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  Apollo 14: Astronaut Office reaction to Shepard (Page 2)

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Author Topic:   Apollo 14: Astronaut Office reaction to Shepard
Henry Heatherbank
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From: Adelaide, South Australia
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posted 08-21-2012 06:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Henry Heatherbank     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by canyon42:
Honestly, I always kind of thought of the landing radar incident being one of those things that Shepard allowed to be played up and consequently enhance his "mystique," for want of a better word.
Without a shred of evidence to back this up, I always felt this was just Shepard's bravado talking, and that he would not have broken the mission rules.

Remember, this was the first flight after Apollo 13, so I'd like to think the crew would not have done anything to overly jeopardise the mission or the program at the point, given that an unspoken objective of the mission must have been to fly a textbook flight to restore Congressional faith in finishing the program.

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-21-2012 12:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From my viewpoint, I think Shepard would have continued with the landing. To get so close and fail... well, that doesn't seem to be his personality. Remember, that he wanted to depressurize the CM to get the docking latches to work. A failure to land on Apollo 14 would have been almost as bad for the continuation of the program as a dead crew.

capoetc
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posted 08-21-2012 03:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Alan Shepard was, above all, a military-trained test pilot, accustomed to following orders and being part of a team. In my opinion, there is absolutely a zero % chance he would have continued to the surface without the concurrence of mission control.

I am quite confident that he realized the time to have a mission rules discussion was on the ground, long before the rocket departed from the pad. They might have had an exchange with mission control if it had happened, but I strongly believe he would have done the right thing.

Headshot
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posted 08-21-2012 04:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Since this thread was originally about astronaut reaction to Shepard's selection, did any NASA astronaut go on record to say what THEY would have done if they were in Shepard's place during Antares' landing?

Jay Chladek
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posted 08-25-2012 03:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The only thing about lack of a landing radar is you would lose your visual references to how much velocity you have as well. The intertial guidance would have given a set of velocity numbers, but the landing radar data likely would have been tied to the descent velocity to update the numbers in case the inertial guidance was a little off. "Little" is a relative term as there can be a big difference between 3 feet, 30 feet and 300 feet per second (one would land you safely, one might kill you and the third would certainly kill you).

While the guidance would still likely give them inertial velocity numbers, not knowing potentially HOW close the moon was could have been a big problem. It is very difficult to visually determine how far away an object on the moon is since there is no atmospheric haze to make far away objects look far away. There, things that are miles away look just as clear as something close up. If you have no frame of reference for how big something is on an alien landscape, judging distance is a lot more difficult.

The idea that Shepard might have rested control away from the PNGS to set down on his own is likely not how it would have transpired. Instead, they probably would have let the descent program keep them going down in the hope that their inertial readings were still accurate and the landmarks of the landing area were correct in Shepard's window (since the descent path to the surface was not straight down, but rather coming down with a small amount of horizontal velocity).

Shepard then likely would have taken over when they got the dust being kicked up and/or visual of the LM's shadow on the surface, as then they would have a frame of reference as to how close to the surface they were. But if they were coming in way too fast, they would have been in the dead man zone, too low to slow down in time before impact or to abort (which is why the landing radar was so critical).

If you want a good insight into how the Apollo guidance system worked (and what some of the malfunctions encountered were, including the source and full reason for Apollo 11's 1201 and 1202 alarms) pick up a copy of the book "Digital Apollo" as it explains the history, design and function of the Apollo spacecraft's guidance and computer system VERY well.

After reading it, I think Antares probably could have gotten down due to how well designed the guidance system was (assuming everything else was right on the numbers). But, it would have required the pilots to put a lot more faith in the system than they had up to that point.

Duke Of URL
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posted 09-08-2012 11:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Cassutt:
Cernan wasn't thinking about an Apollo landing command in May 1969.
From everything I've read about the astronauts they ALL started thinking about command of an Apollo landing the first day they showed up for work if not the day they sent in their applications.

Skylon
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posted 09-09-2012 12:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Michael's point was that in May, 1969 Cernan would have been focused on Apollo 10, which flew that month, and he was aboard as LMP.

As far as Command, who can say? Flying in space was the ultimate goal of the Astronauts, the Moon a goal for many of them, but enough of them to one extent or the other took themselves out of the running (Schirra, McDivitt, Borman, Stafford, Anders and Collins off the top of my head) of potentially walking on the Moon.

Obviousman
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posted 09-09-2012 03:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Obviousman   Click Here to Email Obviousman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well said.

Delta7
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posted 09-09-2012 09:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I doubt anyone in the astronaut office would have been of the mind to march into Deke's office and object to Shepard's selection, especially anyone hoping for a future assignment. As for those who had removed themselves from consideration, what would they have to gain? Jim McDivitt mentioned in an interview a while back that he disagreed with some aspects of the crew selection process back then, but didn't elaborate. Bottom line Deke was the boss and it was his call. He was answerable only to those above him, and I'm sure he wouldn't have made the decision if he had doubts about Shepard's ability to do the job.

canyon42
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posted 09-09-2012 02:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for canyon42   Click Here to Email canyon42     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not sure that Schirra and Anders belong among those who "took themselves" out of contention for a moonwalking slot.

Schirra always said that he was given the definite impression (if not directly told outright) that no matter what, he would not be considered for another mission after Apollo 7 (and that he never would have flown Apollo at all if not for the Apollo 1 fire).

And unless I'm misunderstanding, Anders was always of the opinion that after Apollo 8 he was seen as a future command module pilot — so that the earliest possible assignment he could have had in a commander's role under the "normal" flight rotation would have been on Apollo 20 (following a backup CMP assignment on 11, then possibly a prime CMP assignment on 14 and then a theoretical backup CDR assignment on 17), and that he considered that to be a clear long-shot.

Skylon
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posted 09-09-2012 03:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Schirra was "making noises" about retiring before Apollo crews started to get named. It factored into his assignment to Apollo 205, a mission that would break no real new ground and got canceled, ultimately landing the apparent dead-end of backing up Apollo 1. He of course went on to command Apollo 7, but he had announced his intention to retire before Apollo 7 flew.

Under the normal rotation, Anders could have found himself pointed at Apollo 19. A long shot, yes, but those who wanted a Command took some long shots (Gene Cernan, by rejecting Slayton's offer to fly as LMP on Apollo 16, and Dick Gordon who held out for Apollo 18, over his good friend Pete Conrad's advice that if he wanted to fly again, he should work the Skylab program).

Fra Mauro
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posted 10-15-2012 10:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was browsing through my copy of "Light This Candle," and it says that McDivitt was Shepard's original LMP but he was removed when he said that Al didn't deserve the flight.

I'm not sure how credible this is but I put it out there.

Michael Cassutt
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posted 10-15-2012 01:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Cassutt   Click Here to Email Michael Cassutt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Fra Mauro:
I'm not sure how credible this is but I put it out there.
It's not. That scenario never reached a point where there was a crew for McDivitt to be removed from. As stated earlier, this was a "what if" discussion that went nowhere.

model maker
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posted 10-16-2012 08:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for model maker     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On Apollo 11 the 1201 - 1202 alarms were the radars. Buzz Aldrin said he intentionally left the rendezvous radar ON at the same time the landing radar was "trying" to do its job. Buzz said in case they had to abort, he didn't want to lose the CSM's location and wanted to be able to know where Collins was.

The two radars were fighting each other and causing the computers to "overload" had the rendezvous radar been turned OFF during the landing, those 1201-1202 alarms would not have sounded.

mark plas
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posted 10-17-2012 01:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mark plas   Click Here to Email mark plas     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I never understood why Cernan was offered another LMP seat with Young.

If Cernan had accepted the 13 backup LMP seat, a rookie would be CMP and senior to him.

Also I thought that once a crew was broken up that is a commander leaving like McDivitt Borman Schirra the other members were also going different directions.

Henry Heatherbank
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From: Adelaide, South Australia
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posted 10-17-2012 04:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Henry Heatherbank     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not surprised that someone like Young would have wanted someone like Cernan as LMP. You have to remember that Young had trained and flown with Cernan as LMP, so would (presumably) have had confidence in him, so this would have enhanced the skills of the (new) crew under Young's command.

I imagine Young and the Apollo managers had no doubt Cernan would accept the Apollo 13 BU LMP role, because of the rotation that would then have put him on the Moon on Apollo 16, only to be stunned when Cernan rolled the dice the way he did...

Skylon
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posted 10-17-2012 05:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If not for his bout with space sickness, Slayton would have rotated Rusty Schweickart to LMP on Dave Scott's Apollo 12 backup crew, then probably later Apollo 15.

The Apollo 8, 9 and 10 crews were assembled as possible landing crews. The CDR's went into management or retired, but Slayton did try to keep the CMP's and LMP's together - Lovell and Anders on Apollo 11's backup crew for instance (though Anders got "promoted" to CMP). It just didn't pan out though due Anders retiring, Schweickart's space sickness and Cernan's gamble. I always wondered who Slayton would have turned to for 17 if Cernan HAD accepted the position of LMP on John Young's crew. Would Dick Gordon have gotten bumped up in the rotation?

Also, the seniority aspect on CMP/ is getting overplayed. The CMP and LMP were considered specialists in their vehicle. With the exception of Anders' "promotion", which was due to Apollo 11 flying when the "Veteran CMP" rule was still in place, Cernan had trained heavily on the LM. Why throw away that training and promote him to CMP? Not to mention, why would he want to go out there twice and not land (especially after barnstorming the Moon on Apollo 10)?

Delta7
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posted 10-17-2012 08:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think I read somewhere that Charlie Duke was originally being considered for a CMP slot before getting the LMP slot that Cernan turned down. Young, Duke, Cernan?

And what if Mike Collins had decided to stay in the rotation after Apollo 11? What did Slayton have in mind as all of this played itself out? Young, Duke, Cernan followed by Collins, Swigert, Engle?

robsouth
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posted 10-19-2012 10:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When I asked Edgar Mitchell if they would have carried on with the landing with no radar, he said, "There was no doubt, then or now, that we would have proceeded to land".

Tom
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posted 10-19-2012 04:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for asking... I always wondered what his reply would be.


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