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  Apollo 15 crew's assignments after the mission

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Author Topic:   Apollo 15 crew's assignments after the mission
Duke Of URL
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posted 12-05-2012 06:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If this has been answered before, please forgive me.

I thought I read that, before the stamp thing the Apollo 15 crew was assigned as back-up for another mission. But didn't Jim Irwin had a heart attack on the moon?

It was my impression they were taken off the rotation a couple of months after they landed. Was his condition considered not serious?

Also, had they stayed with NASA what kind of flight assignments could they have gotten? For example, Dave Scott was a very talented astronaut. Could he have been involved with shuttle flights if he had stayed in good graces, or was he slated for management?

Skylon
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posted 12-05-2012 06:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can't speak to the severity of Irwin's condition, and how it may have impacted that assignment to 17's backup crew. He did blame his later history of heart problems on the Apollo 15 EVA's.

Dave Scott did indeed want to stick around to fly the Shuttle. Jim Irwin seemed ready to leave as he was focusing on preaching a lot after Apollo 15. Al Worden is a question mark.

LM-12
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posted 12-05-2012 07:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Irwin's Apollo 17 back-up assignment is also discussed on this thread.

WAWalsh
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posted 12-06-2012 09:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for WAWalsh   Click Here to Email WAWalsh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John Young, in his autobiography (p 198) states that Scott's crew was originally the backup crew for Apollo 17, but were pulled and replaced by Young, Duke and Roosa.

spaceman1953
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posted 12-06-2012 12:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I thought "15" crew was in eternal hot water for the carried covers scandal?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-06-2012 12:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The assignments being discussed here are between the time the mission landed and the unauthorized covers surfaced for sale. The "scandal" such that it was did not begin immediately post-flight.

Duke Of URL
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posted 12-06-2012 03:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From everything I've read the stamp affair was a raw deal on the Apollo 15 crew and they took the heat for something that had been no big deal before then.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-06-2012 03:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you (and others) haven't done so already, I would highly recommend reading Al Worden's detailed account of the matter in his and Francis French's book, "Falling to Earth."

robsouth
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posted 12-07-2012 10:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From memory the Apollo 16 prime and backup crews were announced in March '71, the backup crew was Haise, Roosa, Mitchell. NASA waited until after the completion of Apollo 15 before telling the crews for Apollo 17 who had been selected on 10 August 71.

The backup crew was Scott, Worden, Irwin. On 23 May 72 an announcement was made that the Apollo 17 backup crew was changing to Young, Roosa, Duke. From August '71 to May '72 Irwin was the Apollo 17 backup LMP.

In my opinion, the last three Apollo backup crews were chosen for their experience, would they have been the actual astronauts to replace a prime crew member, that's open to debate. If Schmitt had been unable to go then who would have been chosen? Haise, Engle, Duke, Roosa, Carr, Mitchell or maybe someone else.

Henry Heatherbank
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posted 12-07-2012 05:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Henry Heatherbank     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Like I postulated on the other thread referred to in an earlier post, Schmitt was going to go no matter what (barring death). So if he had broken a leg in, say, November '72 I think they would have delayed the launch rather than swap him out for Duke who by that time was his backup (replacing Irwin from May '72), in order to preserve the December 72 slot.

Headshot
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From: Streamwood, IL USA
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posted 12-07-2012 06:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The problem is that the Taurus-Littrow site could only be reached during a short period in the winter. The launch might have been postponed for a month (one lunation), but a longer delay would have meant choosing a new landing site for 17. I doubt that Apollo management would have allowed that and they would have flown the BU LM pilot. Just think of all the additional costs NASA would have incurred to: (1) retrain the crew (6 month tops) for another landing site or (2) delay the launch of 17 for a year. Bad news either way.

On another note, doesn't anyone else find it odd that they did not tap Joe Engle for the 17 LM backup?

Duke Of URL
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posted 12-07-2012 07:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I thought Engle was the backup LMP for Apollo 17, having been bumped from the prime crew for Schmidt.

Skylon
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posted 12-08-2012 08:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No, Engle's last Apollo assignment was backup on Apollo 14. He went into the Shuttle Program pretty quickly after learning he would not rotate to Apollo 17, supposedly even turning down an offer to fly on ASTP (anyone have a source on this?)

This ties into the comment about the last Apollo backup crews being chosen for experience. Deke Slayton didn't want to dead-end anyone if possible. Apollo 15's backup crew was assigned when there was still potentially going to be an Apollo 18. Apollo 16's backup crew was changed very early from Haise-Pogue-Carr to Haise-Roosa-Mitchell when it was clear there would be no Apollo 19 - so Pogue and Carr could secure Skylab flights (which they did). Of course having flown a lunar mission was a factor in why Roosa and Mitchell (and Duke on 17) were chosen.

For Ed Mitchell it also became the final payment of dues for walking on the Moon on 14 in the first place, since he had to be strong-armed basically into backing up 16.

model maker
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posted 12-08-2012 12:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for model maker     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Would NASA have chosen a former moonwalker to walk on the moon a second time such as Young, Duke or Mitchell or would they have had Roosa walk on the moon and have Young, Duke and Mitchell serve as CM pilots?

Headshot
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posted 12-08-2012 12:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As an aside to Skylon's input.

Cancellation of the final H and J missions (then Apollos 15 and 19) was reported in the Sept. 7, 1970 issue of Aviation Week and Space Technology. So it was at that point that Slayton and the astronaut core knew there would be no flights after the redesignated Apollo 17 and he would have to pick his prime and back-up crews accordingly.

Skylon
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posted 12-08-2012 03:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by model maker:
Would NASA have chosen a former moonwalker to walk on the moon a second time such as Young, Duke or Mitchell or would they have had Roosa walk on the moon and have Young, Duke and Mitchell serve as CM pilots?

In the event of what? Initial selection wise there was a "rule" that everyone only got one lunar landing command (as Pete Conrad was told). I don't know if LMP's were considered for future Commands if they walked on the Moon (Fred Haise is the closest case, but he lost his chance on 13. Had he walked on the Moon on Apollo 13, I can't even guess if he would have been assigned to backup 16, with the idea of commanding 19).

Once again, the backup crews for 16 and 17 were chosen to avoid dead-ending rookie astronauts in an assignment that had no prospect of a future flight, while assigning people who could complete the mission (due to prior Apollo mission experience) at a moment's notice in the event of severe injury or death of a prime crew member.

If it was sudden injury or death of a prime crew members, then no. Young, Duke and Mitchell had trained as CDR and LMP's. Roosa had trained as CMP. If something happened to a prime crewmember, they would fly as they trained.

model maker
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posted 12-09-2012 10:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for model maker     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Skylon, I always wondered how that would work if that were to happen.

Delta7
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posted 12-09-2012 11:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Why was Roosa assigned to the Apollo 17 backup crew instead of Mattingly? (Since Mattingly had trained and flown with Young and Duke; it would've made sense to keep that crew together rather than make a single substitution). Was it because he wanted to get in on working on the Shuttle early? Was it his choice or did Slayton make that decision for other reasons?

Skylon
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posted 12-09-2012 01:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a total guess, but maybe because Mattingly was put through the cycle twice, having been bumped from Apollo 13. Maybe he earned some sympathy from Slayton on that front. If Roosa was willing to stick out another backup assignment, then why not use him instead of Mattingly?

I have honestly wondered "why not Mattingly?" too.

robsouth
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posted 12-09-2012 03:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe Mattingly requested more time with his family so he wasn't assigned as a backup on that mission.

Michael Cassutt
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posted 12-09-2012 03:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Cassutt   Click Here to Email Michael Cassutt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Regarding the backup Apollo 17 CMP after the removal of Worden, Slayton encouraged Mattingly to take the job, but didn't force it, offering shuttle development as an option. (Mattingly was also weighing a return to the Navy after Apollo 16; he talked to various parties at the Pentagon and concluded that he would be more useful remaining with NASA and working on the shuttle.)

Tom
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posted 12-09-2012 03:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I guess it's no surprise then that both of Mattingly's shuttle flights were for the DOD.

Jay Chladek
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posted 12-10-2012 11:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tom:
I guess it's no surprise then that both of Mattingly's shuttle flights were for the DOD.

STS-4 wasn't a DoD flight. Yes, it had ONE Department of Defense payload onboard, but by and large it was a shuttle program development flight with many payloads (the vast majority being related to on orbit testing or early science gathering.

According to some accounts I read, the "rinky dink" DoD payload (apparently Mattingly's term) failed to operate properly on orbit anyway.

JasonB
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posted 12-11-2012 12:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for JasonB   Click Here to Email JasonB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting topic! My question is why was Richard Gordon not put on the back up crew for 17? You'd think they would have put him in line if something prevented Cernan from going. According to Cernan's book it was between those two to command 17. I really should have asked him at ASF. Just wondering why they would potentially send Young up twice in a row instead of having Gordon as back up unless Gordon simply didn't want the back up role.

Delta7
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posted 12-11-2012 03:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gordon had left NASA by the time the switch from Scott to Young as backup CDR was made.

I would presume Gordon didn't want to stick around another couple of years on the slim chance of replacing Cernan even if it was offered to him, which I doubt was. And the New Orleans Saints beckoned...

robsouth
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posted 12-11-2012 03:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The crew for Apollo 18 would probably have been Gordon, Brand and Schmitt. With Schmitt being selected for the Apollo 17 prime crew and Slayton's desire not to assign rookies to the last few Apollo backup crews ruling out Brand, who subsequently went on to serve as backup commander for the last two Skylab missions, it would have left Gordon without a CMP or a LMP. Slayton simply rotated the Apollo 15 crew to the Apollo 17 backup crew. By the time the Apollo 17 backup crew was changed to Young, Roosa and Duke, Gordon no longer worked at NASA having resigned in January '72.

Delta7
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posted 12-11-2012 03:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In my opinion, if Cernan had died or for whatever reason become unavailable for Apollo 17 early in the training process, the slot could very well have been given to someone like Gordon if he were still there, or Haise. As opposed to having Scott or Young make a second landing. But at some point it becomes impractical and too late and you need to stick with whom you've chosen as backup.

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