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
  MR-3: Selecting the first U.S. astronaut to fly

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

next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   MR-3: Selecting the first U.S. astronaut to fly
Chegi
Member

Posts: 15
From: Czech Republic
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 09-07-2012 05:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Chegi   Click Here to Email Chegi     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone know why Alan Shepard was the first U.S. astronaut, in front of John Glenn?

I saw "The Right Stuff" and Glenn says there that he is angry because he will be second after Gagarin. It was his choice, not to be first in space, but be the first on the orbit?

J.L
Member

Posts: 388
From: Bloomington, Illinois, USA
Registered: May 2005

posted 09-07-2012 05:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for J.L   Click Here to Email J.L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Chegi:
I saw "The Right Stuff"...
This movie should not be viewed for it's historical accuracies or inaccuracies, but entertainment only.

Chegi
Member

Posts: 15
From: Czech Republic
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 09-07-2012 05:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Chegi   Click Here to Email Chegi     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
But it is well-known that Glenn was a leading figure of Mercury 7. And people assumed that he would be first. Many politicians assumed it so. Therefore I am a bit suprised that Shepard was chosen to be first...

moorouge
Member

Posts: 1490
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 09-08-2012 02:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is a suggestion that Shepard was selected to make the MR-3 flight by Gilruth as early as January 1961.

However, the first and only mention of crew selection in the NASA Mercury Chronology is for February 21st 1961 when it simply states that Shepard, Glenn and Grissom were selected to train for that mission.

On edit - there is a photo taken at the time of the public announcement of the trio that some claim shows that Shepard knew at this time that he was to make the first flight.

Obviousman
Member

Posts: 427
From: NSW, Australia
Registered: May 2005

posted 09-08-2012 05:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Obviousman   Click Here to Email Obviousman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by J.L:
This movie should not be viewed for it's historical accuracies or inaccuracies, but entertainment only.
Agreed; it does misrepresent situations for dramatic purposes (e.g. Gus Grissom).

Michael Cassutt
Member

Posts: 263
From: Studio City CA USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 09-08-2012 11:20 AM     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 moorouge:
There is a suggestion that Shepard was selected to make the MR-3 flight by Gilruth as early as January 1961.
It's more than a suggestion. Several participants, including Slayton and Glenn himself (who, along with Carpenter, was one of Tom Wolfe's primary sources for THE RIGHT STUFF) confirm that Gilruth gathered the Mercury astronauts in an office on January 19th and told, with very little preamble, "Shepard's got the first mission, Grissom's got the second, Glenn backs up both."

Why Shepard and not Glenn? A combination of external judgments (Gilruth's, Walt Williams', etc.) and peer ratings, where Shepard apparently scored higher than Glenn or anyone else.

ilbasso
Member

Posts: 1494
From: Greensboro, NC USA
Registered: Feb 2006

posted 09-08-2012 02:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of the few times we didn't send in the Marines first before committing the rest of the troops!

Skylon
Member

Posts: 140
From:
Registered: Sep 2010

posted 09-08-2012 05:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Tom Wolfe seems to assign a lot of it to the peer vote (where Glenn's pious attitude worked against him). He practically makes it seem like Gilruth gave the selection process to the Astronauts with the peer vote.

Most in the program seem to indicate otherwise. That the peer vote was issued more to see if the Astronaut's views confirmed his. Jay Barbee I heard suggest Shepard was considered the "smartest" of the Mercury 7, and most able to deal with any potential problems on the first flight, however I'm not sure where that insight comes from. In any case, there seems to be enough evidence that while Glenn was the one the press loved, Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom were the favorites of the managers working the operational trenches.

Everyone in NASA knew Shepard was going to fly MR-3, however the public was told Glenn, Grissom and Shepard (in a release listing them in alphabetical order) were the prime "candidates" for MR-3 - and many in the public assumed it was Glenn right up until Shepard walked out for the first launch attempt.

As far as Glenn's landing the first orbital flight - he really only has Khrushchev, Korolev and Titov to thank for that one - he wasn't being "saved up" for anything. Up until Titov's one day flight, Glenn was assigned to fly a third sub-orbital Mercury flight. The embarrassment led to MR-5 being scrubbed and Glenn landing the first orbital mission.

WAWalsh
Member

Posts: 791
From: Cortlandt Manor, NY
Registered: May 2000

posted 09-10-2012 08:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for WAWalsh   Click Here to Email WAWalsh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Specific to Williams and Gilruth, I wonder if Shepard's stronger test pilot background influenced the decision.

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