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  Sky at Night magazine poll: Greatest Astronaut (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Sky at Night magazine poll: Greatest Astronaut
Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
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posted 07-20-2010 09:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sky at Night Magazine release
Vote for the greatest astronaut of all time

For the past five decades, astronauts have thrilled the world. From Yuri Gagarin's history-making first ascent into orbit to the Space Shuttle's extraordinary Hubble Telescope repair missions, human explorers have clocked up countless major accomplishments in space. But who is the greatest astronaut of all time?

Sky at Night Magazine has launched a poll in the August issue, on sale today, to find out who the public rates as the top astronaut in history, and we'd love to hear what you and your community think. The team has drawn up a shortlist of 15 astronauts and has asked a number of top space experts for their comments on these extraordinary men and women. Now it's over to you...

You can read about the shortlisted astronauts and cast your vote on the Sky at Night Magazine website.

Graham Southorn, Editor of Sky at Night Magazine commented: "We are setting out to honour those brave explorers who have journeyed beyond Earth, with a poll to find the greatest astronaut. We had to make some tough choices, but in the end we’ve narrowed the selection down to 15 people. Now we need your help to select the greatest of all time."

The shortlist is as follows...

  1. Anousheh Ansari
  2. Buzz Aldrin
  3. Neil Armstrong
  4. Frank Borman
  5. Michael Foale
  6. Yuri Gagarin
  7. Sergei Krikalev
  8. Jim Lovell
  9. Alexei Leonov
  10. Bruce McCandless
  11. Valeri Polyakov
  12. Story Musgrave
  13. Harrison Schmitt
  14. Alan Shepard
  15. John Young

jasonelam
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posted 07-20-2010 09:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lovell currently leads with 48% of the vote. I voted for John Young.

15 nominees is too little for a vote like this.

AstroAutos
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From: Monaghan Town, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
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posted 07-20-2010 10:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I voted for Frank Borman simply because he was part of in my opinion one of the most significant Gemini missions, as well as commanding the first flight to the moon.

His work in saving Apollo after the fire was also immense, and I think without him Apollo 11 would not have landed on the moon...

capoetc
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posted 07-20-2010 10:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Huh... they narrowed it down to 15... based upon what?

No Tom Stafford? No Jim McDivitt? Really???

Delta7
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posted 07-20-2010 10:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Anousheh Ansari?

Nothing against her, but I can think of a couple of hundred names that should be there as well.

John Young. He saw and did it all over 4 decades.

music_space
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posted 07-20-2010 02:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I voted for Schmitt, who indeed set the bar for future scientist-astronauts, and dedicated himself to the lunar landings even before being selected and assigned.

Looking at the current results, I'd say that the voters, generally, know their astronautics history.

cspg
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From: Geneva, Switzerland
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posted 07-20-2010 03:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Delta7:
Anousheh Ansari?

What's the rationale behind such a poll? Some things are definitevely way beyond my understanding...

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
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posted 07-20-2010 03:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would appear that the rationale is published in the current issue of Sky at Night, but not online. If someone gets the magazine, perhaps they can summarize it here.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 07-20-2010 03:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Greatest golfer, greatest tennis player easy to narrow down, but what defines the "greatest" astronaut? Criteria? Relative or absolute? I'm surprised this publication has dumbed-down with this poll - and really, who cares what the outcome is?

cspg
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From: Geneva, Switzerland
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posted 07-20-2010 04:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by gliderpilotuk:
- and really, who cares what the outcome is?
That makes two of us! Hence my question about the rationale behind the poll.

Delta7
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From: Ossian IN USA
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posted 07-20-2010 04:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I might not care who wins the poll, but it's kinda worth having our own poll here while we're on the subject.

Rob Joyner
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posted 07-20-2010 04:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Joyner   Click Here to Email Rob Joyner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For those who care: John Young

For those who don't: Matt Mason

Rob Joyner
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posted 07-20-2010 04:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Joyner   Click Here to Email Rob Joyner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jasonelam:
Lovell currently leads with 48% of the vote.
Top 3 as of 7-20-10, 5:50pm EST:
  • Armstrong - 55%
  • Lovell - 17%
  • Young - 12%

ColinBurgess
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posted 07-20-2010 04:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can't believe that the most inspiring and beloved astronaut of all time is not on the list. Ansari and Foale are on there (why?), but where the heck is the name of John Glenn?

canyon42
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posted 07-20-2010 06:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for canyon42   Click Here to Email canyon42     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Have to go with John Young, if sheer accomplishment is the criteria. Aside from just the number of spaceflights (six), I would list these:
  1. On the first flight of TWO separate spacecraft/launch systems, including commanding one of them.

  2. Landing/walking on moon as a commander

  3. Commanding two other space missions

  4. First man entrusted with flying the CSM solo in lunar orbit
Interestingly, the person I would personally place second on such a list does not even make the short list. Pete Conrad commanded three entirely different types of missions (out of four total flights), landed and walked on the moon (including the first pinpoint landing), and (according to him his most significant accomplishment) commanded the mission that saved America's first space station from being a failure. Not a shabby resume.

Playalinda
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posted 07-20-2010 08:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Playalinda   Click Here to Email Playalinda     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This must be an early April fools joke!

ASCAN1984
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posted 07-21-2010 08:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ASCAN1984   Click Here to Email ASCAN1984     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Delta7:
I might not care who wins the poll, but it's kinda worth having our own poll here while we're on the subject.
My vote then is for John Young.

Max Q
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posted 07-21-2010 08:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Max Q   Click Here to Email Max Q     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've always thought Jim Lovell was the greatest astronaut off all time. He always seemed to be moving to make way for others from one mission to another leading to missing his rightful chance to walk on the moon for just that self same reason.

heng44
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posted 07-21-2010 08:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for heng44   Click Here to Email heng44     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ASCAN1984:
My vote then is for John Young.
I second John Young.

ejectr
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posted 07-21-2010 08:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For the sake of competency and accomplishment, my vote goes to John Young.

hlbjr
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posted 07-21-2010 08:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hlbjr   Click Here to Email hlbjr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Seeing the list includes some (IMO) riduculous (in the context of career astronauts in history) candidates I'm certainly not taking this poll seriously.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-21-2010 08:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Looks like the poll was picked up somewhere in Russia overnight. Currently, the magazine's leaderboard is:
  • Yuri Gagarin - 55.4%
  • Neil Armstrong - 24.8%
  • Alexei Leonov - 5.3%
  • Sergei Krikalev - 3.7%
  • Valeri Polyakov - 3.4%
  • Jim Lovell - 2.9%
  • John Young - 2.4%

cddfspace
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posted 07-21-2010 11:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cddfspace   Click Here to Email cddfspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow! When I went to bed last night, Armstrong had about 65% and Gargarin had around 20%!

chappy
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posted 07-21-2010 03:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chappy   Click Here to Email chappy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I go for my hero John Young, because he gave 40 years of his service to NASA, he's the people's astronaut, he's the 'right stuff' astronaut to be voted the all-time favourite astronaut... I've agreed with the other cS members who had voted for John Young.

Neil Armstrong is famous for being the first human to walk on the moon and that's all...

Yuri Gagarin is famous for being first human in space and that's all...

There are household names like Neil Armstrong, Yuri Gagarin, Bruce McCandless, Alexei Leonov, as so on, they are famous for one thing...

But John Young worked hard for 40 years, giving it all and I'm sure lots of people never heard of John Young.

He didn't get much credit by the people all over the world who really appreciates his work for over 40 years. He deserved to be vote all-time astronaut ever in the history of manned spaceflight.

I'm voting for John Young.

Blackarrow
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posted 07-21-2010 05:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by chappy:
Neil Armstrong is famous for being the first human to walk on the moon and that's all...

Hands up anyone else who can spot the flaw in this interesting argument......

ColinBurgess
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posted 07-21-2010 06:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe it's just that I was around and in my teens when this happened, but for inspiring a nation and people overseas at a critical and turbulent time in America's history; for his inner strength, patriotism and dedication to the space program; for sending spirits soaring in the early years of the Space Race; for being in the eyes of many the perfect astronaut, a modest, loving family man and a proud representative of the United States Marine Corps and NASA, there's no one better or more fitting for that title in my opinion than Mercury and Shuttle astronaut John Herschel Glenn, Jr.

Wehaveliftoff
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posted 07-21-2010 07:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Wehaveliftoff   Click Here to Email Wehaveliftoff     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would've voted for John Glenn!

AJ
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posted 07-21-2010 08:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AJ   Click Here to Email AJ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
Hands up anyone else who can spot the flaw in this interesting argument...
If I were to vote for Armstrong, it would actually be more for Gemini 8 than Apollo 11. Armstrong is a smart guy, was a great astronaut and mission commander. That said, I'd vote for John Young.

dfox
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posted 07-21-2010 09:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dfox   Click Here to Email dfox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I voted for Lovell. I am biased as he is the only MGA astronaut that I have met in person.

John Glenn is a glaring omission.

Matt Mason is definitely a solid write in choice!

alanh_7
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posted 07-22-2010 07:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All those on the list deserve a great deal of respect. But I fail to see how a list of the "Greatest" astronauts could be posted without Tom Stafford, Wally Schirra and Hoot Gibson.

Gilbert
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posted 07-22-2010 08:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gilbert   Click Here to Email Gilbert     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John Glenn would be my #1 choice. I would also add several others to the list especially Wally Schirra.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
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posted 07-22-2010 08:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Updated leaderboard (Polyakov and Young each move up one spot):
  • Yuri Gagarin - 49.8%
  • Neil Armstrong - 20.7%
  • Alexei Leonov - 14.7%
  • Valeri Polyakov - 3.5%
  • Sergei Krikalev - 3.3%
  • John Young - 3.2%
  • Jim Lovell - 2.7%

capoetc
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From: Newnan GA (USA)
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posted 07-22-2010 08:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not voting in this poll -- for what it's worth, here's why:
In the process, we had to ignore simple ‘firsts’, like John Glenn being the first American to orbit the Earth, or Valentina Tereshkova becoming the first woman aloft. Instead we went for astronauts whose achievements were extraordinary, or whose bravery saved themselves or their colleagues when things went wrong.
Simple first like John Glenn orbiting the earth? Really?

What about simple firsts like Yuri Gagarin riding a ballistic missile into space, with no control over trajectory or even spacecraft orientation?

Seems like a pointless exercise to me...

Delta7
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posted 07-22-2010 09:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jerry Ross deserves to be on the list as well.
  • One of only two people who has flown 7x;
  • 9 EVAs;
  • Has flown almost every type of Shuttle flight imaginable (Satellite Deploy, Scientific Payload Deploy, DoD, Spacelab, Mir, ISS);
  • Was there when STS-1 launched, and as current VIT chief will be there when the last shuttle rolls to a stop.
A career spanning over three decades.

jasonelam
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posted 07-22-2010 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are many glaring omissions to this list. It's fluff, plain and simple. Each person on this list did make a contribution to spaceflight, some more significant than others, but you can't compact almost 50 years of manned spaceflight into 15 nominees.

"Simple firsts?" Spaceflight is NOT simple.

AJ
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posted 07-22-2010 11:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for AJ   Click Here to Email AJ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I also take issue to the bit about their achievements being "extraordinary". Come on! I think every single astronaut/cosmonaut has done something extraordinary, period. What a dumb poll!

Max Q
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posted 07-23-2010 08:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Max Q   Click Here to Email Max Q     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I know the spirit of this thread and as I have already said I think I would vote for Jim Lovell for reasons as mentioned. But maybe I am using the same flawed logic but nobody has mentioned the most unfortunate but most influential astronaut of America's early manned space program. Deke Slayton should at least get an honorary mention. The man was truly great and would have only shone brighter had he remained on flight status.

spaced out
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posted 07-23-2010 09:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think people are taking this a little too seriously. Sure, they could include every astronaut but that would be taking things a bit far. Sure, Glenn deserves to be included, but the same could be said for many others including Schirra, Grissom, Conrad...

Lighten-up folks! It's just for fun. After-all there's no way you could definitively select a 'greatest' astronaut as there's no objective way of measuring that.

In terms of the achievements of particular astronauts on individual flights, although it might be heresy, I tend to think that with the extraordinary abilities and training of the astronaut corps pretty-much any astronaut could have flown pretty-much any mission successfully.

Could Grissom have flown Freedom 7? Could Carpenter have flown Faith 7? Could Conrad have landed Eagle at Tranquility Base? Personally I think the answer to all those questions is yes, and at the same time that doesn't take anything away from Shepard, Glenn or Armstrong.

All that said, my vote went to John Young and would have even if the list included every astronaut that ever flew. His achievements have already been detailed in several posts above. He was in the hot seat more times than anyone else in my opinion.

Paul23
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posted 07-23-2010 11:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul23   Click Here to Email Paul23     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My view on these greatest of all time votes isn't so much the final outcome, the interest is the debate around it.

A few years ago over here in the UK the BBC ran a series called 'Great Britons' the idea being to find the greatest Briton which started with a list of 100 as voted for by the public and was then whittled down to a list of 10. Each of the top 10 was the subject of a TV programme presented by a well known 'champion' outlining the achievements of the subject. The series concluded with a televised debate, then finally a public vote to find the winner (Churchill in case you were wondering!)

Anyway the enjoyment of the series wasn't so much to see who won, after all how do you compare Churchill with Newton, Brunel with Shakespeare or Darwin with Nelson, it was celebrating the achievments of all the people in the list and making sure these people were bought alive to those who may not previously have been aware of all they contributed to society.

Maybe the flaw with the Sky at Night vote is we haven't seen that selection process to see how they picked those 15 that have been listed. I'll try and pick up a copy of the magazine when I'm out next to see what the article says.

The results of the poll may be a bit pointless but the discussions around it might be fun!

jasonelam
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From: Monticello, KY USA
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posted 07-23-2010 11:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Paul23:
My view on these greatest of all time votes isn't so much the final outcome, the interest is the debate around it

Good point! It seems that every so often a network or group comes out with their list of the Top somethings. It always seems up for debate. For instance, I can remember a few years ago that the AFI (American Film Institute) released their list of the top movies of all time, and I can remember I didn't agree with some of the movies chosen or the placement. (2001 wasn't even in the top 10; "Citizen Kane" was the top pick)

Any list of this nature is simply a opinion of, in this case, the editors of the magazine. Each of us would have a different set of nominees for a subject like this, as well as our top pick. Any person or group can create a list that they feel is their favorite, only to get a mountain of opinions in the affitrmative or negative like we have had.


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