | The Source for Space History & Artifacts

Copyright 1999-2012 collectSPACE.com All rights reserved.


Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.47a





advertisement