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  Mission commander outranked by crew member

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Author Topic:   Mission commander outranked by crew member
moorouge
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posted 09-28-2010 03:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An idle thought whilst in the bath - I do occasionally partake. Civilians aside, e.g. Armstrong, and bearing in mind that most are on military secondments - have there been any flights when the mission commander has been out-ranked by one of his/her crew?

Byeman
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posted 09-28-2010 11:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Byeman   Click Here to Email Byeman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Many times...

moorouge
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posted 09-28-2010 01:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Such as?

Byeman
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posted 09-28-2010 04:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Byeman   Click Here to Email Byeman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Pick an experienced MS and first time CDR.

jasonelam
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posted 09-28-2010 04:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Am I correct in thinking that you are asking has a Commander of mission been outranked in terms of Military rank, not flight experience?

moorouge
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posted 09-28-2010 04:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jasonelam:
Am I correct in thinking that you are asking has a Commander of mission been outranked in terms of Military rank, not flight experience?

Quite right. Was thinking military rank NOT flight experience.

jasonelam
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posted 09-28-2010 05:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just looked through "Apollo by the Numbers", and there was only one time (at least in Apollo) where this happened.

At the time of Apollo 16, John Young was a Captain in the Navy, which according to answers.com is the equivalent of a Colonel in the US Army, Air Force or Marines. Charlie Duke was a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force, which is one step above Colonel, thus Duke would have outranked Young.

Michael Cassutt
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posted 09-28-2010 05:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Cassutt   Click Here to Email Michael Cassutt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jasonelam:
At the time of Apollo 16, John Young was a Captain in the Navy, which according to answers.com is the equivalent of a Colonel in the US Army, Air Force or Marines. Charlie Duke was a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force, which is one step above Colonel, thus Duke would have outranked Young.
No, exactly the opposite. USN Captain is equal to USAF Colonel -- USAF Lt Colonel is a step down. There are no commander-outranked-by crewmember examples in Apollo. The only two I can think of -- and this is from memory at the moment -- are Gibson/Gardner on STS-27 (Gardner had pinned on as a colonel, I believe, while Hoot was still a commander) and Coats/Blaha on STS-29.

jasonelam
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posted 09-28-2010 05:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
...and that's why I like this group! Thanks Michael!

Michael Cassutt
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posted 09-28-2010 06:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Cassutt   Click Here to Email Michael Cassutt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Following up:

Yes, Hoot Gibson was a USN CDR at launch of STS-27 while Guy Gardner, his PLT, was an Air Force colonel, out-ranking him. MS Mike Mullane was also a full colonel.

For STS-29, Coats was a USN CDR at the time the crew was assigned in early 1988, but had pinned on as a CAPT by the time of launch, so he was not outranked by USAF Col. Blaha.

On STS-52, however, USN CDR James Wetherbee was outranked by USN CAPT Mike Baker, his PLT, and by MS Bill Shepherd, also a CAPT.

For STS-106, my notes show that Marine Terry Wilcutt was outranked by his USN pilot Scott Altman when the crew was announced, but not at launch.

Those are the only cases I can find.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 09-28-2010 07:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had started to go through the shuttle launches, but gave up partly because I wasn't sure what the CDR/PLT ranks were at launch, rather than at the time their bios were written.

If the assumption is that a majority of those bios had the same ranks at launch, then it's interesting to note how many CDRs and PLTs either have the same rank, if they're from the same branch, or the equivalent rank, if they're from different branches, whether by design or coincidence.

Tom
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posted 09-28-2010 08:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If I remember correctly, all three crew members on Apollo 12 were Navy Commanders.

I also seem to recall back in those days that astronauts would get a promotion after their first space flight.

For some (unknown) reason all three were given a promotion to Captain...if not, LMP would have outranked both CDR and CMP...post flight.

Michael Cassutt
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posted 09-28-2010 08:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Cassutt   Click Here to Email Michael Cassutt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tom:
If I remember correctly, all three crew members on Apollo 12 were Navy Commanders.
All three were advanced to CAPT post-flight.

(By the way, the policy regarding automatic promotions for military astronauts was rescinded in 1985 and signed by... Adm. John Poindexter, father of Alan Poindexter. [The new policy allows a promotion for a military astronaut making a first interplanetary flight.])

Michael Cassutt
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posted 09-28-2010 08:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Cassutt   Click Here to Email Michael Cassutt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hart Sastrowardoyo:
\If the assumption is that a majority of those bios had the same ranks at launch, then it's interesting to note how many CDRs and PLTs either have the same rank, if they're from the same branch, or the equivalent rank, if they're from different branches, whether by design or coincidence.
Well, neither. In the Shuttle era, military test pilots were usually majors or lieutenant commanders at selection, with a promotion by the time of their first flights. Since most PLTs flew right seat twice before becoming commanders, a process which generally took at least three years... you would expect them to be O-6 (USN captain, USAF or USMC colonel) by that time. Which is what most of them were.

Skylon
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posted 09-28-2010 08:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tom:
I also seem to recall back in those days that astronauts would get a promotion after their first space flight.
Yes. It was made official policy after Gemini 4, when Jim McDivitt and Ed White were both promoted from Majors to Lt. Colonels. Retroactively, the Gemini 3 crew of Gus Grissom and John Young were promoted as well.

It still tends to happen to Shuttle Astronauts. As for Apollo 12, well, I'm sure the promotion board would have had a nightmare explaining how you could promote Al Bean to Captain, and not one of his Pax River instructors, Pete Conrad, whom he'd just flown to the Moon with.

On a side note, Deke's original Gemini rotation had Pete Conrad flying as commander with Jim Lovell as pilot. Lovell outranked Pete one pay-grade. Ultimately Lovell ended up flying with Frank Borman, who was the same pay-grade as him (albeit, USAF).

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 09-29-2010 09:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Cassutt:
(By the way, the policy regarding automatic promotions for military astronauts was rescinded in 1985 and signed by... Adm. John Poindexter, father of Alan Poindexter. [The new policy allows a promotion for a military astronaut making a first interplanetary flight.])

I'll have to check that out and see whether or not the Earth to the moon is considered an interplanetary flight. And woe be to any astronaut who is in a sleeper ship, goes to Alpha Centauri, and by the time s/he returns, has no one around who can remember the policy!

Jack A. Kozak
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posted 09-29-2010 07:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jack A. Kozak   Click Here to Email Jack A. Kozak     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another interesting twist comes when you consider military academy graduates. On Gemini 12 you had Captain Jim Lovell USNA 52 commanding Major Buzz Aldrin, USMA 51.

On Apollo 15, Jim Irwin was a full 3 years ahead of Dave Scott in military service. Irwin: USNA 51 to Scott USMA 54.

Early promotions also made a big difference among USNA 52 classmates Eisele, Lovell and Staford. Eisele was a Major when he launched on Apollo 7 while Lovell and Stafford were already 2 steps ahead of him.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 09-30-2010 10:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On Mission 62A, wouldn't Aldridge, though a civilian but as undersecretary of the Air Force, have outranked everyone on the crew?

golddog
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posted 10-01-2010 04:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for golddog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An interesting side note - on Apollo 11, Michael Collins as CMP was senior to Aldrin as LMP, yet Aldrin was a full colonel and Collins a Lt Colonel.

Skylon
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posted 10-01-2010 03:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by golddog:
An interesting side note - on Apollo 11, Michael Collins as CMP was senior to Aldrin as LMP, yet Aldrin was a full colonel and Collins a Lt Colonel.
That happened a couple times on Apollo.
  • Apollo 14 - Stu Roosa (Major), Ed Mitchell (Commander)
  • Apollo 16 - Ken Mattingly (Lt. Cdr.), Charlie Duke (Lt. Col.)
And besides, that seniority only counts on the CM.

golddog
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posted 10-01-2010 08:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for golddog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Don't know that I would agree with that - as CMP Collins was effectively the 2IC of the flight, covering the entire mission.

trylon57
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posted 11-11-2010 10:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for trylon57   Click Here to Email trylon57     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What about U.S. Senators?

cosmos-walter
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posted 11-12-2010 10:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cosmos-walter   Click Here to Email cosmos-walter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sergey Krikalyev was ISS-11 commander. Being civilian his military rank hardly was more than retired lieutenant.

issman1
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posted 11-13-2010 05:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Original PLT for STS-33, the late US Naval Reserve Rear Admiral David Griggs, would have outranked his CDR, US Air Force Colonel Frederick Gregory.

Griggs loss was acknowledged by the crew on their mission patch as a star.

Jay Chladek
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posted 11-21-2010 12:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by trylon57:
What about U.S. Senators?

Technically a US Senator doesn't mean anything as they can't issue orders direct to a military person (only the president can). Under oath on the Hill is different.

Now in Jake Garn's case, he was an officer in the Utah National Guard, but I can't recall his rank, nor what Glenn's was when he retired (but technically he was a civilian for his shuttle flight).

Skylon
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posted 11-21-2010 03:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Garn was a Brigadier General in the Utah Air National Guard, but he may have been retired by STS 51-D. Glenn retired from the Marines as a Colonel.

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