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  Unsung heroes of the space program/exploration

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Author Topic:   Unsung heroes of the space program/exploration
moorouge
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posted 11-21-2012 11:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
May I set the ball rolling with three unsung heroes of the space program/exploration:
  • Michael Minovitch was the young maths graduate who in 1961 came up with a solution to the '3 body problem'. This enabled him to work out and predict the path of a spacecraft to use the gravitation effect of planets and so accelerate a satellite to reach the outer planets.

  • Gary Flandro, using the work of Minovitch, spotted the alignment that enabled the Voyager missions to be launched on their trip to the stars.

  • Jack Garman was the man in the backroom that called the 'Go' on the 1201/2 alarms on Apollo 11. It was Jack who passed the message on to Steve Bales who then made the call. In fact, Jack had the alarms written down on a crib sheet, the notation beside them reading "Exect.O.F." meaning 'Executive Overflow'.

Jay Gallentine
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posted 11-21-2012 09:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nothing you say is untrue about Minovitch, but I would rapidly hesitate to categorize him as a 'hero'. He did indeed come up with a solution to the 3-body problem, but he was certainly not the first!

Just to clarify, Minovitch was also not the first to use gravity to accelerate spacecraft - although he did perform important work in that regard.

Also true that Flandro used the work of Minovitch, but he also used the work of the likes of Richard Battin and Krafft Ehricke, who both published gravity-assist papers years before Minovitch came along.

Flandro's discovery of the Grand Tour Opportunity had absolutely nothing to do with Minovitch.

Flandro discovered the Opportunity, Charles Kohlhase designed the mission, and Bud Schurmeier ran the project until shortly before launch. They are Voyager's Golden Triangle.

Happy to elaborate further if you like, and thanks for posting!

golddog
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posted 11-21-2012 11:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for golddog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John Houbolt

ColinBurgess
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posted 11-22-2012 12:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John Paul Stapp

moorouge
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posted 11-22-2012 01:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Gallentine:
Flandro's discovery of the Grand Tour Opportunity had absolutely nothing to do with Minovitch.

I don't believe my original post suggested this. I just indicated that Flandro used, in part, the work done by Minovitch as a basis. However, many thanks for your contribution and I don't disagree with anything you said.

Just a small point. It would help if those posting names could include a brief explanation as to why they posted them. Not everyone will be aware of John Stapp or John Houbolt.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 11-22-2012 05:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
David G. Simons and Lieutenant Clifton C. McClure.

star51L
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posted 11-22-2012 07:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for star51L   Click Here to Email star51L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Emil Schiesser (think mascons).

Blackarrow
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posted 11-22-2012 04:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The men who made the tools which were used to build the lunar module. (See, I think, the lunar module episode of "Moon Machines.")

Grounded!
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posted 11-22-2012 07:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Grounded!   Click Here to Email Grounded!     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I second John Houbolt for sticking to his guns promoting the LOR concept.

bwhite1976
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posted 11-22-2012 09:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bwhite1976   Click Here to Email bwhite1976     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is almost an impossible task, as there are thousands of people that contributed to the moon program. Regardless, my first thought was Joe Shea.

Jay Gallentine
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posted 11-22-2012 10:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
I just indicated that Flandro used, in part, the work done by Minovitch as a basis.
Gary Flandro's original discovery of the Grand Tour Opportunity, in June of '65, did not leverage any work of Minovitch's at all. Not even Flandro's subsequent development of sample Grand Tour missions made use of Minovitch's work.

JPL's Charles Kohlhase and Paul Penzo worked on a team that weeded through over 10,000 possible Voyager flight trajectories. Minovitch was not on this team and did not work on the mission's design.

The final Voyager 2 Neptune trajectories were calculated by Bob Cesarone at JPL.

Not until the Voyager program was well underway did Minovitch review his reams of printouts and discover that they held a similar calculation to what Flandro had already submitted.

Mike Minovitch certainly did a lot of work to develop the gravity-assist technique, and that work has been cited by many including Flandro. But Minovitch was not in the Voyager mix. At all.

I don't wish to detract from the rest of this thread, so please feel free to contact me off-list if you'd like to discuss further. Alternatively we could begin a separate thread for just this topic. I thank you for the discussion!

randy
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posted 11-23-2012 09:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for randy   Click Here to Email randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Guenter Wendt.

Headshot
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posted 11-23-2012 09:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I "third" John Houbolt.

alanh_7
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posted 11-23-2012 02:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Joe Schmitt, Al Rochford, Ron Woods and the many other suit tech and life support people who quietly carried out their duties and through superior knowledge training and experience were often able to save missions from technical gliches that could have caused delays. They never get the credit they deserved.

canyon42
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posted 11-23-2012 04:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for canyon42   Click Here to Email canyon42     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gene Shoemaker and Lee Silver, for helping to make the lunar voyages more about knowledge and investigation.

Kite
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posted 11-24-2012 05:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Following on from previous post Farouk El-Baz for his work with the CMP's studying and surveying the Lunar surface from orbit.

wickball
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posted 11-24-2012 02:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wickball   Click Here to Email wickball     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Carl Sagan

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-24-2012 02:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How is Carl Sagan, one of the most well-known space personalities, unsung?

For that matter, I think the wonderful treatment provided Farouk El-Baz, Lee Silver and John Houbolt, as well as Guenter Wendt, by Tom Hanks' "From the Earth to the Moon" would put these fine gentlemen into a separate category from the "unsung."

If this was Hollywood, then perhaps they would be on the so-called, "D-List," with the "A-List" stars being astronauts like the late Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride, and flight director Gene Kranz (due to "Apollo 13"), whereas the "B-List" would be other lesser-known astronauts and flight directors.

The "unsung" are those for which there are no book mentions, no television adaptations, no movies, no recollection of their still important roles in space exploration...

wickball
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posted 11-24-2012 02:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wickball   Click Here to Email wickball     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, I misread the thread, sorry.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-24-2012 03:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No problem, but I think the distinction is probably a good one to consider: there is a difference between "unsung" and not being a household name.

Most of the Apollo astronauts are not remembered by name by a large portion of the public, but never would I suggest that any of them have gone unsung.

canyon42
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posted 11-24-2012 03:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for canyon42   Click Here to Email canyon42     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, Robert, by your definition of the term, none of the people mentioned so far in the thread are gonna qualify...

I would agree that there is a difference between "household name" (although I doubt that anyone from the space program qualifies as truly a household name in the most general sense aside from Armstrong, Glenn, and maybe Shepard and Sally Ride) and "unsung," but I suppose you could also argue that there are a whole lot of different levels for the term unsung.

wickball
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posted 11-24-2012 03:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wickball   Click Here to Email wickball     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unless you grew up in the 80's, Carl Sagan is an unknown hero.

micropooz
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posted 11-24-2012 06:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a favorite story about one of the "unknowns" – Bill Tindall who provided the top autograph on this Apollo 8 KSC Official cachet.

Tindall was the lead trajectory analyst that defined how to rendezvous during Gemini and how to get to the moon for Apollo, the latter of which was so resoundingly demonstrated on Apollo 8. One of Tindall’s most famous products was his series of “Tindallgrams” where he documented the development of the trajectory decisions made and techniques with humor and irreverence. He was well known around JSC, and talked about in Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox's "Apollo The Race to the Moon", but had certainly not been a household name.

In 1993 JSC had an Apollo 8 25th Anniversary Celebration featuring the crew and all of the autographees shown above. Tindall was honored with many kind words about figuring out how to get the crew to the moon, making it happen, and getting the crew back on the very first try. After the celebration I approached Tindall for an autograph. He asked "You want an autograph from ME? Are you sure?". Then when he finished autographing my cover, someone else approached him for an autograph. He told that guy "You are the second person who has ever asked me for an autograph, and (pointing at me) there is the first!"

Bill Tindall was a humble and humorous unsung hero. He passed away in 1995.

moorouge
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posted 11-25-2012 01:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As the originator of this thread, may I say that I'm in broad agreement with Robert's definition of 'unsung'. [It's not often that we agree either!!! ]

To go back to my original post for an example. Steve Bales, in most accounts of the Apollo 11 1201/2 alarms, gets the credit for making the "Go" call. In actual fact, when the call came through the only person in Mission Control that knew what they were was Jack Garman. He made the call and gets very little credit for it. To me, this makes him an 'unsung hero'.

jasonelam
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posted 11-25-2012 08:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've been seeing John Houbolt's name being mentioned, but I think the real unsung hero is Tom Dolan, who proposed the first fully developed concept for LOR. He was ignored by NASA until Houbolt championed the cause.

kr4mula
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posted 11-26-2012 12:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you want to name names for unsung heroes, browse the list of JSC Oral History Project Particpants and pick a name you've never heard of and you'll find one of those unsung heroes with a fascinating story.

I would also say that there are an awful lot of contractors who should go on the list of unsung heroes. A few have some name recognition becuase of "From the Earth to the Moon" or they've written books (Tom Kelly, Harrison Storms, etc.), but most of them received even less recognition than their NASA counterparts.

onesmallstep
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posted 11-26-2012 03:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would add as unsung (to most of us space followers and the public at large), the workers who literally stiched together the bundles of computer memory wiring used in Apollo CM and LM computers. Without their handiwork (as shown in the documentary series 'Moon Machines'), a flight to and landing on the Moon would not have been possible.

Blackarrow
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posted 11-26-2012 03:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jack Kinzler springs to mind. His fingerprints were all over the most iconic aspects of the golden age of space: the Apollo 11 flag, the Apollo 11 plaque, Al Shepard's "golf-club", and the Skylab parasol, to name a few. Without delving into my records I can't remember the details, but I recommend some research to see the contribution of Jack Kinzler. Out of the 400,000 he was one of the most hard-working, inventive and ingenious. Best of all, he might be reading this (in which case, I salute you, sir!)

topmiler
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posted 08-29-2013 04:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for topmiler     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Where is John Houbolt now?

Jim Behling
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posted 08-29-2013 02:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John C. “Jack” Herther
Frederic C. E. Oder

SkyMan1958
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posted 08-29-2013 11:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've asked a lot of the Apollo astronauts this question. Some will reply with some of the aforementioned names.

Others answer with comments about everday workers. The 3 that stick in my mind, because to me they exemplify unsung, are everyday workers.

Al Worden remembered a worker at Downey who after Apollo 1 made sure that exposed wires in the CM were never stepped on again.

Jim Lovell remembered a worker on the night before the launch of Apollo 13. Lovell was inspecting the Saturn V, and there was a worker tweaking something in one of the upper stages of the bird. In talking to the worker Lovell found out that after the launch of Apollo 13 that worker was going to be laid off, but he was out there doing his job to the last possible second.

Al Bean remembers thinking when he was carrying the ALSEP about the women who made his lunar EVA suit. He felt the heat from the RTG while he was carrying the ALSEP, and he was sure glad the ladies had done such a good job on the suit.

ozspace
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posted 08-31-2013 03:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ozspace   Click Here to Email ozspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
More unsung, this time from Down Under: Bryan Lowe, Tom Reid, Don Gray, Mike Dinn, John Saxon, Hamish Lindsay, Ron Hicks, Martin Geasley, Bryan Sullivan and others.

These are some of the workers at Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station, Canberra, Australia. Part of NASA's Manned Space Flight Network.

For those that may not be aware, for the Apollo 11 moon walk, Houston relayed Goldstone’s TV to the world until just before Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface. The switch was then made to Honeysuckle Creek, and it was through this Manned Space Flight Station the world saw the First Step.

To learn more about Australia's part in the MSFN and NASA DSN please check out Colin Mackellar's excellent website.

garymilgrom
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posted 08-31-2013 05:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks to our Australian friends for help with Neil's video so long ago. John Saxon and Hamish Lindsey at least are known from the book "Carnarvon and Apollo" and others may be featured in the movie The Dish.

Jim Behling
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posted 08-31-2013 07:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To me, an unsung hero is somebody who has had a real impact on the program and has little recognition outside of the industry vs somebody just doing their job.

ozspace
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posted 08-31-2013 09:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ozspace   Click Here to Email ozspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Behling:
To me, an unsung hero is somebody who has had a real impact on the program and has little recognition outside of the industry vs somebody just doing their job.

Understand your point but what has struck me in getting to know some of these guys and hearing the stories they convey is that there were thousands of heros around the world. They were caught up in the great adventure and put in long hours of training, simulations, building unique signal generators and flying them in light planes to calibrate equipment, much of this on their own initiative and far beyond just doing their job.

All times are CT (US)

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