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  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  Nixon at Apollo 12 launch: Schedule effect?

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Author Topic:   Nixon at Apollo 12 launch: Schedule effect?
Fra Mauro
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Posts: 1047
From: Maspeth, NY
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 10-07-2013 08:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How much of a factor was Pres. Nixon's attendance a factor in the launch of Apollo 12? I don't imply that he ordered it; just perhaps was there underlying pressure to show the Chief Executive how NASA launched on time?

J.L
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Posts: 420
From: Bloomington, Illinois, USA
Registered: May 2005

posted 10-07-2013 10:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for J.L   Click Here to Email J.L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
None. I have spoken to Paul Donnelly a couple of times about this. Paul was the Launch Operations Manager at KSC during the Apollo launches.

Paul will tell you that the weather conditions were a concern, but they were not in violation of any predetermined limits. When the Nixon question is brought up, he says there was absolutely no pressure to launch. If you know Paul, you know he is a straight shooter.

Spacepsycho
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Posts: 715
From: Huntington Beach, Calif.
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 10-07-2013 10:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacepsycho   Click Here to Email Spacepsycho     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember the same charges being levied against the NASA launch team after Challenger exploded. It was said that Pres. Reagan wanted to mention the Challenger crew in orbit during his State of the Union speech that evening. Someone in the press accused NASA of having "Go Fever" and pushed the launch forward, even though there were weather/ice concerns.

If I remember correctly, none of the launch team at KSC or JSC were aware of or briefed about the concerns expressed by the Thiokol engineers dealing with the O-ring performance in cold weather. That said, there were nine SRB O-ring burnthroughs on previous missions in temps from 54 to 73 degrees. So it was obvious that someone put their management hat on and made the launch decision that caused the destruction of Challenger and her crew.

alanh_7
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Posts: 932
From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 10-07-2013 11:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had a chance to ask Gerry Griffin about Apollo 12. He said it was a case where winds were okay but they never imagined the dangers the vapor trail could cause acting as a lightning rod. It was once of those things that they did not think of and they only did it once and learned their lesson.

He did say as his first mission as lead flight controller he had one of those 'why me' moments. But that passed quickly and they moved on to salvaging the mission.

Fra Mauro
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Posts: 1047
From: Maspeth, NY
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 10-08-2013 09:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was not implying that NASA had "go fever," just a little extra "trying to please the big boss" feeling.

Orthon
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Posts: 111
From: Gilbert, Arizona 85296
Registered: May 2002

posted 10-08-2013 04:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Orthon   Click Here to Email Orthon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was fourteen at the time. I couldn't believe that they were proceeding with the launch until the cameras zoomed in on Nixon. I remember my disgust — Nixon with a big smile on his face, basking in the Apollo glory that he had nothing to do with. The man determined to stop the Saturn V production line — thereby throwing away this nation's fantastic capability of exploring the inner solar system. Yes sir, no pressure.

All times are CT (US)

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