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  Rookie and veteran space shuttle mission crews

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Author Topic:   Rookie and veteran space shuttle mission crews
Headshot
Member

Posts: 182
From: Streamwood, IL USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 09-05-2012 03:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Aside from STS-2 (J. Engle and R. Truly), did any other all-rookie crews ever fly on the U.S. space shuttle?

Also, were there any all-veteran crews that flew on the shuttle?

mdhcollection
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Aug 2012

posted 09-05-2012 03:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mdhcollection     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I know STS-26 was the first all-veteran crew. I'm not sure if there were any others.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 09-05-2012 03:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No to all-rookie crews after STS-2. At least one of the astronauts, usually the commander, had prior spaceflight experience. STS-51-F is unique in that five of the seven crewmembers made their first, and only spaceflight on that mission.

There were other veteran crews, but my book is at home. STS-76, -79, and -81, off the top of my head. Certainly STS-132 through 135.

Mike Isbell
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Posts: 342
From: Silver Spring, Maryland USA
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 09-05-2012 04:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Isbell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The crews of STS-31, 35, 61, 62, 80 and 82 were all veteran crews. Also the shuttle crew of STS-71 was an all veteran crew.

LM-12
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From: Ontario, Canada
Registered: Oct 2010

posted 09-05-2012 04:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
STS-94 and STS-97 were also all-veteran crews.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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Posts: 2123
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 09-05-2012 05:30 PM     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 Mike Isbell:
The crews of STS-31, 35, 61, 62, 80 and 82 were all veteran crews.
35 had Durrance and Parise as PSs, who were first timers.

ilbasso
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From: Greensboro, NC USA
Registered: Feb 2006

posted 09-05-2012 05:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Engle was technically not a spaceflight rookie when he flew STS-2. He had exceeded 50 miles altitude three times in X-15 flights and had USAF astronaut wings before he joined NASA.

Headshot
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Posts: 182
From: Streamwood, IL USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 09-05-2012 05:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good point about Engle, I had forgotten that.

Jay Chladek
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Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 09-06-2012 06:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Engle also put his X-15 experience to good use as he is the only shuttle commander to manually fly the shuttle through reentry from orbit to landing. Other astronauts before and after had done manual flight of some aspects of the reentry to test that they could do it. But Engle is the only one who did it the whole way.

So maybe Engle was a rookie to orbital flight, but not to "space" flight as we understand it.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 09-06-2012 01:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm sort of surprised that there aren't that many all-veteran shuttle crews. Granted, every mission is different, but wouldn't you think for a program like the space shuttle where the objective is to fly as frequently as possible there would have been fewer astronauts (even with people leaving for whatever reason), grouped into different assignments: satellite deployment; Spacelab; space station (Mir and ISS) crews; DoD; and space station resupply, for example?

Jay Chladek
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From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 09-06-2012 08:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In the early days of shuttle, there were some group tracks of crew specialties to fly. Bob Crippen for instance who got his first flight on STS-1 got some of the highest stick time as a shuttle commander as he was recycled for several flights. The object seemed to be to get as many pilot astronauts stick time to help support the heavy flight rotations originally planned.

But in a program which even through early 1986 was planning to ramp up to 12 flights that year and potentially up to 24, if you have many crews in rotation that means a lot of rookies are going to need to fly to fill the seats since there aren't enough veterans to support every crew. If a crew needs a minimum of six months to come together and train as a crew and 12 flights are scheduled with each having a crew of six on average, that means up to 72 crewmembers (not all of them necessarily full time astronauts) that have to be in training for about an 18 month period (if no delays were encountered). In some cases, if a CDR or PLT flew at the beginning of that cycle of missions, he might be available to fly a crew at the end. But that only accounts for one or two of the seats.

In the case of Spacelab assignments, there was almost always a rookie or two (or three in many cases) on the crew since the object of those flights was scientific research and that tended to be carried out by Payload Specialists (very few PSes ever flew more than one time). As I recall from reading Mullane's book, the Spacelab flights were considered to be the low end of the totem pole in flight rotation as it meant that MSes would usually end up getting poked and prodded if it was medical research being conducted. EVA and RMS operations were more the cream of the crop and plenty of rookies and veterans alike tried to do what they could to get those assignments.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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Posts: 2123
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 09-07-2012 01:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, but if flights are similar, do you really need that many astronauts? Weren't Hoffman and Parker scheduled to make three flights (Astro-1 through 3) in eighteen months (and Durrance and Parise and Nordsieck in some combination of two PSs as well during that time period?)

(Related as well, it's been my speculation that Vance Brand got STS-35 because he had been training for Spacelab flights: EOM-1, then Spacelab 4, then the combined EOM-1/2.)

astro-nut
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From: washington, Illinois USA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 09-07-2012 02:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astro-nut   Click Here to Email astro-nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When I had dinner with Jon McBride and his wife I asked him about his STS-61E/Astro 1 flight and he informed me that he was selected for the first two Astro missions (Astro-1 and Astro-2). He named the rest of his crew members for both flights but I cannot remember them all.

Jay Chladek
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Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 09-13-2012 08:52 AM     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 Hart Sastrowardoyo:
Yes, but if flights are similar, do you really need that many astronauts? Weren't Hoffman and Parker scheduled to make three flights (Astro-1 through 3) in eighteen months (and Durrance and Parise and Nordsieck in some combination of two PSs as well during that time period?)

Theoretically some vets could fly multiple missions as even in the mid-1990s you had Tom Jones scheduled for back to back flights of the Space Based Radar system since the plan was to see how the data from the second mission flown after only a few months compared to that collected on the first mission.

But, things can happen in missions that might throw a monkey wrench into those plans. Perhaps a crewmember didn't perform as well as he or she should have. Maybe an ailment befalls them or a family crisis. Perhaps George Abbey was having a bad day. Or somebody might decide he's had enough. Lots of factors could creep in. I also recall during those early days that many of the critical crewmembers had backups training alongside them just in case. Later on, that need eased off a bit such as after Challenger when the flight schedule backed off to a more sane level.

Jim Behling
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Posts: 537
From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 09-13-2012 02:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hart Sastrowardoyo:
...there would have been fewer astronauts (even with people leaving for whatever reason), grouped into different assignments
There wasn't enough similarity between missions post Challenger other than Mir and ISS resupply. Anyways, the shuttle's job was to fly as many astronauts as possible.

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