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  What Did People Think About Latter Apollo Crews?

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Author Topic:   What Did People Think About Latter Apollo Crews?
trajan
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posted 07-10-2005 04:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for trajan   Click Here to Email trajan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Today, 30+ years after the events, we accept as common knowledge the identities of all the Apollo crews who landed. However, there is still a great deal of debate about the likes of Jim McDivitt and Gene Cernan being offered LMP slots, as Moon seats were obviously a major prize.

I am 34 and therefore have no recollection of the Apollo missions, but my question is this (respectfully to older contributors!) : how much of a surprise was it that, on only the 3rd (planned) landing mission, and thereafter,every mission, two thirds of the crew were rookies?

Duke Of URL
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posted 07-10-2005 06:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yeah, I noticed that and I think it's because the "Old Heads" were retired/retiring or moved to other jobs.

It was interesting to see who was selected. back then there was a lot of "Jim Irwin???" going on because they weren't really well-known individuals back then.

As a kid, I was surprised McDivitt, Borman, Stafford etc DIDN'T land on the Moon, but I was unaware of the gyrations - retirements, advancement etc. - in the Astronaut Office.

How's that for a big blast of hot gas? I hope it was helpful.

Tom
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posted 07-10-2005 07:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm sure, if he really wanted it, Jim McDivitt could have been CDR on Apollo 13. The only problem is, he wanted his Apollo 9 crew mates to fly with him, and Dave Scott was already preparing for his flight on Apollo 15.
As far as Gene Cernan refusing the assignment as LMP on Apollo 16, I think he "lucked out" by being offered the CDR slot on "17". That assignment could have gone to Mike Collins or Dick Gordon.

Ryan Walters
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posted 07-10-2005 07:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ryan Walters   Click Here to Email Ryan Walters     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yeah this is true. And I think a lot of the older guys, those who had been around since Mercury and Gemini, were tired of the grind of training. I know Schirra and Borman have made such comments and possibly McDivitt as well.

Duke Of URL
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posted 07-10-2005 08:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My belief is Frank Borman retired because of the toll NASA was taking on his family.

That's a pretty human thing for a reputed stiff-neck like FB to do.

Ed Krutulis
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posted 07-10-2005 09:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ed Krutulis   Click Here to Email Ed Krutulis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

I remember reading that NASA had a rule that once you commanded an Apollo mission, you could not command another Apollo mission.

If you were a CMP on an earlier mission, you were perfectly in line to command a later lunar mission.

Henry_Heatherbank
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posted 07-10-2005 10:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Henry_Heatherbank     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Surely the proof of this pudding is in the eating; all the later crews performed to expectations, all mission objectives were accomplished, and there were no life-threatening 'near-misses' caused by the rookies.

Contrast that with the ASTP re-entry problems caused partly by the CDR failing to throw various switches to stop toxic RCS gases entering the CM (covered previously on this forum).

Also it must be remembered these "rookies" were very highly trained and in some cases had a more thorough knowledge of spacecraft systems than many of the more senior guys who had been immersed in Gemini. For instance, in one sense Haise was the right guy to have aboard 13 given his background with the LM. Same for Mattingly as CMP on 16 when they had the engine gimbal problem after the LM had undocked.

Also, many of the guys called into to troubleshoot the on-orbit problems were the respective spacecraft "specialists" drawn from the 1966 astro class, all of whom at those times were still "rookies". Some of the MOCR photos during 13 prove this point, showing, variously, Engle, Evans, Brand and others in attendance.

The term "rookie" therefore understates the experience these guys brought to their respective missions when they finally flew.

Duke Of URL
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posted 07-11-2005 01:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Henry_Heatherbank:
Surely the proof of this pudding is in the eating; all the later crews performed to expectations, all mission objectives were accomplished, and there were no life-threatening 'near-misses' caused by the rookies.

Contrast that with the ASTP re-entry problems caused partly by the CDR failing to throw various switches to stop toxic RCS gases entering the CM (covered previously on this forum).

Also it must be remembered these "rookies" were very highly trained and in some cases had a more thorough knowledge of spacecraft systems than many of the more senior guys who had been immersed in Gemini. For instance, in one sense Haise was the right guy to have aboard 13 given his background with the LM. Same for Mattingly as CMP on 16 when they had the engine gimbal problem after the LM had undocked.

Also, many of the guys called into to troubleshoot the on-orbit problems were the respective spacecraft "specialists" drawn from the 1966 astro class, all of whom at those times were still "rookies". Some of the MOCR photos during 13 prove this point, showing, variously, Engle, Evans, Brand and others in attendance.

The term "rookie" therefore understates the experience these guys brought to their respective missions when they finally flew.



Bologna!

Henry_Heatherbank
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posted 07-11-2005 02:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Henry_Heatherbank     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Duke

Are you suggesting the rookies were undertrained or that the presence of unflown astros on these missions somehow impacted on the outcome? Would you same the same about SL-4 or STS 2/Columbia, perhaps?

Henry

trajan
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posted 07-11-2005 03:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for trajan   Click Here to Email trajan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Henry, I didn't mean to imply that anybody was under-trained or under-performed and I certainly don't use the term "rookie" in a negative sense. My question was more about whether people at the time were shocked / surprised that better known astronauts weren't flying on the most prestigious missions ever. Duke seems to acknowledge that he felt this way at the time. Thanks :-)

FFrench
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posted 07-11-2005 04:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Henry_Heatherbank:
Surely the proof of this pudding is in the eating; all the later crews performed to expectations, all mission objectives were accomplished, and there were no life-threatening 'near-misses' caused by the rookies.

Contrast that with the ASTP re-entry problems caused partly by the CDR failing to throw various switches to stop toxic RCS gases entering the CM.


I believe that it was actually Vance Brand, not the commander, who omitted to operate the two Earth landing system switches that would deploy the parachutes and deactivate the thrusters. And while I don't think it has any relevance to his actions, he was a rookie.

FF

mark plas
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posted 07-11-2005 05:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mark plas   Click Here to Email mark plas     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
will guys like borman mcdivitt stafford and collins have any second thought about their decision not to stay on the flight rotation and land on the moon?They could have been part of that special group of 12 people to walk on the moon

Blackarrow
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posted 07-11-2005 09:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was only 14 when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, but I had known the names of the 3 crewmembers for several months before launch. I found out the names of the Apollo 12 crew from a newspaper article in about September, 1969. During the latter part of Apollo (after Apollo 14) I picked up news of crew selections and landing-site selections from a little magazine ("Science Horizons"??)distributed by the US Information Service from the US Embassy in London. In a bygone era with no internet, no CNN and no satellite TV, this was probably the earliest anyone "out of the loop" could get information without actually phoning NASA (and in those days making an international phone-call would have been a BIG deal!)

When each of the last three Apollo crews was selected and I got the newsin my copy of "Science Horizons", I remember that I definitely recognised the names of the commanders (Scott, Young and Cernan) and of course I recognised Charlie Duke as Apollo 11 Capcom and Ken Mattingly as the "bumped" Apollo 13 CMP, but the other astronauts were completely unknown to me. It really was a case of Jim who? and Harrison who?

trajan
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posted 07-12-2005 04:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for trajan   Click Here to Email trajan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Blackarrow, that's really interesting. Shocking (although not surprising, unfortunately), that you could only find out the identities of the last 3 crews through a small circulation magazine. Thanks for sharing that

robsouth
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posted 07-13-2005 02:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
James Irwin was a very experienced astronaut and if events in his life had happened differently then he could have been the commander on Apollo 15 rather than the younger Scott.

mark plas
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posted 07-13-2005 03:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mark plas   Click Here to Email mark plas     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That s so true about Irwin if he didn t had that crash in the early sixties he would have been in the second group of astronauts and commanded his own mission. Irwin and Cernan are my favourite astronauts.

Mark

Blackarrow
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posted 07-14-2005 08:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Even though I had never heard of Jim Irwin, Harrison Schmitt (or Ed Mitchell)much before their missions, by the time they launched I had full biographies, detailed plans of each mission, maps of the landing sites, everything.

Some very interesting comments about Jim Irwin. I met him three times and was very impressed by him. Perhaps he would have commanded his own mission if he had been selected earlier, but - and I really hope this won't be taken as a slight or a negative comment - my impression was and is that Jim Irwin was at his best as the quiet, dependable, reliable and knowledgeable "side-kick" to the more outgoing Dave Scott. Irwin was a first-class LM pilot, on a par with Haise and Mitchell. I have heard Dave Scott publically praise Jim Irwin as the best companion on the Moon he could have wished for, and one of the dedications in his book "Two Sides of the Moon" is to Jim Irwin, "..my partner on the Moon, the very best." Straight from the horse's mouth!

robsouth
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posted 07-17-2005 03:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"quiet, dependable, reliable and knowledgeable," remind you of someone else? Perhaps Neil Armstrong, and noone would say he didn't make a good commander

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