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  Your personal favourite space explorer(s)

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Author Topic:   Your personal favourite space explorer(s)
AstroAutos
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Posts: 724
From: Monaghan Town, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
Registered: Mar 2009

posted 03-29-2009 09:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Who is/are your favourite astronaut(s) of all time? They can be from any era or mission.

Please tell why you like these particular astronauts, whether it be for personal reasons, or for the simple reason that you admire what they have done for the manned space program!

Best Wishes, Shane!

Delta7
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Posts: 1153
From: Ossian IN USA
Registered: Oct 2007

posted 03-29-2009 10:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would have to say Neil Armstrong is my #1, not just for the obvious reasons. I like his character, demeanor and attitude.

Gus Grissom would be #2. He's the one I would have most liked to have had a couple of beers with.

Deke Slayton, John Young and Story Musgrave round out the top 5. Slayton for his role in and impact on the first 23 years of the program; Young and Musgrave for the number and types of missions they flew.

And I can't make such a list without including Pete Conrad.

AstroAutos
Member

Posts: 724
From: Monaghan Town, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
Registered: Mar 2009

posted 03-29-2009 11:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just for the record my top 5 favourite astronauts would have to be (in no order):
  1. Frank Borman - simply because I admire the type of person he is and the fact that he commanded the first mission to the moon.

  2. Sally Ride - I had to include a female astronaut and why not the most famous of them all?

  3. John Glenn - for his continued kindness to his fans and also being able to say that you were the 1st man to orbit the earth, as well as the oldest man in space is quite a feat!

  4. Jim Lovell - simply because he flew on 4 key flights (Gemini 7 and 12, as well as Apollo 8 and 13).

  5. Alan Shepard - one of the original Mercury Seven, and the only one from this group to go on and walk on the moon on Apollo 14!
Others I admire include Neil Armstrong (obviously), John Young as he not only flew on Apollo 10 and 16, but on two Space Shuttle missions, Edward White (first EVA), Charlie Duke, and Daniel Tani as he was the first Irish person in space (well, not quite, but his wife is irish!

Shane

stsmithva
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Posts: 1319
From: Centreville, VA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 03-29-2009 11:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by AstroAutos:
also being able to say that you were the 1st man to orbit the earth,

Please don't forget poor Yuri!

ejectr
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Posts: 1488
From: Brimfield, MA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 03-29-2009 12:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scott Carpenter because the man epitomizes the many definitions of "cool" and has no need to explain it.

robsouth
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Posts: 607
From: West Midlands, UK
Registered: Jun 2005

posted 03-29-2009 12:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As a member of another group I conducted a vote amongst it's members and the results can be seen here.

WAWalsh
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Posts: 791
From: Cortlandt Manor, NY
Registered: May 2000

posted 03-29-2009 10:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for WAWalsh   Click Here to Email WAWalsh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is an odd thing. Like many here, I lived through most or all of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions and, as a kid, that is who I wanted to be and I admire and know the details of their deeds and accomplishments. For a lot of us, it is very easy to go through the Al Shepards, John Youngs, Pete Conrads and, even Alexi Leonovs and give them standing ovations.

I was recently reading through Gene Cernan's NASA oral history (think it was Cernan's anyway) and came across a point worth repeating. He was noting that it is a shame that the astronauts who are part of the shuttle program do not get the same recognition as those in the earlier programs because, his words, many are much more talented and accomplished. The point he was making seems to have a lot of validity. I have no idea how to measure Bill Shepherd against Al Shepard or Pinky Nelson against Dick Gordan or Pam Melroy against Scott Carpenter, but other than a small handful of astronauts (such as Story Musgrave) it does seem that those involoved in the shuttle program get the short end of the stick on questions such as the one in this thread.

Today provides a case in point. In Westchester, I had the opportunity to meet TJ Hart. One mission over 20 years ago, but still willing to spend his time in the barrel in order to promote engineering and an absolute gentleman. He was direct, friendly and spoke at length with everyone who stopped by to meet him. Without request, he provided great inscriptions on photos for each of my kids (only one daughter was there as both boys were down with late winter colds). Dave Hilmers was just as kind with my guys last month.

Not sure that I can even sum up this ramble, other than to suggest that each astronaut deserves our respect and appreciation.

ilbasso
Member

Posts: 1494
From: Greensboro, NC USA
Registered: Feb 2006

posted 03-30-2009 01:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is interesting to hear the Shuttle-era astros talk about the M/G/A astros. At Spacefest, Charlie Walker told me that history will look back on the M/G/A astronauts as "the Columbuses and Magellans of our age." Alan Bean said something similar, that history will probably even forget Mercury, Gemini, and Skylab, and only remember the Apollo moon landings from our times.

In my opinion, we look at the M/G/A astronauts with a different lens because they were the first to do what they did. They were the true pioneers, from a time when we didn't know if you could sleep or swallow in space, or if the LM would sink into the dust on the moon.

Something equivalent is that the average person has probably heard of the Red Baron and Eddie Rickenbacker, but would be hard pressed to name any aces from World War II. It's not to discount their accomplishments - which were much more challenging - just that they were not the first ones to do it.

I'll bet that the average American adult can probably remember Sally Ride as the first American woman in space, but probably couldn't tell you who any other American woman astronauts were except Christa McAuliffe, and her only because of the Challenger disaster. They would remember Christa as the first teacher in space, but they likely wouldn't remember Judy Resnick, who was on the same flight but didn't have the "first" distinction.

In my mind, that's why the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts loom larger in our minds. It's not to discount the courage, tenacity, competence, guts, and personality of the Shuttle astronauts - those qualities are beyond reproach. It's just that with Shuttle, things are more routine.

That, and perhaps us old f*rts just have a hard time keeping up with everything that happened since the 1970's!

AstroAutos
Member

Posts: 724
From: Monaghan Town, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
Registered: Mar 2009

posted 03-30-2009 03:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by WAWalsh:
other than to suggest that each astronaut deserves our respect and appreciation.
Hear Hear! Any Man/Woman who puts their life on the line by being blasted off into the unknown for the benefit of mankind deserves our recognition!

mjanovec
Member

Posts: 3593
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 03-30-2009 03:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ilbasso:
In my mind, that's why the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts loom larger in our minds. It's not to discount the courage, tenacity, competence, guts, and personality of the Shuttle astronauts - those qualities are beyond reproach. It's just that with Shuttle, things are more routine.
I was mostly agreeing with what you said... until you got to this part. With all due respect, I don't think one can really say that anything the shuttle astronauts do is "routine" ...when basically each flight still contains new tasks and challenges that have never been done before. And the tasks that are done on every flight (launch and re-entry) are still hazardous enough that they can never be taken for granted. The difference is that, to the public at large, those tasks now seem to be largely routine... because we've all gotten used the high success rate of the shuttle astronauts. In reality, I think the challenges faced by the shuttle crews are no greater or no less than those faced by the Apollo crews. I would argue that it's mostly a matter of perception.

Also, I think the shuttle astronauts are often the victims of their own success... the better the job they do (and the easier they make it look), the more we tend to take them for granted. It's only when a tragedy occurs that most people step back and realize how spaceflight is never routine.

chappy
Member

Posts: 213
From: Cardiff, S. Wales, UK
Registered: Apr 2006

posted 03-30-2009 04:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chappy   Click Here to Email chappy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would say my favourite(s) is:
  1. John Young, for his 42 yrs service at NASA, including 6 flights ranging from Gemini to Space Shuttle, a feat that will never be broken by any astronauts.

  2. Sally Ride, for opening the doors for women to fly into space, and the 1st woman (American) into space.

  3. John Glenn, he went into space at the age of 77 years old, proving no matter how old you are can fly into space at any age.

  4. Eileen Collins, the best 'man' for the job is a woman which she becomes the 1st female shuttle commander.

  5. The STS-51L and STS-107 crews, for putting their lives at risk to seek what out in the mysterious of Human Manned Spaceflight which ended in tragedy.

ilbasso
Member

Posts: 1494
From: Greensboro, NC USA
Registered: Feb 2006

posted 03-30-2009 04:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
I was mostly agreeing with what you said... until you got to this part. With all due respect, I don't think one can really say that anything the shuttle astronauts do is "routine" ...when basically each flight still contains new tasks and challenges that have never been done before.


I agree with you 100%. I didn't mean to imply that the STS was routine - every flight is a nail-biter as far as I'm concerned. It was that for the 'average Joe,' it has become more routine. The same was even true for Apollo, viz the lack of coverage of even Apollo 13 before the time of the accident.

I think that the sheer number of astronauts makes it harder for us to pick out favorites in the Shuttle crews, too. I can recite every Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo flight and their crews, but I can't make it past the first 3 or 4 Shuttle flights before I lose track of who flew when. Again, the people I tend to remember are those who did the 'firsts' - satellite retrieval, flying the MMU, deploying Hubble - and the victims of tragedies.

Nearly 500 people have been in space. It's easier to remember the first 30 than the last 470.

Rob Joyner
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Posts: 1292
From: GA, USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 03-30-2009 06:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Joyner   Click Here to Email Rob Joyner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John Young.

Four decades of NASA service.
First to fly in space six times.
First Gemini/two man crew member.
First to orbit the Moon solo.
Ninth Moonwalker.
First Space Shuttle Commander.
Only Moonwalker to fly the shuttle.

And if that's not enough, Young is one of very few men who can walk into a room and take absolute control, even while wearing a white turtleneck!

I'll never forget the first time I met Young. It was at the ASF Gala Dinner years ago under the Saturn V. I wiped my hand what seemed like a thousand times on my coat trying to get rid of the nervous sweat before shaking his hand.

That memory is a definite keeper.

ASCAN1984
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Posts: 1004
From: County Down, Nothern Ireland
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 04-01-2009 02:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ASCAN1984   Click Here to Email ASCAN1984     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My word, that's a hard one. I would have to say two astronauts who are probably the opposites of each other. Alan Bean and Gene Cernan and Jim Dutton.

Alan Bean doesn't receive as much recognition as he should. He really came into his own thanks to the great Pete Conrad who saw what others failed to see. How good as astronaut he was. He doesn't appear to have gone for the macho world that some other went for (not that there is anything wrong with that) while being quite quiet and generally a very good guy.

The second is Eugene Cernan (no explanation necessary as it's Eugene Cernan). A legend who can grab you and pull you in with his vivid descriptions and memories.

Here is one for the future: Jim Dutton. Although he hasn't flown in space yet, but is assigned, he took the time to write to me, apologizing for not replying to me sooner and wrote some very kind comments about my interest in spaceflight. Seemed to be a really nice person but there is one more thing why he is on my list. From the day I saw him with the rest of the 2004 astronaut class online at Space Day I got a feeling that he was destined for the moon. I can't explain it but time will tell.

I completely agree with a previous statement. Modern astronauts just don't get enough credit.

SBIV-B
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Posts: 34
From: Buford, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2008

posted 04-01-2009 03:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SBIV-B     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Big Al" Shepard was the man! Never give in! Never give up!

AstroAutos
Member

Posts: 724
From: Monaghan Town, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
Registered: Mar 2009

posted 04-01-2009 04:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ASCAN1984:
Here is one for the furture: Jim Dutton.
Interesting call - if your opinion is right about him going to the moon we better all start writing to him now! I see that he is assigned as pilot of STS-131 scheduled for launch on Feb. 11, 2010 so only time will tell!

DChudwin
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Posts: 972
From: Lincolnshire IL USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 04-01-2009 04:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
  1. Wally Schirra. A superb pilot but an even better human being.

  2. Pete Conrad. A talented test pilot and a great personality.

  3. Jim McDivitt. Probably one of the smartest of the astronauts, a straight-talker
    whose accomplishments are under-rated.

  4. John Young. A quirky personality but a great engineer who is willing to speak the truth.

  5. John Glenn. A true patriot who was an outstanding test pilot and who has worn fame well.

AstroAutos
Member

Posts: 724
From: Monaghan Town, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
Registered: Mar 2009

posted 04-02-2009 10:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ASCAN1984:
feeling that he was destined for the moon. I can't explain it but time will tell.
Just one thing though on Jim Dutton. You said that you feel he is destined for the moon. However, Orion is only scheduled to take astronauts to the moon around the year 2020, by which time James Dutton will be 52 years of age. Considering that Alan Shepard was the oldest to walk on the moon at the age of 47, Jim Dutton walking on the moon would seem slightly unlikely - I mean it is possible, but the likeliest people to walk on the moon would be those astronauts who are aged around 25 at the minute (as they'll be 37 in 2020).

Delta7
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Posts: 1153
From: Ossian IN USA
Registered: Oct 2007

posted 04-02-2009 11:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by AstroAutos:
Considering that Alan Shepard was the oldest to walk on the moon at the age of 47, Jim Dutton walking on the moon would seem slightly unlikely
I don't believe it's far-fetched at all. While 47 was considered "old" for an astronaut back in 1971, it isn't the case today. And if Vance Brand could command a Space Shuttle at age 59, and Story Musgrave fly as a regular crewmember at age 62, I don't see why someone couldn't fly to the moon at least up to those ages. It all depends on the individual. Even Mike Gernhardt supposedly said he hopes to make it to the moon (according to another recent cS post), and he's already 52!

I believe that IF current plans for return to the moon hold, the next American to set foot on the moon is currently a member of the astronaut office.

AstroAutos
Member

Posts: 724
From: Monaghan Town, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
Registered: Mar 2009

posted 04-02-2009 03:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Delta7:
I believe that IF current plans for return to the moon hold, the next American to set foot on the moon is currently a member of the astronaut office.
I suppose you are right - it could be anyone really! I guess they will send an experienced shuttle pilot/commander, and it would be brilliant if they did send someone who was currently in the astronaut corps, as this would indeed prove that people of any ages can fly in space, and why not to the moon?! Look at what John Glenn did at the age of 77!

My favourites for the moon would be (all who are 45 or over by the way): Scott Altman, Lee Archambault, Dominic Gorie and Mark Kelly all who are experienced shuttle commanders. Only time will tell I suppose!

Anyone else have any opinions on who will get to the moon?

mjanovec
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Posts: 3593
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 04-02-2009 04:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think the closest comparison is that John Young was 50 when he flew the first Shuttle mission. As such, being 50 wasn't a hinderance to Young when he was slected for that flight 30+ years ago (though admittedly Young did kind of pick himself ).

I suspect the early Constellation flights will primarily include astronauts who are already in the program. By the time the moon landings take place, many of the holdovers from the Shuttle era will be retired...but I suspect a few will remain. I wouldn't be surprised if one of those experienced older astronauts is tapped to make the first return landing.

The astronaut class that is chosen this year will also contain many candidates for future moonwalkers, as they will likely enter the program too late to fly on the Shuttle.

Joel Katzowitz
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Posts: 326
From: Marietta GA USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 04-04-2009 08:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joel Katzowitz   Click Here to Email Joel Katzowitz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've got to cast my vote for Alan Shepard. I had the opportunity to spend some time with him while working on the AHOF project in 1989.

That relationship gave me the opportunity to experience both sides of his famous dual personality. At one point, I took a picture of him while he was looking at an old photograph of Mercury Mission Control. He had tears in his eyes as he looked into the faces of many friends who were no longer with us. I saw the other side of him during the Gemini induction ceremony at the Hall of Fame when I asked him to autograph my program. The program had already been signed by perhaps 20 other attendees and when I handed him my "fine line" Sharpie he pushed it away in favor of his "bold" Sharpie. Then he flipped the paper over and began to sign his name on the back explaining that he didn't want to sign the front with all the other "girls". I eventually convinced him to put his signature on the front with the others.

One of the many things I really admired about him, was after he was grounded with his ear problem, he stayed with the program in a much less high profile capacity to continue contributing to it's success. It would have been easy for him to pack up and move on to some more ego stroking endeavour. Of course Deke Slayton did the same thing, which is one of the reasons he's number 2 on my list.

-Joel

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