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  Wally SCHIRRA interview by Francis FRENCH

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Author Topic:   Wally SCHIRRA interview by Francis FRENCH
Philip
Member

Posts: 4913
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 02-23-2002 04:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This great interview was published in the November 2001 issue of the International Monthly magazine "Spaceflight" of BIS ( Vol 43 N 11 - pages 471 to 475 ). Back-issues are still available!
Always a nice surprise to see which of the astronauts Francis FRENCH could meet and have an interview with ...
Thanks Francis !
Philip ( BIS -member )

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 28458
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-23-2002 09:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Actually, Philip -- you are only partially correct. The interview in Spaceflight was an edited, abbreviated version of the article we have here. Francis graciously allowed collectSPACE to publish to the uncut interview.

Tom
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Posts: 1314
From: New York
Registered: Nov 2000

posted 02-23-2002 12:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I found the interview with Wally Schirra very interesting.
I never knew that once an astronaut commanded an Apollo (pre-lunar or lunar) mission, that he couldn't command a second one.
I guess that explains why Deke Slayton originally wanted to assign Jim McDivitt as lunar module pilot on Al Shepards (original) Apollo 13 crew.
Tom

Philip
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Posts: 4913
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 02-23-2002 12:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You're right ROBERT ... I just wanted to point out that the same subject was in the BIS international monthly magazine ... which is in my opinion a superb Spaceflight magazine and I don't know if our American friends are familiar with it ...

Cindys_1
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posted 02-23-2002 08:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cindys_1   Click Here to Email Cindys_1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert,

Thanks for a very interesting article!

Francis is a correspondent of mine, and helped me out with a Space Unit article. He is also a very nice person!

Thanks Francis if you are out there somewhere!

------------------
Cindy

Cindys_1
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posted 02-23-2002 08:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cindys_1   Click Here to Email Cindys_1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Phillip,

Didn't you post a new url for the BIS?
Can you post it again.....I forgot to mark it...

Thx!
Cindy

Philip
Member

Posts: 4913
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 02-24-2002 03:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here it is CINDY ...
Don't hesitate to contact me if You have questions ... Ph.Corneille@skynet.be
www.bis-spaceflight.com

Cindys_1
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posted 02-24-2002 08:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cindys_1   Click Here to Email Cindys_1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Philip:
Here it is CINDY ...
Don't hesitate to contact me if You have questions ... Ph.Corneille@skynet.be
www.bis-spaceflight.com


Will do Philip!
Thanks much!

------------------
Cindy

uzzi69
Member

Posts: 181
From: Richmond, IN USA
Registered: Jun 2001

posted 02-24-2002 01:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for uzzi69   Click Here to Email uzzi69     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A GREAT interview with Wally Schirra.

There seems to be a little bit of " tension " between Wally, and Walt Cunningham. Does anyone know what the story behind this was?

Thanks, Bill uzzi69

Dennis Talbot
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Posts: 172
From: Terrigal NSW Australia
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 02-24-2002 02:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dennis Talbot   Click Here to Email Dennis Talbot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After reading the article especially the bit about no Apollo Commander getting two flights with the exception of Stafford. This got me thinking about Pete Conrad who got a second Saturn command flight in SL-2. Does the Skylab programme not count as part of the Apollo programme? As I understand things the name of the Skylab programme was Apollo Applications. Am I mistaken in my beliefs? I am not trying to be provocative just interested.
Dennis

WAWalsh
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Posts: 802
From: Cortlandt Manor, NY
Registered: May 2000

posted 02-25-2002 09:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for WAWalsh   Click Here to Email WAWalsh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Apollo Applications was one of the early names, if not the original name, for the Skylab program. Since each launch utilized a Saturn 1B, one would presume that Pete Conrad could be listed with Tom Stafford in the comment. I expect, however, that Wally Schirra was viewing each mission as relating to Skylab, rather than the launch vehicle (I suppose, arguably, a refitted Gemini could have handled the docking). Skylab was a separate vehicle and, presumably, command was transfered to it as soon as the crew established quarters within the lab. Given all of the initial work that the first crew had to do in order to make Skylab habitable, I expect that they did spend a fair amount of time in the CM at the outset.
Wally Schirra's comment did cause a brief finger count. The various Apollo missions (through 17) were commanded by the two remaining Mercury astronauts, all seven surviving Group 2 astronauts, and two of the Group 3 astronauts (with Dick Gordon scheduled to command the cancelled Apollo 18). It certainly does appear that the line was well established and packed with little room for movement.
The other element of the interview that caught my attention was Wally Schirra's awareness of the various efforts to portray the early space program on the screen. The article contained a number of references to both "The Right Stuff" and HBO's series with Schirra's efforts to correct or qualify a number of representations (such as Deke Slayton's inability to swim making the scene in "the Right Stuff" absurd). This stands a bit in contrast to the available literature. The article contains references (unless I missed some and excluding the reference to "Schirra's Space)) to only two books, Walt Cunningham's and Chris Kraft's autobiographies.

All in all, as already said, a great article.

FFrench
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Posts: 3095
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 02-26-2002 04:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was just browsing around Robert's website (I have not posted in here before) and came across this little discussion. I'm very pleased to hear that everyone enjoyed the interview so much! It was certainly fun to do- Wally is quite a character!!

Philip, you are correct that some of it appeared in 'Spaceflight' before (where I've recently had interview articles published with Al Worden, Dick Gordon, John Young, Gordo Cooper, Gene Cernan and the surviving ASTP crew), but for reasons of space (no pun intended) it was severely cut down to under half its original size. Wally told so many great stories that I really wanted to air the whole thing somewhere. Besides, it is great to have it on the web as a longlasting resource, rather than only easily available for a month.

Francis.

FFrench
Member

Posts: 3095
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 02-26-2002 04:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello again,

Philip, I really enjoy reading your work in 'Spaceflight' magazine- I'm glad to see that you are in there most months these days! I certainly recommend subcribing to it, to read Philip's great work.

Tom, I was also intrigued by Schirra's assertion that an astronaut would only get to command one Apollo mission. Dennis, you are correct that Schirra did not think Skylab and ASTP 'counted' in this.

But remember too that this is a first-hand account given 30 years after the events. People tend to remember things as they like, which is why many of the astronaut autobiographies differ on these details. Slayton and Shepard would certainly change the unwritten rules whenever they liked - so who knows for sure? Crew selection as a process was always kept pretty secret, with all options open.

As for 'tension' between Schirra and other astronauts- Wally is a pretty forthright person. He said some things about some of the other astronauts that I could NOT use in the article, and won't disclose!! But (perhaps it does not come over well on the written page), all of his comments were said with a grin and a chuckle- at the end of the day, those guys teased each other, made fun of each other, still do, but for the most part are all still very close.

Francis.

FFrench
Member

Posts: 3095
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 02-26-2002 04:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm still reading through what everyone said...

WAWalsh, you are correct that Wally is very up to date on book, TV and movie adaptations of the space program. When we had lunch, the waitress was disappointed he didn't have Mark Harmon with him this time, as he had met him there previously so that Harmon could discuss playing him in 'From the Earth to the Moon'.

The questions about that show came from me- but Wally's references to The Right Stuff were of his own initiative. He was also telling me about how he had recently gone to see 'Space Cowboys' in the movie theater, and had chuckled all the way through it! I could see why, it could almost have been written for him.

I did research using all of the available book resources for my research for the interview, but referenced only those that were directly referenced or drawn upon at the end of the article. As I said, many of these books, while being primary sources, disagree with each other, and many rely on decades-old memories. With the personalities involved in the space program, there is bound to be disagreement. Rather than trying to give an impossible, definitive account, I thought this would be a good opportunity to hear Schirra's version of events.

Francis.

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