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  Six Mercury flights, seven Mercury astronauts

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Author Topic:   Six Mercury flights, seven Mercury astronauts
rchappel
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From: Texas
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posted 04-16-2006 08:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rchappel   Click Here to Email rchappel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If Deke Slayton had been able to fly, would there have been seven Mercury missions, or would one of them just been the odd man out? Who would it have been?

Aztecdoug
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posted 04-16-2006 08:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I asked John Glenn about this exact question during his book signing tour way back when, 2000 I think it was (after all I had about three hours in line trying to think of something smart to ask). Anyway, Glenn's reply to me was that they would have had a mission for Deke.

I guess in retrospect... Deke would have had his mission early on, the guys at the end of the line would have had different missions.

User997
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posted 04-18-2006 12:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for User997     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Didn't I read somewhere that at the end of the Mercury program they had an extra capsule (I assume it would've been Deke's) and Shepard was trying to get the bosses to send him back up in it for a long duration spaceflight?

mjanovec
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posted 04-18-2006 01:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have also heard about the extra capsule and Shepard's desire to fly again. I think Shepard supposedly make his case to Kennedy, but Kennedy said he would follow whatever NASA brass decided was best for the program. At the time, it was deemed more important to move on to Gemini than to fly another Mercury mission.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-18-2006 01:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Shepard was so enthusiastic about flying the "extra" capsule or Mercury Capsule 15B that he had "Freedom 7 II" painted on its side. Today, the spacecraft is on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

Here is what This New Ocean has to say about the Mercury 10 mission:

On June 6 and 7, 1963, Brainerd Holmes, Gilruth, Walter Williams, and Kleinknecht met with Administrator Webb, Hugh L. Dryden, and Seamans in Washington to make a final decision on whether to fly an MA-10 mission. President Kennedy had clearly left the decision up to NASA. Webb listened thoughtfully to the presentations of each NASA official, and although both he and President Kennedy had heard the Mercury astronauts' plea for one more Mercury mission, Administrator Webb announced before the Senate space committee on June 12, 1963, that "we will not have another Mercury flight."61 It was to be 22 months before another American manned space flight.

carmelo
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posted 04-18-2006 02:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In 1959-60 were programmed four or five Mercury sub orbital missions, and again seven Mercury orbital flights. All the guys would have had fly more times.

After MR-3, Kennedy's lunar landing speech and start of Mercury Mark-II (Gemini) all changed.

If Deke had flown on Delta 7, the last Mercury mission would have been the Wally Schirra's Sigma 7 in May 1963. Gordo the more young astronaut in Group 1 would have had wait GT-3.

John Charles
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posted 04-18-2006 08:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Charles     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Shepard was so enthusiastic about flying the "extra" capsule or Mercury Capsule 15B that he had "Freedom 7 II" painted on its side.
I know things were less bureaucratic, formalized and regimented in those days, but how in the heck did an astronaut not assigned to a mission authorize an alteration in the configuration (namely, a paint job) on a spacecraft also not assigned to that same mission?

This sounds like one of those apocryphal stories... But I also cannot imagine how else that logo was authorized to be painted onto that spacecraft. Especially recalling the resistance that Cece Bibby encountered when she was actually authorized to paint a logo on Glenn's spacecraft.

ejectr
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posted 04-19-2006 06:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My guess is that following the previous rotation through the seven, Shepard figured the next flight was his, seeing how he and Grissom were the only ones who hadn't orbited.

Also, being the first American in space probably had its weight of influence as well as Shepard's intimidatingly, suggestive ways.

Matt T
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posted 04-19-2006 07:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Shepard doesn't seem to have been alone in thinking this flight was a genuine possibility.

Excerpt from the oral history of Jim McBarron (head of Space Suit section, Crew Systems Division) -

A lot of people don't realize that there was an MA-10 Mercury flight scheduled at one point, and we were working on an improved suit for that flight that provided increased comfort and increased stay time on orbit for the crew member... Actually, it was an MA-10 suit made by B.F.Goodrich.

John Charles
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posted 04-19-2006 09:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Charles     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Matt T:
Shepard doesn't seem to have been alone in thinking this flight was a genuine possibility....
Clearly it wasn't Shepard's idea alone, given that it was seriously considered, even to the point of being broached to JFK.

But about "Freedon 7 II"... The standard story aside, does anyone know the provenance of the painted logo on the side of spacecraft 15B? When did it first appear? I had a brief email exchange with Dwayne Day, who said that NASA's arrangement with the Smithsonian came after someone observed a Gemini capsule being paraded through the streets somewhere. Isn't it possible that the paint job was applied some time after the spacecraft was "decommissioned" but before it came under the control of the Smithsonian?

Did anyone ever ask Shepard about it?

spaced out
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posted 04-20-2006 08:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not directly related to MA-10 but I found in interesting that in Gus Grissom's "Gemini" book he mentioned that he believed that there would probably be further Gemini flights after the Apollo missions.

I guess he was thinking of future orbital missions where a two man Gemini-Titan would be more efficient than an Apollo-Saturn I launch.

Obviousman
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posted 04-21-2006 01:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Obviousman   Click Here to Email Obviousman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Was he thinking about the GEMINI-BLUE missions?

FFrench
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posted 08-10-2006 09:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by John Charles:
But about "Freedon 7 II"... The standard story aside, does anyone know the provenance of the painted logo on the side of spacecraft 15B? When did it first appear?
I'm still most curious about this myself. Looking through some photos I took in DC last year, I see that the display panel accompanying the spacecraft says:
Reflecting Shepard's hope of flying in space again, he had the name 'Freedom 7 II' painted on the spacecraft in tribute to his historic 1961 capsule, "Freedom 7."
However, it's been pointed out that the Smithsonian had an incorrect text panel accompanying this spacecraft when it was at Ames, so this one might not be correct, either.

I hope someone with more access to archives and inside info. than me will dig out the answer someday soon...

dtemple
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posted 08-11-2006 11:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spaced out:
...he believed that there would probably be further Gemini flights after the Apollo missions.
He must have been referring to the U.S. Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL), though there were other proposals for continuing the use of Gemini spacecraft.

robsouth
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posted 08-12-2006 02:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interestingly, I found this on the NASA Mercury Chronology website:
Scott Carpenter told an audience at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' Second Manned Space Flight Meeting in Dallas, Texas, that the Mercury program would culminate with the 1-day mission of Gordon Cooper. (22 April 1963)

KC Stoever
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posted 08-12-2006 06:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My guess is that if you got hold of all the astronaut speeches at the time — spring-fall 1963 — every speech would hit certain talking points. One of those points, the inevitable end of Project Mercury. Carpenter delivered a couple of them.

I do know that Al Shepard vigorously lobbied a genial President Kennedy at the White House for Gordo's postflight White House ceremony. Rene Carpenter heard him.

And James Webb had a fit. An absolute fit. About Al's effort to wrangle another Mercury flight.

John Glenn, as it happens, couldn't be there to lobby for the flight himself. He was in Japan with Annie on a goodwill tour.

I hope to have pictures up of this informal cocktail hour at the White House, May 1963 — a party of CCG-SSS — as Carpenter's website goes up.

John Glenn coined this mnemonic, by the way, for the seven: CCGGSSS. Carpenter Cooper Glenn Grissom Schirra Shepard Slayton. CCGGSSS.

John Charles
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posted 08-12-2006 10:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Charles     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The NASA history (SP-4001) does not mention the naming or painting of Spacecraft 15B, as far as I can tell.

Astronautix does give Shepard credit for the name-painting. But, of its references that I checked, Baker's History of Manned Space Flight says nothing about it, and even says that any plans for flights after Cooper's MA-9 were cancelled before Schirra's flight in September 1962.

Another source for the Astronautix article that I checked online, the Mercury One-Day Mission final report of June 1963, mentions only that Spacecraft 15B was being prepared as a backup to MA-9, and that all such preparations were discontinued on June 15, 1963.

(Note that Astronautix is a rich source of fascinating information, but that — as with many Internet sources — it must be taken with a grain of salt.)

Clearly, someone painted the name "Freedom 7-II" onto the flank of Spacecraft 15B. I saw it and photographed it myself, several years ago when it was on display at NASA Ames. But I do not think that the evidence is strong that Shepard was directly involved, and in fact I think a case can be made that he was not.

I would love for someone to point me to a 1963 NASA document, or a 1963 newspaper article, or a 1963 photograph, that establishes that Spacecraft 15B was so adorned at that time.

ColinBurgess
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posted 06-13-2013 08:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just reinvigorating this post from several years ago, I was wondering if anyone has since solved the question posed of who painted the words "Freedom 7 II" on the side of the unflown Mercury spacecraft now on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center?

Headshot
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posted 06-14-2013 08:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Getting back to the original intent of this thread, with a slight variation.

Had Deke Slayton flown MA-7, would Carpenter have flown MA-8 and Schirra MA-9, leaving Cooper odd man out unless NASA flew MA-10? Or would Schirra have flown MA-8, Cooper MA-9 leaving Carpenter as Tail-End Charlie?

Also, we know there was another Mercury Capsule, 15B, but was there an additional Atlas booster assigned to Mercury as well?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-14-2013 08:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Headshot:
...was there an additional Atlas booster assigned to Mercury as well?
Yes, at least it has been reported that Atlas no. 144-D had been assigned.

Fra Mauro
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posted 06-14-2013 09:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's been 20 years since Deke passed on...

Headshot
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posted 06-14-2013 09:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Yes, at least it has been reported that Atlas no. 144-D had been assigned.
I am curious as to the source of your info about Atlas 144-D. I wonder if there is any way to determine to what mission NASA re-assigned the Atlas? Lunar (Ranger), planetary (Mariner or Discovery series), Gemini Agena launch vehicle etc.?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-14-2013 10:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've seen it noted in several places. For example, "Into That Silent Sea" by Burgess and French notes 144-D as tentatively assigned on page 285.

Headshot
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posted 06-14-2013 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Robert.

PeterO
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posted 06-14-2013 10:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for PeterO   Click Here to Email PeterO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Atlas 144D is not listed in the list of Atlas launches at Jonathan's Space Home Page. This may mean that it stayed with USAF and was not used as a launch vehicle.

EDIT: Now I realize Jon's list shows the GATV boosters by 4-digit serial numbers, not the USAF designation, so 144D would not show as such.

mach3valkyrie
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posted 06-14-2013 01:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mach3valkyrie   Click Here to Email mach3valkyrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From what information I've gathered over the years, it appears each Mercury astronaut would have gotten a flight. Shepard wanted to fly MA-10 (a purported 3 day mission?) because he knew the hardware was available and he had only logged a 15 minute flight. Can't blame a guy for tryin'!

Shepard was going to fly the first Gemini with Tom Stafford had he not been stricken with inner ear problems.

Delta7
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posted 06-15-2013 09:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I find it very hard to believe that the decision to add a MA-10 flight would have been driven by the desire to make sure each Mercury astronaut got to fly.

If Slayton had flown MA-7, my guess is that Carpenter would have flown MA-8 and Schirra would have finished the program on MA-9. Cooper would have been the only un-flown astronaut at the end of Project Mercury.

At that point I think he either would have returned to active Air Force duty or set his sights on an early Gemini flight assignment.

Headshot
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posted 06-18-2013 05:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
... or perhaps Carpenter's hypothetical MA-8 flight might have gone the way his real MA-7 flight did (using too much attitude gas, etc) thus causing the flight to end before 6 orbits. Then Wally Schirra's MA-9 flight would have been a repeat 6-orbit mission and Cooper would have flown clean-up on MA-10, a 22-orbit mission.

The mind boggles at the possibilities.

moorouge
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posted 06-19-2013 01:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Headshot:
... or perhaps Carpenter's hypothetical MA-8 flight might have gone the way his real MA-7 flight did (using too much attitude gas, etc) thus causing the flight to end before 6 orbits.

Why, with all the true facts available, is this myth still being banded about.

Yes, Carpenter did use a lot of fuel following the requirements of the flight plan but this was recognised early in the flight and corrected. And yes, he did make a mistake preparing for re-entry by using two attitude control systems.

However, despite all this, if one examines the flight records in detail, Glenn ran out of fuel before Carpenter during re-entry.

Lou Chinal
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posted 07-19-2013 02:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just want to add capsule's numbers 17 and 19 were also not used. As far as the paint job goes; the capsule were traditional painted on the launch pad. Since #15 never got that far, I also wonder who and when it was painted.

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