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Author Topic:   Greatest career achievement by an early astronaut

Posts: 14
Registered: Aug 2013

posted 01-13-2014 11:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tminus8     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An interesting discussion point is which astronaut achieved/contributed most in their career (I'm thinking of the pre-shuttle era).

I'd put forward three in particular:

  • Dave Scott - Gemini 8 (first US space emergency), Apollo 9 (first CMP on first LM flight) and Apollo 15 (arguably most productive lunar expedition) - three great individual performances.

  • Neil Armstrong - Gemini 8 (as Scott) and Apollo 11 (speaks for itself).

  • John Young - Gemini 3 (first flight in programme), Gemini 10, Apollo 10 (first CMP on lunar flight) and Apollo 16 - three impeccable performances.
Any others?


Posts: 2176
From: West Jordan, Utah USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 01-13-2014 12:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randy   Click Here to Email randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wally Schirra- only man to fly Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.


Posts: 2454
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 01-13-2014 01:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Borman and Lovell on Gemini 7. To be cramped in a Gemini capsule for fourteen days was a feat above and beyond the call of duty.


Posts: 1642
From: Olympia, WA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 01-13-2014 02:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Originally posted by Tminus8:
John Young - Gemini 3 (first flight in programme), Gemini 10, Apollo 10 (first CMP on lunar flight) and Apollo 16 - three impeccable performances.
Not to mention STS-1 later on, which ranks right up there with Apollo 8 in the 'uber impressive test flight' heading.


Posts: 1252
From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 01-13-2014 02:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You could make the point that any of the successful flights helped move the astronauts career forward and contributed to advancing the program. But I get your meaning.

Jim McDivitt, commander of the first US spacewalk Gemini 4 but also commander Apollo 9 as a result of which paved the way for the future lunar missions. He went on the become Apollo Program Manager.


Posts: 649
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: Jun 2001

posted 01-13-2014 02:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sts205cdr   Click Here to Email sts205cdr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Conrad and Bean, who both walked on the Moon and then set records orbiting the Earth.


Posts: 729
From: South Carolina
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 01-13-2014 03:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd nominate the crew of the first Skylab mission. Conrad, Kerwin and Weitz not only saved the Skylab program through some gutsy (and at times dangerous) repair work, but on top of that managed to conduct some darn good science. To me it's right up there with the mission to fix Hubble as among the greatest achievements in human spaceflight.

Shuttle Endeavour

Posts: 234
From: Freehold, NJ, USA
Registered: Aug 2013

posted 01-13-2014 04:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Shuttle Endeavour   Click Here to Email Shuttle Endeavour     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert Crippen: He was advanced from pilot to commander after STS-1.

Edward White: First U.S. EVA. Was selected for Apollo 1.


Posts: 960
From: Churchton, MD
Registered: Oct 2012

posted 01-13-2014 04:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for JBoe   Click Here to Email JBoe     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Speaking of Robert Crippen, he did accomplish many things on the ground before going up in STS-1. He was assigned to the Manned Orbiting Laboratory as an instructor, member of the Skylab 2-4 astronaut support crew, and a member of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project support crew.

A side note, as a member of the MOL he was looking/developing intelligence applications for crew onboard the station.

Mike Isbell

Posts: 551
From: Silver Spring, Maryland USA
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 01-13-2014 05:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Isbell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would include Thomas Stafford. Flying as pilot on the Gemeni 6 rendezvous he also commanded Gemeni 9-A flight. He then commanded Apollo 10 and flew the lunar module to within 50,000 of the lunar surface prior to the first moon landing. He then became chief of the astronaut office while Alan Shepard was training for Apollo 14. Command of the Apollo/Soyuz flight capped off his career as an astronaut.


Posts: 1512
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 01-13-2014 06:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Let me take this a different direction - Joe Walker. Before becoming an astronaut, he flew the X-1 and X-1E rocketplanes. Then he flew 25 missions in the X-15. Three of those X-15 flights earned him belated astronaut wings for going over 50 miles altitude (and two of those missions would have qualified for the current 100 km altitude threshold for spaceflight). Walker went on to iron-out the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV) that helped define how the Apollo Lunar Module would land on the moon, and became the training tool to enable those landings...


Posts: 14
Registered: Aug 2013

posted 01-14-2014 06:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tminus8     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wally Schirra certainly achieved despite tetchiness on Apollo 7. (Arguably most successful Mercury flight, first rendezvous mission and gutsy first Apollo flight). Also Tom Stafford also on first rendezvous mission) plus late call up to Gemini 9, command of Apollo 10 (first LM flight in lunar orbit) and ASTP.

How about Buzz Aldrin? - must not forget very successful EVA on Gemini 12 (much needed at the time) and Apollo 11 (of course).


Posts: 1505
From: Bluffton IN USA
Registered: Oct 2007

posted 01-14-2014 10:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lots to chose from, and some already mentioned here. I would add Jim McDivitt and Rusty Schweikart for the first manned test of the LM. The first true "spacecraft" incapable of returning to earth. Never flown in it's real environment before then. Had to perform pretty much flawlessly the way engineers had designed it to and predicted it would. A major problem or malfunction would have made it far less likely we would land on the moon before the end of the year, if not impossible. It worked, they proved it, and the rest is history...


Posts: 1310
From: Staten Island, New York USA
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 01-14-2014 01:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All the above are worthy, plus these four:

-Deke Slayton: Although he sat out M-G-A, he was no bystander as he (wrong or right) transformed the astronaut corps to carry out Kennedy's goal of reaching the moon. With Alan Shepard, he chose the best astronauts for some of the most historic space missions. Apollo-Soyuz was his consolation prize.

-John Glenn: As the first American to orbit the earth, maneuver his spacecraft and take the first color photos of his flight, Glenn was certainly the hero of the moment. He also set a precedent by angrily protesting the lack of information shared by ground control during the heatshield/retropack problem before reentry. As pilot in command, he ensured that those who followed would not be kept in the dark.

-Walt Cunningham and Donn Eisele: Rounding out the crew of Apollo 7 with Wally Schirra, it can't be overstated that, after Apollo 1, had this mission failed, Apollo 8 and the missions that followed would have been delayed or changed, possibly missing the goal of a moon landing before the decade's end.

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