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  Apollo crew assignments and their backups

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Author Topic:   Apollo crew assignments and their backups
Tom
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posted 07-15-2006 11:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a question regarding Apollo crews that maybe someone here can shed some light on.

Back in 1967, McDivitt, Scott and Scweickart, with Conrad, Gordon and Bean as backup were assigned to Apollo 8. Borman, Collins and Anders, with Armstrong, Lovell and Aldrin as backup were assigned to Apollo 9.

When the McDivitt and Borman crews switched flights, their back-up crews stayed with them.

Two years later... Shepard, Roosa and Mitchell (Young, Swigert and Duke backups) assigned to Apollo 13 and Lovell, Mattingly and Haise (Cernan, Evans and Engle backups) assigned to Apollo 14.

When the Shepard and Lovell crews swapped missions, their back-up crews did not. Any reason why?

mjanovec
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posted 07-15-2006 11:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My guess is that Apollo 8 and Apollo 9 were very different types of missions, with different objectives. Therefore, the crews (and their backups) needed to train on those specific objectives. When the missions (and their objectives were swapped) in the order they came, so were the crews.

For example, McDivitt and his crew (and their backups) were training to take the lunar module on it's first flight. Whether that happened on Apollo 8 or Apollo 9 didn't really matter as long as McDivitt and his crew got to fly the mission... as they were the ones in the best position to successfully complete the mission.

For Apollo 13 and 14, objectives didn't change, the crews did... as people thought Al Shepard needed a little more time to train. So Apollo 13 with Al Shepard, that was slated to go to Fra Mauro, was given to Lovell's crew instead. There was no need to change the backups, since the backups on Apollo 13 were also training for the Fra Mauro mission.

Ironically, the problems on Apollo 13 pushed the Fra Mauro landing to the next mission, with Al Shepard in command. So he got his Fra Mauro landing after all.

Tom
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posted 07-15-2006 11:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Actually, the original Apollo 8 and 9 missions were very similar... Apollo 8 testing the lunar module in low Earth orbit, with Apollo 9 doing the same in a higher orbit.

The missions changed drastically when NASA decided to send Apollo 8 into lunar orbit.

LM-12
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posted 03-26-2013 10:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lovell replaced Collins before the Apollo 8/9 crews were swapped. Is that correct?

In other words, the Borman, Collins and Anders crew was always Apollo 9, and the Borman, Lovell and Anders crew was briefly Apollo 9 before the switch to Apollo 8.

Fra Mauro
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posted 03-27-2013 06:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think Collins had surgery in July 1968 before the mission change occured.

robsouth
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posted 03-27-2013 01:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Alan Shepard was never officially assigned to Apollo 13 and James Lovell was never officially assigned to Apollo 14. Therefore when the prime and backup crews were announced for both missions at the beginning of August 69, no one had swapped missions and Young had never been Shepard's backup and Cernan had never been Lovell's backup.

December 66 Apollo 2 crew was announced as McDivitt's crew with Stafford's crew as backups. Apollo 3 was announced as Borman's crew with Conrad's crew as backups.

Following the Apollo 1 fire, Stafford's crew moved to the backup role on Apollo 7 in May 67. November 67, Apollo 8 was announced as McDivitt's crew with Conrad's crew as backups and Apollo 9 was announced as Borman's crew with Armstrong's crew as backups.

When the Apollo 8 and 9 crews swapped missions, their backups swapped too.

Delta7
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posted 03-27-2013 01:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think one difference was that the McDivitt/Conrad and Borman/Armstrong crews had already trained in tandem for quite some time when the flights sequence was changed. With Apollo 13 and 14 there was no mission-specific training involved before the final August 1969 announcement. The pairing of prime and backup crews wasn't as critical so long as you had qualified crews for each, and at that time all 4 crews were presumably equally qualified. There was no compelling reason to switch the backup crew sequence, only the prime crews in order to accommodate Al Shepard.

Delta7
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posted 03-27-2013 01:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Presumably Deke Slayton did submit Shepard/Roosa/Mitchell for Apollo 13 with Young/Swigert/Duke as backups shortly after Apollo 10. It was because upper management rejected the choice of Shepard that there was a delay until August, while Slayton re-submitted the Apollo 13 along with the Apollo 14 assignments, that were ultimately announced together in August 1969.

robsouth
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posted 03-27-2013 03:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When assigning Young to the Apollo 13 backup commander's role, Deke Slayton was simply following the normal rotation because Young had been the CMP on Apollo 10. The same rotation would have seen the Apollo 11 CMP rotate to the Apollo 14 backup commander's role.

LM-12
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posted 03-28-2013 11:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by robsouth:
December 66 Apollo 2 crew was announced as McDivitt's crew with Stafford's crew as backups.

That was AS-205/208, a manned CSM launch followed by an unmanned LM launch about a day later. Were the McDivitt/Stafford crews the only crews ever assigned to a dual Saturn IB launch mission?

Tom
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posted 03-28-2013 02:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LM-12:
Were the McDivitt/Stafford crews the only crews ever assigned to a dual Saturn IB launch mission?
Yes... Apollo 3 was scheduled to be the first manned launch using the Saturn V.

golddog
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posted 03-29-2013 05:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for golddog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Fra Mauro:
I think Collins had surgery in July 1968 before the mission change occured.
Mike Collins had surgery to correct a spinal disc growth in 1968 which saw him removed from the crew of Apollo 8 and replaced by Lovell. Collins was then named on the 11 crew in January 1969, with Anders being his back up.

LM-12
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posted 03-29-2013 10:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LM-12:
Lovell replaced Collins before the Apollo 8/9 crews were swapped. Is that correct?
I see that in "Lost Moon" on page 34, Lovell mentions that Borman, Lovell and Anders would "pilot Apollo 9" on a higher-altitude version of the previous Apollo 8 flight of McDivitt, Scott and Schweickart with the CSM/LM.

So Collins was never on the Apollo 8 crew because Lovell replaced Collins when it was still the Apollo 9 crew. Apollo 9 was still an "E" mission when Collins was dropped.

The Borman, Lovell and Anders crew switched from the Apollo 9 "E" mission to the new Apollo 8 "C-prime" mission. The McDivitt, Scott and Schweickart crew switched from the Apollo 8 "D" mission to the Apollo 9 "D" mission.

LM-12
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posted 04-09-2013 05:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An August 1968 article in MSC Roundup mentions that James Lovell "was named to replace Michael Collins as prime command module pilot for the third manned Apollo mission" scheduled for early 1969. At the time, the planned third manned Apollo mission was the original Apollo 9 "E" mission.

Paul78zephyr
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posted 11-19-2017 06:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is this essentially accurate? From Brandon Blatcher on Quora:
Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell were originally the backup crew for Apollo 9 and thus supposed to fly on Apollo 12. But the crews of Apollo 8 and 9 were swapped, along with the backup crews. Otherwise, all things being equal, a guy named Pete Conrad would have been first on the Moon.

So now you got Armstrong, Aldrin, and Lovell serving as backups for Apollo 8. Then the Command Module Pilot for the mission, Mike Collins, had medical complications and had to be bumped from the crew. So Lovell moved up to the main crew and rookie Fred Haise took his place on the backup crew.

While Apollo 8 is flying around the Moon, Deke Slayton calls Neil Armstrong into his office to discuss Apollo 11 assignments. Armstrong is set to be Commander, it's just a matter of choosing the other two members. Aldrin and Haise had been with Armstrong on the backup crew. But Mike Collins' medical complications were over, so Slayton wanted to put him in the next available slot, which was as on Apollo 11. Armstrong agreed. Then Slayton brought up Aldrin and how other Commanders had issues with various questions he was always pursuing, viewing it as undermining their authority. If that was the case, Slayton said, then he'd offer Lovell in place of Aldrin. Armstrong thought it over for a day and then decided to stick with Aldrin, because he wasn't bothered by his questions and felt Lovell, who would be on fourth space flight, deserved his own command.

Flyboy7077
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posted 11-20-2017 08:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Flyboy7077   Click Here to Email Flyboy7077     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another interesting piece of trivia, Lovell was always the CMP, whether it was on the Armstrong or Borman crew. Thus, Aldrin was the LM pilot when Lovell was on the backup crew, but when Lovell went to the Apollo 8 prime crew and was replaced by Haise, Aldrin became the CMP as (Haise has only trained as an LMP, and, you couldn't be a CMP if it was your rookie flight).

When Collins bumped Haise, Aldrin went back to being the LMP. However, because Buzz had been training as the CMP for liftoff it's why he was the only LMP to launch in the center seat as he did the CMP work for the launch phase. Collins takes over as CMP after they reached orbit.

Mike Dixon
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posted 11-21-2017 05:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great background.

Fra Mauro
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posted 11-21-2017 06:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's interesting how this type of assignment swap (Aldrin acts as the CMP until orbit, and Collins sits in the right hand seat), only occured on the first lunar landing mission.

Rusty53
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posted 11-21-2017 09:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rusty53     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Since Aldrin had trained as CMP in his backup role, the logic was to not "waste" that training. Collins could train as LMP for the launch. Once in orbit they would assume their normal roles from that point on in the mission

LM-12
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posted 11-21-2017 10:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Paul78zephyr:
Is this essentially accurate?
Well, no. I'm pretty sure the Collins-Lovell swap came before the Apollo 8-9 swap, unless someone can show otherwise.

Michael Cassutt
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posted 11-21-2017 12:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Cassutt   Click Here to Email Michael Cassutt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Collins had surgery on August 8, 1968, and within a week or ten days George Low had developed (and began winning approval for) the Apollo 8 mission — with Slayton informing Borman and McDivitt of the decision. None of this was announced to the public until late October 1968.

So yes, Collins was technically out before the Apollo 8/9 swap was announced, but the real timing was much closer.

Given this minor note, I would call the account "essentially correct."

LM-12
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posted 11-21-2017 01:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is what Fred Haise said in his JSC Oral History interview:
When I was assigned to Apollo 8, yes, it was a high-orbit rendezvous (I think 4,000 mile apogee) with a lunar module. And we — I don't remember how long we were in that training (probably a month) when the decision was made by NASA management to forget the lunar module (it wasn't going to be ready) and turned it into a lunar mission using only the command and service module. This incidentally was the toughest training cycle I went through of the four in Apollo as far as the time squeeze to get ready.

Paul78zephyr
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posted 11-22-2017 05:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Cassutt:
I would call the account "essentially correct."
Thank you Michael Cassutt. (By the way, I have read "Deke!" and "We Have Capture" - loved both.)

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