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  Disabled/deceased Gemini EVA astronaut return

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Author Topic:   Disabled/deceased Gemini EVA astronaut return
Headshot
Member

Posts: 182
From: Streamwood, IL USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 10-10-2012 09:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In his book "We Have Capture," Tom Stafford describes a conversation that Deke Slayton had with him just before Gemini IX's launch. Slayton told Stafford that should Gene Cernan die during his EVA, Stafford was to retrieve the body and try to return to Earth with it. Stafford cited several technical reasons why this might not be feasible.

My question is, does anyone have any information whether or not Slayton had similar discussions with the Command Pilots of other Gemini EVA missions - McDivitt (Gemini IV), Armstrong (Gemini VIII), Young (Gemini X), Conrad (Gemini XI) or Lovell (Gemini XII)?

BBlatcher
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Posts: 47
From: Savannah, GA, USA
Registered: Aug 2011

posted 10-10-2012 07:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BBlatcher     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In 'Rocketman: Astronaut Pete Conrad's Incredible Ride to the Moon and Beyond', Deke Slayton supposedly talked to Conrad about leaving Dick Gordon behind if the latter's spacewalk went bad.

I say supposedly because Rocketman seems to take some creative liberties with a few details, but I could be wrong on that.

MCroft04
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Posts: 1219
From: Smithfield, Me, USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 10-10-2012 07:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If I get my first choice of astronaut to have dinner with at the Apollo 17 40th Anniversary celebration in November I'll let you know about Gemini IV; that question ranks up high on my list of questions. I'm keeping my fingers crossed (Linn)!

Headshot
Member

Posts: 182
From: Streamwood, IL USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 10-11-2012 07:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks.

It is interesting that some books are written for the sake of establishing the writer's place in history and telling his story in the process, while others are written just to make a buck... and usually we can easily tell the difference.

Two other aspects to this topic are:

  1. At what point, if any, did the command pilot let the pilot in on what Slayton said. Before launch, during the mission, shortly after the mission, or way after the mission?

  2. Were similar instructions given to the lunar module crews? If one became incapacitated, would the other have to leave him behind?

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

posted 10-11-2012 10:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The second of the above queries has been dealt with at length on another thread in this section.

Headshot
Member

Posts: 182
From: Streamwood, IL USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 10-11-2012 12:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the link to that thread.

While it is very interesting reading, it mainly addresses the technical issue of whether or not one lunar astronaut could carry a disabled astronaut and stuff him back in the LM.

Obviously some people at NASA were concerned enough to have Lockheed prepare the study cited in the thread. But it was issued in July of 1971, by then we had landed three crews on the moon, and the fourth crew was deep in the middle of training. If I had to put money on it, I would bet they never even saw it before they launched.

I am more interested to find out what, if any, instructions Deke Slayton might have given to the crews about dealing with a dead astronaut while on the moon's surface.

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

posted 10-12-2012 02:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The problem may have been more deep seated and one that the astronauts were aware of without any input from Slayton. Though there is only a brief mention, NASA Technical Memorandum 108846 would seem to suggest that suit mobility was the major issue in dealing with an incapacitated colleague.

schnappsicle
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Posts: 116
From: Houston, TX, USA
Registered: Jan 2012

posted 10-12-2012 04:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for schnappsicle   Click Here to Email schnappsicle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the books I've read, and my memory isn't the best, I think Slayton told all the commanders to leave the astronaut out there if his buddy became incapacitated or died. What makes that especially scary is how close Cernan came to passing out during his Gemini 9 EVA.

I think in Conrad's book, he says that there's no way he would have done that to Gordon, but I don't see how he could have done otherwise. The commander's suit was not made for EVA. There was no extra layer against radiation(?) on the commander's suit. Sure, he could have pulled on the umbilical cord and gotten his buddy close to the hatch, but at some point, he would have had to go out and line him up to bring him back into the spacecraft.

If an unprotected astronaut had gone outside to retrieve a stricken crewmate, he risked killing himself. Even if he succeeded, imagine the work required to put his fallen comrade back in his seat so the hatch could be closed, which took both astronauts pulling to close on both Gemini 4 and Gemini 9.

When I think of the amount of work required by the CDR to bring his stricken crewmate into the vehicle, I'm reminded of Cernan and Gordon's EVAs. He would have worn himself out trying to get his fallen buddy into the spacecraft. NASA did not want two dead astronauts orbiting the earth.

Lastly, I'm reminded of Michael Collins book, where he says he would have returned home alone if the situation called for it. All of the astronauts were military men, trained to follow orders. With the exception of Apollo 7 and Skylab 4, all the crews obeyed orders from Mission Control.

bwhite1976
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Posts: 145
From: belleville, IL USA
Registered: Jun 2011

posted 10-12-2012 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bwhite1976   Click Here to Email bwhite1976     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I seem to recall in the Turner documentary Moon Shot that both Conrad and Stafford discussed this scenario. Stafford indicated that he was pulled aside by Slayton at the last minute and Conrad I don't believe mentioned Slayton, but they both had the same basic story. Haven't seen Moon Shot in a while, but that is my recollection. Interesting though that this documentary( so to speak) is before either book.

Headshot
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Posts: 182
From: Streamwood, IL USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 10-13-2012 09:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I suddenly realized that perhaps I placed too much emphasis on Deke Slayton. According to Stafford's account, Slayton said he was relaying instructions from "NASA management."

Does anyone have any thoughts about WHO in NASA management might have orginated this idea? Gilruth? Kraft? etc.

Paul78zephyr
Member

Posts: 344
From: Hudson, MA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 10-14-2012 08:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by schnappsicle:
All of the astronauts were military men, trained to follow orders. With the exception of Apollo 7 and Skylab 4, all the crews obeyed orders from Mission Control.
Gee, I thought the commander was in charge of the mission.
quote:
Originally posted by Headshot:
Does anyone have any thoughts about WHO in NASA management might have orginated this idea?
I think 'NASA management' had people looking at all kinds of 'what ifs' so that they would not be in any kind of situation in which they had not discussed a contingency beforehand. I think that is good practice for any organization dealing with possible life threatening situations.
quote:
Originally posted by BBlatcher:
I say supposedly because Rocketman seems to take some creative liberties with a few details, but I could be wrong on that.
"OK Pete, she's all yours!"

I don't remember reading that in the transcript.

moonguyron
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Posts: 41
From: salado, tx, usa
Registered: Jan 2011

posted 10-20-2012 12:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moonguyron   Click Here to Email moonguyron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In his book "Forever Young", John Young, speaking of his Gemini flight with Mike Collins, mentions that a few days before launch he heard a "bleak warning" from Deke Slayton." If anything happens to Mike while he is EVA, you have to get him back inside the cockpit and bring him home".

Upon John telling Deke that it would be impossible to get an incapacitated crewmember back in, Deke "didn't want to hear any of that" and he got "pretty angry". John says that "getting the boss angry before your launch is not good".

All times are CT (US)

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