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
  Command of the first moon landing mission

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

next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   Command of the first moon landing mission
RichieB16
Member

Posts: 457
From: Oregon
Registered: Feb 2003

posted 06-26-2008 10:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RichieB16   Click Here to Email RichieB16     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have been reading the Neil Armstrong biography "First Man" and it mentioned the meeting Deke Slayton had with a select group of astronauts letting them know that those men would be making the moon landings. He also laid out the first three Apollo crews and how the program would progress.

The D mission (Apollo 8) was McDivitt's earth orbital lunar module test flight mission with Conrad, Gordon and Williams (Bean) as the backup crew.

The E mission (Apollo 9) was Borman's crew with Armstrong's crew as the backup.

Had the LM been ready and McDivitt and Borman not switched missions, that would have put McDivitt's backup crew as the prime crew for the first G mission.

So, I have never really thought this out before, but I assume Deke had a plan when he picked the crews. If things hadn't changed, Conrad would have been in line for command of Apollo 11. Am I correct in my interpretation of this?

Fra Mauro
Member

Posts: 1412
From: Bethpage, N.Y.
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 06-26-2008 11:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Deke may have had a preference for who walked first but he always knew there was an element of chance/luck involved, especially with the Apollo flights before the first moon landing attempt.

I think he was comfortable with a handful of astronauts making the first steps on the moon. Conrad would have been a great pitchman for NASA if he had been on Apollo 11.

bklyn55
Member

Posts: 240
From: Milford, CT
Registered: Dec 2014

posted 04-06-2015 03:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bklyn55   Click Here to Email bklyn55     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I heard/read (somewhere!) that Gus Grissom was being "groomed" to be the first man to set foot on the moon. Is this true, and if so/not, where can I find this info?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

onesmallstep
Member

Posts: 1241
From: Staten Island, New York USA
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 04-06-2015 04:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, I haven't read or heard anywhere that Grissom was being "groomed" or prepared for the first landing/walk on the moon — or any flight that would have followed his assignment to Apollo 1. True, with Deke Slayton as head of flight crew operations maybe he would prefer one of his fellow Original 7 astronauts as "First Man" — but anyone could have made the final cut, if the fire had not happened in 1967.

Keep in mind a well-documented scene during Gemini, when Slayton called an all-hands meeting of all astronauts to brief them on the order of Apollo flights and their designations and mission goals. He emphasized that each flight would proceed in logical order, and could be repeated if not successful, prior to the first moon landing mission itself.

He closed the meeting by saying that he came into the room that day and looked at the men who would make the first Apollo flights — and the one who would make the first steps on the moon. Grissom was one of many in that room.

With deaths, reassignments and changes in mission plans, it really would have been a long shot for anyone to claim or be assigned a specific Apollo flight years ahead of a launch date and still keep that particular seat.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 39217
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-06-2015 04:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In his biography "Deke!" written with Michael Cassutt, Slayton shares:
On thing that would probably have been different if Gus had lived: the first guy to walk on the moon would have been Gus Grissom, not Neil Armstrong.

...Bob Gilruth and headquarters and I agreed on one thing, prior to the Apollo fire: if possible, one of the Mercury astronauts would have the first chance at being first on the moon.

And at that time Gus was the one guy from the original seven who had the experience to press on through to the landing.

So from Slayton's perspective, no, Grissom as not being groomed, but had he lived, he may very well have been offered the role.

bklyn55
Member

Posts: 240
From: Milford, CT
Registered: Dec 2014

posted 04-06-2015 07:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bklyn55   Click Here to Email bklyn55     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I guess "groom" was the wrong word to use.

What I meant was, prior to the Apollo 1 tragedy, NASA, i.e. Slayton et al, had Gus in mind, assuming everything up to the first moon landing mission went A-OK.

Delta7
Member

Posts: 1398
From: Bluffton IN USA
Registered: Oct 2007

posted 04-07-2015 08:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My thinking is that Deke would have had to name the first lunar landing crew, commanded by Grissom, without it being assigned to a specific mission number. The crew would have begun training for the first landing, to be inserted into the schedule at the appropriate time.

Since he had no control over the schedule of missions (only over who flew them), that's the only way Deke could have made sure Grissom became the first man to walk on the moon. In other words break the crew rotation system (which he stated he reserved the right to do), I also think it's likely Gus would have had a lot of input into whom else was assigned to the crew.

I picture Deke sitting down with Gus after Apollo 1 and saying "The first moon landing is yours if you want it." Then assuming Gus accepted the offer, "Let's talk about who's gonna be on your crew."

onesmallstep
Member

Posts: 1241
From: Staten Island, New York USA
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 04-07-2015 10:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can picture Slayton breaking his own rule regarding crew rotations, but for a one-time event like the first moon landing, it certainly would have taken a leap of faith to trust the machines (and men) to carry out the coveted landing on the first try, and perhaps leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth on the reason Slayton scrapped the rotation system.

Although he did put his foot down on Lovell taking Swigert as Mattingly's replacement on Apollo 13, or else Lovell's entire crew would wait for a later flight, I could see Slayton playing favorites regarding his fellow Mercury brethren; witness the swapping of crews for Apollo 13 and Apollo 14, to give Shepard more time for training (of course, after Apollo 13's aborted landing he had more than enough).

With Shepard and Cooper the last (active) astronauts of the Original 7 at the time, it was a no-brainer to tip the hat in favor of Shepard as Cooper, as is known, did not do himself favors as backup Apollo 10 commander and lost out, per Slayton's memoir, on any future Apollo command.

Delta7
Member

Posts: 1398
From: Bluffton IN USA
Registered: Oct 2007

posted 04-07-2015 11:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Upon the successful completion of Apollo 1, Grissom would have been NASA's most experienced flown astronaut. The first and only one with three flights under his belt (in all three programs; Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, including the first manned flights of the latter two). And on top of that he would have remained no. 1 in the pecking order.

I don't see it as far-fetched that Slayton would decree that Grissom would make the first landing. There might have been a little bit of grumbling among a highly competitive astronaut group, but I doubt many would have questioned the selection of Grissom the individual for that role, or felt that he was "jumping the line" as with Shepard on Apollo 14.

I also think it's possible the official announcement might not have come right away. Due to the development and testing difficulties with the LM, it's unlikely the landing would have occurred before 1969 anyway. Grissom might have spent some time working with Deke in the FCOD until the announcement was made, which might not have been until 1968. By then presumably McDivitt's and Borman's crews would have flown, and there would be a number of astronauts available for assignment to both the prime and backup crews.

I could see either McDivitt or Borman being named as Grissom's backup, as well as Armstrong, Conrad or Stafford.

moorouge
Member

Posts: 2375
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 04-08-2015 01:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just to throw the proverbial spanner into the works — wasn't there an alleged perception that NASA wanted a civilian to be first to set foot on the lunar surface? Wouldn't this rule out Grissom?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 39217
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-08-2015 04:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Setting aside that the whole "civilian" story seems to be more rumor than actual directive, according to James Hansen and others, it only surfaced (no pun intended) after Armstrong was assigned to Apollo 11 and the question rose as to who was to be first to step foot on the moon.

If that was indeed the case, then it would never become an issue were Grissom assigned to the mission instead of Armstrong.

Skylon
Member

Posts: 232
From:
Registered: Sep 2010

posted 04-08-2015 07:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I always have a rough time imagining who Grissom's crew would have been for a lunar landing because I have a hard time imagining a flawless Apollo 1 mission, and then a solid pace of flights given the delays to the lunar module.

If Apollo 1 flies it would be in early 1967 — great. After that, what would NASA do? The LM isn't ready. The Saturn V isn't ready.

Would Apollo 1 have been as super-successful as Apollo 7 was in 1968? I think not. If a second solo-CSM flight deemed necessary, I am sure Slayton would have flown the backup crew of Schirra, Eisele and Cunningham to keep McDivitt and Borman focused on the LM and Saturn. After that, then what?

APG85
Member

Posts: 300
From:
Registered: Jan 2008

posted 04-08-2015 08:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I never really understood how this could have been "planned" for Grissom. Do you just keep inserting him into the flights until a successful landing mission is accomplished? After all, Apollo 11 might have failed and the first landing could have occurred on Apollo 12 making Conrad the first person to walk on the moon (unless his crew got "bumped")...

Delta7
Member

Posts: 1398
From: Bluffton IN USA
Registered: Oct 2007

posted 04-08-2015 08:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Remember that NASA Administrator Tom Paine told the Apollo 11 crew just before launch that they would be launched on the next attempt if Apollo 11 failed to land. Whether that would have actually happened we'll never know. But it shows that anything was possible.

However I doubt that Slayton would have kept using Grissom until a successful landing was achieved. Maybe a second try at most but not simply because Slayton was that determined to make Grissom #1. At some point you need to give the crew a break and let another one have at it.

Skylon
Member

Posts: 232
From:
Registered: Sep 2010

posted 04-08-2015 12:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The key word in Slayton's description is Grissom would have the "first chance at a lunar landing." The scenario I think Slayton, Gilruth and Kraft all imagined was a lot different than the actuality — especially since they envisioned all the "stepping stones" being accomplished in 1967 and 1968. As it was the lunar module had to prove itself ready to land, quickly in 1969.

I think that Slayton built the rotation so that when it came time to select a landing crew, he would break it and pick whom he saw as the very best to accomplish the task — a hand-picked crew that would have ample time to train for the mission.

Had Gus lived into circumstances similar to what actually occurred, with a landing in July, 1969, I think Slayton, who considered Borman, Lovell and Anders a good landing crew, would have replaced Borman with Grissom (he retired anyway), assigned them Armstrong, Collins, Aldrin as backups and pointed them at Apollo 11. This would have caused minimal disturbance to the rotation. However, Grissom likely would have had to recognize a significant catch — if the landing slipped he would be stuck potentially with a dress-rehearsal flight — and no way out of that.

taneal1
Member

Posts: 222
From: Orlando, FL
Registered: Feb 2004

posted 04-28-2015 04:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for taneal1   Click Here to Email taneal1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone know if Grissom had been scheduled for a lunar EVA suit fitting? If he had not, it doesn't prove anything, but if he had been scheduled...

onesmallstep
Member

Posts: 1241
From: Staten Island, New York USA
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 04-28-2015 04:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think so, as the latest version at the time of the Apollo 1 fire was the A6L suit still being designed by ILC Dover and equipped with a micrometeroid/thermal cover, and the 'final' version, the A7L, was not ready until 1968, incorporating fireproof material as a result of the Apollo 1 fire.

Grissom, White and Chaffee wore what NASA called the Block I A1C suit, for earth orbital missions only, with the A5L and later A6L being the building blocks for the full EMU suits to fly as Block II.

Grissom could have tried on or posed with a development version of a lunar EVA suit, but as far as photos showing him in such a suit or being fitted for one, I am unaware of that.

Columbiad1
Member

Posts: 38
From: Lakeland, FL, USA
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 02-21-2018 09:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Columbiad1   Click Here to Email Columbiad1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I read somewhere that the first man to walk on the moon may not of been Neil Armstrong if things worked out differently.

I remember reading that Deke Slayton's first choice to command the first lunar landing and first to walk on the moon was Virgil "Gus" Grissom because he was a very good engineer and had a spark, zest, passion for spaceflight and exploration. I then wonder who would Deke have chosen to be Grissom's LMP and second man to walk on the moon. I heard Donn Eisele (Apollo 7) was being considered to be CMP on the first lunar landing, with Grissom leaving the LMP slot open to be I think Ed White or Roger Chaffee. Of course this never happened because of the Apollo 1 pad fire that took the lives of Grissom, White, and Chaffee.

I then read that Deke Slayton's next choice if things turned out differently was Frank Borman (Apollo 8 commander and lead person in the Apollo 1 pad fire investigation). Deke approached Frank Borman before Apollo 8 flew and asked him if he would like to command the first lunar landing and being the first man on the moon. Borman declined and decided just to command Apollo 8, the first mission to orbit the moon. The reason being is that Borman knew the command module inside and out and had no training on the lunar module, which would of took him many more years to learn to command the first lunar landing after his historic Apollo 8 mission.

So as history ended up, Neil Armstrong was Frank Borman's backup on Apollo 8 and so after Borman declined the first lunar landing it was offered to Neil Armstrong. It helped to that Armstrong was a civilian test pilot and was training or began training in the lunar module just at the right time. Also thanks to the lunar module EVA door opening to the right, Armstrong was to make the first step onto the moon and it helped that he was the commander too. If the door opened to the left it could of been Buzz Aldrin to be the first man on the moon.

Does anyone have more insight on this topic and would appreciate if anyone can add to or give more information about this first man on the moon alternate history. Does this sound like the right set of events that led to Neil Armstrong being the commander of Apollo 11 and the first man to walk on the moon?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

Fra Mauro
Member

Posts: 1412
From: Bethpage, N.Y.
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 02-21-2018 01:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You've got the basics right. Slayton also would've liked Grissom to be the first on the moon because he was an Orginal 7 astronaut. I don't think they ever discussed the rest of a lunar landing crew.

I don't believe Borman was ever officially offered the first lunar landing mission. Armstrong happened to be in the rotation at the right time, being a civilian really didn't have much to do with it. Slayton would have also been fine with McDivitt as the first man to walk on the moon.

mooncollector
Member

Posts: 101
From: Alabama, USA
Registered: Feb 2011

posted 04-08-2018 07:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mooncollector   Click Here to Email mooncollector     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I always felt McDivitt got the short straw in Apollo. He may have been the most accomplished Apollo commander who did not reach the Moon, simply because they ran out of missions. He should by all rights have flown a LM to the surface on Apollo 14 or the original H-mission 15. I feel he would not have failed to reach the rim of Cone Crater if he had been at Fra Mauro instead of Shepard.

I feel like if there had been no Fire, both Grissom and Ed White would have made landings at some point.

I also have a sense that Gordon would have been the last of the CMPs to be elevated to Apollo Commander. Slayton seemed to HIGHLY prefer Gemini experience as a prerequisite to Apollo command and nothing Mattingly/Swigert, Roosa, Worden, or Evans did in the center seat really stood out as being "outstanding". Only Mattingly ever flew again, on the Shuttle.

Fra Mauro
Member

Posts: 1412
From: Bethpage, N.Y.
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 04-09-2018 11:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
McDivitt could have flown on Apollo 14 but he wanted to go with his own crew and not be LMP to Shepard. He was one of those astronauts who didn't feel that walking on the moon was a primary career goal.

As for the CMPs for Apollos 13-17, they all did their jobs well, being coming back from near-disaster, or lunar orbit photography and experiments or EVAs to retrieve film canisters from the SM. As for their not flying again, a major reason was the lack of missions. Roosa might have walked on the moon on Apollo 20. Swigert might have had ASTP if not for the covers incident.

328KF
Member

Posts: 1128
From:
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 04-09-2018 01:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
McDivitt's decision to stick with the LM mission rather than doing the first lunar orbital flight had a significant impact on the landing crews. Had he accepted Deke's offer to go to the moon on what would be Apollo 8, the backup crew of Conrad/ Gordon/ Bean would have been on Apollo 11, and Armstrong/ Collins/ Aldrin on 12.

Interestingly, Deke offered Collins command of the backup crew for Shepard's flight just before 11 flew. Collins declined. Had McDivitt not made the decision he did, Gordon would have been the CMP available for that command, and he would have certainly accepted. This would have eventually (though not known at that time) led to Gordon commanding 17.

Blackarrow
Member

Posts: 2807
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 04-09-2018 05:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mooncollector:
Slayton seemed to HIGHLY prefer Gemini experience as a prerequisite to Apollo command...
And yet Slayton gave command of Skylab 3 to Alan Bean (no Gemini experience; not a CMP) and Skylab 4 to Jerry Carr (rookie).

What actions by Swigert, Roosa, Worden, Mattingly or Evans would you have considered "outstanding?" Is doing the job you are given safely, diligently, and in accordance with the Flight Plan somehow not good enough for you? Those CMPs all did a great job, and when problems arose, they dealt with them. That's what they were trained to do, and that's why they were 2nd-in-command on their missions.

And as Fra Mauro has pointed out, there were no more missions to command, and not every astronaut was prepared to wait 6 years and more for the shuttle.

ManInSpace
New Member

Posts: 3
From: Brooklin, Ontario Canada
Registered: Feb 2018

posted 04-09-2018 06:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ManInSpace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bean was originally assigned to the Apollo Applications Office in the waning days of Gemini because Slayton didn't see him as a candidate for a lunar flight; (Slayton's own admission in his autobiography "Deke"). Much to his surprise, Bean was Conrad's only pick for the LMP slot after Slayton told him he was to be the Apollo 12 commander.

As the AAP developed into Skylab, Bean's earlier work was noted favorably. Many in the Astronaut Office had no interest in long duration missions confined to LEO. Conrad and Bean made it known early after their return from Apollo 12 that they felt otherwise. With these factors in mind, Bean's assignment to the first two month mission was an obvious choice. With the manned flights winding down, Slayton wanted to fly as many rookies as he could; resulting in two each on Conrad and Bean's flights and three more on the last mission.

Skylon
Member

Posts: 232
From:
Registered: Sep 2010

posted 04-10-2018 11:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ManInSpace:
Bean was originally assigned to the Apollo Applications Office in the waning days of Gemini because Slayton didn't see him as a candidate for a lunar flight; (Slayton's own admission in his autobiography "Deke").

Slayton seemed quite defensive of Alan Bean as I recall. It wasn't that he didn't consider him a candidate for a lunar flight, but his appointment to AAP Slayton insists was because he trusted him to be able to handle things effectively. Slayton also makes it a point that he trusted Bean enough to assign him as a rookie backup commander on Gemini 10, insisting he had full confidence in his abilities if anything happened to John Young.

Slayton seemed to have full confidence in Bean - Alan Shepard on the other hand is where I've heard it suggested things get dicey.

Rusty53
Member

Posts: 43
From: Rochester, NY USA
Registered: Jun 2010

posted 04-10-2018 12:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rusty53     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe it would have been very difficult from the point of view of morale in the astronaut office for Slayton to insert Grissom on to the first landing attempt. This is the same reason that Slayton never actually spoke to Borman about his crew being rotated to Apollo 11. Slayton reflected that it would have been unfair to the Armstrong crew and, besides, his own formula for crew rotations had worked very well up to that point.

ManInSpace
New Member

Posts: 3
From: Brooklin, Ontario Canada
Registered: Feb 2018

posted 04-10-2018 12:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ManInSpace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not ignoring the supportive words that Deke had about Bean in his book and personally I am fan of Bean's accomplishments.

Back in 1966 however, the AAP Office was considered a dead-end assignment within the Astronaut Office. Bean himself has commented on this a few times. He has said that at the time he never really fully understood why he was taken off the Lunar programme; but to his credit simply decided to do the "best job he could do". He was true to his words and the rest is history.

Delta7
Member

Posts: 1398
From: Bluffton IN USA
Registered: Oct 2007

posted 04-11-2018 05:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When C.C. Williams died, a big question would have been if Deke considered the rookies from Groups 4/5 finished with their training to the point of being ready for a crew assignment. If not, there really wasn't anyone besides Bean available to replace C.C.that wasn't already assigned to a crew. Even when Fred Haise was assigned to the Apollo 8 backup crew 10 months later, I seem to recall reading that Deke hadn't planned to start assigning those guys even that soon.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 39217
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-11-2018 10:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In "Apollo 8" (page 258-259), Jeffrey Kluger writes that even before the Apollo 8 crew’s splashdown...
Especially intense was the speculation about when the surely inevitable lunar landing would take place.

The betting was that it could happen as early as May, when Apollo 10 was due to be launched. After a quick shakedown run for the LEM in Earth orbit, it would be off to stamp some bootprints in the Sea of Tranquility. The crew would include Tom Stafford, Wally Schirra’s copilot when Gemini 6 rendezvoused with Gemini 7 in Earth orbit, and he would probably draw the card as the first man on the moon... The press was already starting to prepare the Stafford profiles.
I have been told that Stafford has said this was true, but within a couple of months they knew the LM was still too heavy to make the landing on Apollo 10 and so they began the work to make the mission the last full shakedown flight before the lunar landing attempt.

But if the lunar module had stayed on its planned development schedule, Tom Stafford would have commanded the first moon landing.

David C
Member

Posts: 742
From: Pasadena, CA
Registered: Apr 2012

posted 04-12-2018 06:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
...Tom Stafford would have commanded the first moon landing.
Attempt, far from a sure thing that he'd have succeeded.

Kite
Member

Posts: 703
From: Northampton UK
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 04-13-2018 11:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think even if the LM had been the correct weight it would have been unwise to land on the Moon in only its second manned flight. With only an Earth orbit flight beforehand if anything had gone disasterously wrong the criticism could have stopped the whole project. Apollo 8 was an understandable risk but Apollo 10 landing would have suggested impatience. The correct decision was definately made.

Headshot
Member

Posts: 719
From: Streamwood, IL USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 04-13-2018 12:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Agreed.

We had three chances to attempt a lunar landing in 1969 after Apollo 10 flew. Apollo 11 in July, Apollo 12 in September and Apollo 13 in November. No need to jeopardize a crew by rushing.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 39217
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-13-2018 01:09 PM     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 Kite:
The correct decision was definitely made.
It wasn't so much a decision as it was a result of the mass issues with the lunar module. NASA didn't decide not to land Apollo 10; it couldn't even if it wanted to.

So perhaps history played out in NASA's favor, but if the lunar module had been ready for a landing and everything else cooperated, it sounds like NASA would have proceeded with Apollo 10 attempting the first landing.

Blackarrow
Member

Posts: 2807
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 04-13-2018 08:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember, going back to the early 1960s (probably around 1963-64) that the expectation was that the first landing would be on the fifth Apollo mission, in other words that there would be four test flights followed by the "real thing." I was 9, who was I to question what I had read (probably in a boys' comic)? But of course that was what actually happened. I assume the early reasoning was:

(1) CSM test in orbit; (2) CSM test in high Earth orbit; (3) CSM/LM test in Earth orbit; (4) CSM/LM test in lunar orbit; (5) first landing.

Because I was only 9 I had faith that what I read would actually be done, so it was never a surprise to me that Apollo 11 proved to be the first landing mission. (My father had to take me to one side and point out to me that I shouldn't assume Apollo 11 would succeed. He pointed out that it was possible it would fail and that the crew would die. That hadn't really occurred to me!)

canyon42
Member

Posts: 230
From: Ohio
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 04-14-2018 08:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for canyon42   Click Here to Email canyon42     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've always been under the impression that even if Apollo 10's lander hadn't been overweight, there was a strong preference among the operations people for a lunar orbit "dress rehearsal" due to various uncertainties, particularly related to the impact of the mascons on the trajectory. Was that not as big of a concern as I've thought?

dom
Member

Posts: 755
From:
Registered: Aug 2001

posted 04-14-2018 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I know the answer to this can only be pure speculation but if Slayton himself hadn’t been grounded in the early 1960s could he have been on the first lunar landing? Compared to the other astronauts (whose fate he controlled), did he have the "right stuff" to command a moon mission if he was on active duty during that period?

Tom
Member

Posts: 1539
From: New York
Registered: Nov 2000

posted 04-14-2018 06:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My guess is it would have depended on how successful his Mercury and/or Gemini missions were?

dom
Member

Posts: 755
From:
Registered: Aug 2001

posted 04-15-2018 08:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Slayton would have been 45 in 1969, so would he have been too old?

My impression is that Al Shepard (who was roughly the same age) only got his lunar assignment because of his friendship with Slayton. If history had been different and Slayton wasn’t grounded... would he have been too old to get one of Apollo missions in the late sixties?

Tykeanaut
Member

Posts: 2154
From: Worcestershire, England, UK.
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 04-15-2018 09:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think Slayton may well have got a mission, but one of the later ones perhaps?

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 2018 collectSPACE.com All rights reserved.


Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.47a





advertisement