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  Borman's decision not to walk on the moon

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Author Topic:   Borman's decision not to walk on the moon
Lunatiki
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posted 06-13-2007 11:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunatiki   Click Here to Email Lunatiki     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's my understanding that if Commander Borman had wanted to have a lunar landing mission, he would of gotten it. Perhaps a shot at the first landing, or at least in the running along with Pete Conrad. I know its not something most would decline. Has he ever talked about this decision, any regrets and why he made it? I'm assuming a good part of it has to do with the toll NASA had been taking on his personal life, but were there other reasons? Thanks...

Joel

PS. A bit of trivia, I'm not sure if I'm right about, but how many of the astronauts in the Apollo program had marriages that survived and didn't divorce? I can think of 2.

spaced out
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posted 06-14-2007 01:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think it's all explained in his autobiography "Countdown", although I can't remember the details now.

I'd recommend the book for any Apollo fan. I think before I read it I had the impression that he was a pretty tough character who would never admit to doubts or mistakes but the book is really frank, honest and balanced.

The later part covers his time at Eastern but this too is very interesting and the clash with the Unions is as relevant today as it was then.

mjanovec
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posted 06-14-2007 10:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lunatiki:
PS. A bit of trivia, I'm not sure if I'm right about, but how many of the astronauts in the Apollo program had marriages that survived and didn't divorce? I can think of 2.
The entire Apollo 8 crew is still married to their first wives. Beyond that, there is Charlie Duke and Michael Collins. If one goes pre-Apollo, then you can add John Glenn to the list.

Also, Jim Irwin, Wally Schirra, and Al Shepard were married to their first wives at the time of their passing. The same might be true of Ron Evans and Stuart Roosa, but I'm not certain at the moment.

Edited by mjanovec

mjanovec
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posted 06-14-2007 11:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spaced out:
the book is really frank, honest and balanced.

Because the man himself is really Frank.

jasonelam
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posted 06-17-2007 08:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In the Apollo program, the ones whose marriages survived Apollo up to today were Schirra, Borman, Lovell, Anders, Collins, Roosa, Shepard, Irwin, Duke, and Evans.

Gemini had an even less number, with only 4 of the astronauts marriages surviving.

Mercury had four of seven.

I didnt know that Dave Scott and his wife had split until I read two sides of the moon. Has he gotten remarried since?

FFrench
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posted 06-26-2007 12:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
Also, Jim Irwin, Wally Schirra, and Al Shepard were married to their first wives at the time of their passing.

While Jim Irwin was married to the same person he was married to when he entered the space program - a marriage that lasted from 1959 until he passed away in 1991 - it was in fact his second marriage.

mjanovec
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posted 06-26-2007 04:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by FFrench:
While Jim Irwin was married to the same person he was married to when he entered the space program - a marriage that lasted from 1959 until he passed away in 1991 - it was in fact his second marriage.

I did not know that. Thanks for setting the record straight.

capoetc
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posted 06-26-2007 07:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In Borman's JSC Oral History, he says he would not have gone to the moon after the first landing. (See page 48).

"To me, it wasn't worth it. It wasn't worth assuming the risks because I wasn't inclined to go pick up rocks."

He also said that, since he hadn't spent a lot of time already learning the LM, it would have taken him longer to learn it.

------------------
John Capobianco
Camden DE

kr4mula
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posted 06-26-2007 11:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I always wonder about those types of comments. Is it true, or is Borman just rationalizing after the fact? As a military man, test pilot, and astronaut, being one of the first humans to step foot on the moon wouldn't be worth the risk, just because you weren't THE first? I didn't see him turning down a Gemini flight just because he wasn't the first. He's not inclined to pick up rocks on the moon, yet will sit in a capsule for 14 days as a guinea pig on the 4th flight of the program? Right. I also didn't see him turn down his Apollo flight before it was decided they'd be the first around the moon. He was supposed to be high earth orbital before, right? Again, he's happy to improve slightly on what others did before in orbit, but not on the moon itself? In this context, his argument seems to hold little water.

I suspect the larger issues with his wife play into his definition of "risk" at the time. His book discusses her Apollo 8 paranoia and after that, perhaps he couldn't imagine what actually landing on the moon would do to her and his marriage. I suspect some of the other astronauts (and lots of others!) wouldn't make that same judgment. Perhaps prior to Apollo 8, he would've been happy to get back in line to pick up rocks. For putting his family over this unique opportunity, Borman should get a lot of respect. Kudos to him.

Cheers,

Kevin

Edited by kr4mula

capoetc
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posted 06-26-2007 12:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by kr4mula:
I always wonder about those types of comments. Is it true, or is Borman just rationalizing after the fact? ....

I recommend you download and read Borman's oral history interview if you haven't already. He is a no-nonsense guy, and in his view the mission was to land on the moon by the end of the decade. Once that was done, the Apollo mission was over in his mind.

FWIW, I believe he is being sincere and honest in his interview. I also think the training grind of having to go through a back-up crew assignment (while learning the LM from scratch) and then a primary crew assignment likely had a lot to do with it.

Presumably, he might have been 2 more years in the pressure cooker if he had stayed around to walk on the moon.

It is easy to say, "Why not just hang around for another mission," but being an astronaut is really hard, all-consuming work. It demands 100% of your effort and energy. And, if he felt the mission had been accomplished on Apollo 11, then it stands to reason that he would not hang around two more years to go to the moon again and "pick up rocks."

Borman also says that his biggest contribution to Apollo was NOT on Apollo 8 -- it was at the North American plant at Downey, doing configuration control for the Command Module after The Fire.

Incidentally, I've said it before in these forums, but I'll say it again: the JSC Oral Histories are a gold mine of information! Every single time I read one, I learn something new! And there are many oral histories done on folks who you hardly ever hear about: John Aaron. Sig Sjoberg. Bob Voas. Jim Head. Joe Algranti.

And there are histories for folks you know about: Dee O'Hara, for example. At the KSC show earlier this month, I spoke to her and mentioned that I read her oral history -- she seemed to have forgotten about it (I think it was done 8 years ago), but she was pleased that it was available and people could get to it if they wanted to. I mentioned her comment in her interview about Neil Armstrong, where she mentioned to him in the run-up to the Apollo 11 flight that there were cars lined up all over the roads and up the coast to see the launch. His reply? "Yeah, I guess people are going to make a big deal out of this."

Yeah, I guess so.

Anyway, they are interesting and informative, and best of all, they are FREE.

------------------
John Capobianco
Camden DE

MCroft04
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posted 06-26-2007 09:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by capoetc:
"To me, it wasn't worth it. It wasn't worth assuming the risks because I wasn't inclined to go pick up rocks."
And what's wrong with picking up rocks? Sure am glad that Dave Scott and others didn't take that attitude. I agree with previous posts, in my opinion it had more to do with his personal life.
Edited by MCroft04

kr4mula
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posted 06-27-2007 11:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by capoetc:

Incidentally, I've said it before in these forums, but I'll say it again: the JSC Oral Histories are a gold mine of information! Every single time I read one, I learn something new! And there are many oral histories done on folks who you hardly ever hear about: John Aaron. Sig Sjoberg. Bob Voas. Jim Head. Joe Algranti.
Anyway, they are interesting and informative, and best of all, they are FREE.


John,

I'm glad to see you plug the JSC oral histories, since I used to work for that project and did quite a few of the interviews, including John Aaron's. We tried hard and spent a lot of time researching in preparation for talking to these historic figures so that the interviews would have some lasting value. This was especially important for those lesser-known folks since we were the first and only people to interview them about their lives and careers. My former colleagues are still doing a great job at JSC and I alwasy look forward to their posting new transcripts.

So yes, I've read Borman's interview. I have no doubt he was sincere in what he says. I meant to raise two issues: the interpretation of "risk" in his case and the more general use of these sorts of disclaimers by other guys that missed out on the lunar landings, since those sorts of claims have been heard elsewhere. Borman specifically mentioned it not being worth "the risk." Does that mean what we'd assume: the loss of his life on a flight? Or is the risk really the metaphorical loss of his life here on Earth. I suspect the latter.

Cheers,

Kevin

mjanovec
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posted 06-28-2007 04:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Plus, one has to figure that Borman saw the impacts of the deaths of the Apollo 1 crew on the families of those left behind. Even if he didn't fear for his own life, he probably feared what his own death would do to his family.

Once Apollo 11 was successful and that cold war battle with the Soviets was won, Borman perhaps didn't see any point in risking his life for the scientific goals of Apollo. To him, an Air Force officer, beating the Soviets was his main interest.

All times are CT (US)

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