Space News
space history and artifacts articles

Messages
space history discussion forums

Sightings
worldwide astronaut appearances

Resources
selected space history documents

Websites
related space history websites

  collectSPACE: Messages
  Space Explorers & Workers
  Why Bruce McCandless waited so long to fly

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   Why Bruce McCandless waited so long to fly
carmelo
Member

Posts: 824
From: Messina, Sicilia, Italia
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 06-23-2013 07:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bruce McCandless was selected by astronaut in 1966, in the same class of Jim Irwin, Charlie Duke, Al Worden, Ed Mitchell, Paul Weitz... all astronauts that flew on Apollo and Skylab.

I'm always amazed that Bruce had wait 18 years for his first flight.

There was a some problem with Deke Slayton or was only bad luck?

Tom
Member

Posts: 1341
From: New York
Registered: Nov 2000

posted 06-23-2013 07:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
...and Don Lind, from the same group waited a year longer, getting his first flight in 1985 on STS 51B, after 19 years in the astronaut office.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
Member

Posts: 2386
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 06-23-2013 08:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And McCandless was a pilot, too, yet both his flights were as a mission specialist.

Delta7
Member

Posts: 1213
From: Ossian IN USA
Registered: Oct 2007

posted 06-24-2013 06:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If McCandless, or Don Lind for that matter, had been selected with one of the shuttle selection groups, both would have been chosen as mission specialists given their backgrounds. It probably made sense to put them in that branch of the astronaut office. And if "Who's turn is it to fly" were the sole determiner of flight assignments, McCandless and Lind should have been the mission specialists assigned to STS-5.

The reason neither McCandless or Lind flew prior to the shuttle was simply too many astronauts and not enough spacecraft seats. Not everyone was going to fly before the end of Apollo and they simply weren't the ones chosen to do so, for whatever reasons.

In the case of McCandless, it seems he was pointed at doing the first test of the MMU early on and thus was being "saved" for that mission. It just so happens that didn't happen until the 10th shuttle flight.

I find it more perplexing why Lind didn't fly until well into the shuttle program. At one point he had been among the pool of candidates to walk on the moon. Most of the class of 1978 flew before him, some twice, and even Dave Leestma from the 1980 class. It could be that his stated desire was to hold out for a Spacelab mission, but he could have flown earlier and still done that. Or it could simply be explained by two words: George Abbey.

Bram
Member

Posts: 28
From: Tremelo, Belgium
Registered: Nov 2005

posted 06-24-2013 07:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bram   Click Here to Email Bram     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I could be wrong, but I thought Don Lind resigned from Nasa somewhere in the seventies and came back to Nasa later on?

Bram
Member

Posts: 28
From: Tremelo, Belgium
Registered: Nov 2005

posted 06-24-2013 07:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bram   Click Here to Email Bram     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I could be wrong, but I thought Don Lind resigned from NASA somewhere in the seventies and came back to NASA later on?

alanh_7
Member

Posts: 998
From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 06-24-2013 07:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I always thought it was just bad timing for Bruce McCandless. He had been assigned as Capcom on several missions including Apollo 11. I doubt he would have been given those assignments had there been an issue.

Speculation on my part but I just think he fell into that hole that was left when Apollo 18-20 missions were canceled.

Delta7
Member

Posts: 1213
From: Ossian IN USA
Registered: Oct 2007

posted 06-24-2013 09:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Bram:
I could be wrong, but I thought Don Lind resigned from NASA somewhere in the seventies and came back to NASA later on?
Not that I'm aware of. You might be thinking about Tony England who resigned in 1972 and came back in 1979.

Delta7
Member

Posts: 1213
From: Ossian IN USA
Registered: Oct 2007

posted 06-24-2013 09:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by alanh_7:
Speculation on my part but I just think he fell into that hole that was left when Apollo 18-20 missions were canceled.
The furthest he got was the Skylab I backup crew. If there had been more Skylab missions he likely would have flown. He was also a likely candidate for ASTP if Slayton hadn't got his ticket back.

Michael Cassutt
Member

Posts: 273
From: Studio City CA USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 06-24-2013 09:19 AM     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 Delta7:
Not that I'm aware of. You might be thinking about Tony England who resigned in 1972 and came back in 1979.
There were several astronauts from the Apollo era who left NASA but remained in government service, and had the option of returning to JSC: England, Anders, Swigert. There may have been one other.

Ed Gibson actually left for the private sector, but returned to JSC in 1979... was training as capcom for STS-1, and left again.

As for McCandless, if the question is why didn't he fly in Apollo-Skylab, my guess would be more astronauts than available flights. As to why he didn't fly ahead of Worden or Swigert, for example, only Slayton knew.

If the question is why didn't he fly on Shuttle until 41-B, that does get trickier. He was training as a Shuttle PLT until offered the 41-B mission and the chance to test the MMU.* Unlike the 1969 astros, who largely filled the PLT seat in the first six Shuttle missions, McCandless wasn't a test pilot — and his technical assignments post-Apollo dealt with the MMU and upper stages, not direct Shuttle development, so that may have been a factor, too.

* And based on a conversation a couple of years back, he was quite pleased to get that assignment.

Richard Witt
New Member

Posts: 5
From: Oklahoma City, OK
Registered: May 2013

posted 06-24-2013 09:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Witt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Delta7:
It could be that his stated desire was to hold out for a Spacelab mission, but he could have flown earlier and still done that.
I seem to recall Lind mentioning that he'd been penciled in for Spacelab 3 for several years before it actually flew. I get the sense that the Spacelab assignments were seen as a bit of a reward for Lind and the XS-11 on those missions, for sticking around so long. They got missions with lots of scientific work, instead of "routine" satellite deployment duty. NASA just didn't expect the flights to slip so far in the launch schedule.

In fact, all of the XS-11 who stuck around flew on Spacelab, except Allen and Lenoir, and they flew as the first mission specialists, instead. Garriot got a Spacelab flight as well, and Kerwin was offered one, but turned it down. So, it does seem that NASA intended to give the Apollo-era scientist-astronauts first crack at Spacelab.

alanh_7
Member

Posts: 998
From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 06-24-2013 10:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Delta7:
The furthest he got was the Skylab I backup crew. If there had been more Skylab missions he likely would have flown. He was also a likely candidate for ASTP if Slayton hadn't got his ticket back.
Yes but I think the canceled moon missions bumped some of the guys like Bill Pogue Gerry Carr, Jack Lousma and Paul Weitz and Vance Brand all of whom were later assigned Skylab flights and ASTP flights.

I speculate but since he was assigned backup on Skylab 2, had the moon missions not been canceled he could have been assigned a flight earlier than he was.

Greggy_D
Member

Posts: 720
From: Michigan
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 06-24-2013 10:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Richard Witt:
and Kerwin was offered one, but turned it down.

I thought I remember reading somewhere that Kerwin was offered STS-41C.

Bram
Member

Posts: 28
From: Tremelo, Belgium
Registered: Nov 2005

posted 06-24-2013 02:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bram   Click Here to Email Bram     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe somebody can ask John Young why Lind didn't fly not earlier?

Michael Cassutt
Member

Posts: 273
From: Studio City CA USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 06-24-2013 02:50 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 Bram:
Maybe somebody can ask John Young why Lind didn't fly not earlier?
  1. not happening (Young is not in good health and not going to answer questions)
  2. not his decision

carmelo
Member

Posts: 824
From: Messina, Sicilia, Italia
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 06-24-2013 03:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Delta7:
Not everyone was going to fly before the end of Apollo and they simply weren't the ones chosen to do so, for whatever reasons.
The point is this: Was McCandless less qualified as pilot than Mitchell, Duke, Swigert, Evans, Lousma or Pogue? Was perceived "a little strange" like Carpenter or Schweickart? Was considered "weak" by Deke Slayton? Unless that the crew assignment were determined for a draw, there must be a reason.

Richard Witt
New Member

Posts: 5
From: Oklahoma City, OK
Registered: May 2013

posted 06-24-2013 04:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Witt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Greggy_D:
I thought I remember reading somewhere that Kerwin was offered STS-41C.
If I remember correctly, he was hoping to get 41C, didn't, and was offered a Spacelab instead, which he turned down. I'm guessing 51B, instead of Thagard — who, like Kerwin, was a doctor. If so, he arguably made the right choice, what with all the monkey feces floating around the cabin during the mission!

drifting to the right
Member

Posts: 58
From:
Registered: Aug 2006

posted 06-24-2013 07:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for drifting to the right     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For what it's worth, I asked Gene Kranz if there was any particular astronaut who stood out as particularly good within Mission Control, and as Capcom, and his reply was Bruce McCandless.

Michael Cassutt
Member

Posts: 273
From: Studio City CA USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 06-24-2013 09:31 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 carmelo:
Unless that the crew assignment were determined for a draw, there must be a reason.
This is a question that can't be answered with any certainty — which you must know.

But, some indicators: McCandless was the youngest of the 1966 group... he had a doctorate, which means that he had fewer flying hours (and in fewer types of aircraft) than his military contemporaries [people like Overmyer and Crippen, who were in the MOL program], and he was not a graduate of a test pilot school.

So, from the moment of his arrival at MSC in May 1966, you had to rank him behind experienced test pilots like Haise, Worden, Roosa, Duke etc. And well behind Mitchell, too, who also had a doctorate, but was seven years older and had not only graduated from ARPS but served there as an instructor.

The first technical assignments for the 1966 group saw McCandless in "experiments," aka AAP, which is pretty much what he did until performing capcom duties (Apollo 11) and being assigned to the Apollo 14 support crew, all in 1969.

So, background and initial assignment relegated him to those to fly later... and there the numbers worked against him.

It does seem that the 1966 guys who lacked test pilot experience did wind up in the "fly later" category. Evans was the first to be assigned, and then to backup Apollo 14 in August 1969. By that time Haise, Mitchell, Worden, Irwin, Roosa, Mattingly, Duke, Swigert were already in prime or backup roles. Engle (another test pilot) was assigned at the same time as Evans. Test pilots Brand and Pogue were yet to come, as was Carr (not a TPS grad but some experience in test). McCandless was with Weitz, Lousma, Lind.

The group peer rating might have had an effect, too. (I have heard, however, that McCandless and Mitchell were considered the top academic students in the group. For what that's worth.)

alanh_7
Member

Posts: 998
From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 06-24-2013 09:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I cannot remember but I think I read that Bruce McCandles was involved in the MMU development program as early as Skylab.

Delta7
Member

Posts: 1213
From: Ossian IN USA
Registered: Oct 2007

posted 06-25-2013 07:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to Mike Collins the 1966 astronaut selection committee (of which he was a member) used a point scoring system. Slayton decided to accept every candidate who qualified. As Collins recalls Fred Haise came out on top (and eventually became the first assigned to a crew). Number 19 made the cut; number 20 did not. To have been selected out of all the applicants is in itself a remarkable distinction.

However as in any similar situation there is someone who is going to be at the bottom of the list, even among an elite and exceptional group of people. Many factors go in to determining the pecking order including background, experience, performance, personality, circumstance, and the likes and prejudices of the one(s) making the list.

McCandless was obviously at or near the bottom of that exclusive list for whatever reasons. It doesn't take away from how good of an astronaut he was, but was as much as anything due to the fact that someone had to be there. Make a list of the 19 greatest baseball players and you will inevitably have #19. Still great but still #19.

Bram
Member

Posts: 28
From: Tremelo, Belgium
Registered: Nov 2005

posted 06-28-2013 06:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bram   Click Here to Email Bram     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Cassutt:
not his decision
I thought Young made the crew selections as chief of the astronaut office?

alanh_7
Member

Posts: 998
From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 06-28-2013 07:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to Mike Mullane's book "Riding Rockets" George Abby was the man responsible for crew selections.

Buel
Member

Posts: 191
From: UK
Registered: Mar 2012

posted 03-25-2014 02:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Buel   Click Here to Email Buel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I thought I should add to this discussion something Bruce McCandless said to my friend and I on the weekend at London's Autographica — that Kraft tried to get him to pass on an order to the crew during the Apollo 11 EVA to end the EVA early. McCandless refused and Kraft tried to get him done for insubordination.

When I asked him if this incident with Kraft affected his chances of flying, he said that he thought so but could not provide any proof.

I can only assume that McCandless refused to pass on Kraft's wishes as Kraft was not actually a Flight Director during Apollo 11, I believe.

Hope this helps.

All times are CT (US)

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | The Source for Space History & Artifacts

Copyright 1999-2014 collectSPACE.com All rights reserved.


Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.47a





advertisement