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  Joe Engle's reaction to not being on Apollo 17

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Author Topic:   Joe Engle's reaction to not being on Apollo 17
Nigel Mc
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Posts: 178
From: Sheffield, UK
Registered: Jan 2011

posted 12-06-2015 12:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Nigel Mc   Click Here to Email Nigel Mc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone know of any account (online/in print/video) of Joe Engle's personal reaction to not being on Apollo 17? Brief mentions pop up in a number of books but can't seem to find anything from the man himself.

Or if not if anyone sees him, do ask for me. Thanks all!

alanh_7
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From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 12-06-2015 12:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have never seen a personal comment from Joe Engle on this subject. I have read various comments including Gene Cernan's comments in his book "The Last Man on the Moon." And also heard herd him discuss it once. At the end of the day there was really nothing Gene could do to salvage the situation for Joe Engle.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-06-2015 01:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is what Engle said about the situation in his 2004 NASA oral history:
As soon as the decision was made from a budgetary standpoint to cancel Apollo 18, 19, and 20, soon after that — I won't say as soon as, but soon after that, then the discussion surfaced that the scientific community was very avid and pushing very hard to get [Harrison H.] Jack Schmitt on the surface of the Moon, because Jack had a doctorate degree in field geology and, of course, that's what the lunar missions were all about. So it was a perfectly legitimate rationale to consider and to see if it were able to get Jack ready to go on the last mission, Apollo 17, rather than on Apollo 18, which he would have been scheduled for. Jack was backup for Apollo 15.

So, yes, there was no secret about it. It was being discussed openly. I think that both Gene and Deke, their first choice would have been to leave the crew intact, but I think that there was a great deal of pressure on them, and understandably so. So I was told that the decision had been made and that Jack was going to replace me on Apollo 17.

More broadly, Engle also spoke about the disappointment in the Astronaut Office about Apollo ending when it did.
There was disappointment. There's no question that there was a lot of disappointment expressed, because the Apollo missions were just getting to the point where we were able to employ a lot of mobility with the lunar rover and bring back more varied samples of lunar surface, rocks and dust and samples, and to stay longer on the lunar surface as well. We were getting our confidence up in staying on the surface, so the missions were getting much more efficient as far as the scientific return.

It was probably a rather shallow rationale from a crew standpoint, but I know we all said, "Man, this is the wrong time to cancel, because now we're able to really bring back a bunch of stuff." Plus, there was planning to land on the backside of the Moon and there was also a planned polar orbit of the Moon, something that we had not done, not gotten any samples from the backside. So I think from a crew office standpoint, I doubt that there was very much desire to vary the scientific return by going to the backside, but I think everybody wanted to go to the Moon, so that was our selfish reason and rationale for wanting to continue. Of course, we had no vote with the budget issue like it was.

Nigel Mc
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Posts: 178
From: Sheffield, UK
Registered: Jan 2011

posted 12-06-2015 02:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Nigel Mc   Click Here to Email Nigel Mc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks very much!

I couldn't see his Oral history on the list I had. Many thanks!

Fra Mauro
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From: Bethpage, N.Y.
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 12-07-2015 07:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember reading in "Deke", that Slayton wrote and I am paraphrasing that Engle took it a lot better than he would have.

DeepSea
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Registered: Jun 2014

posted 12-07-2015 08:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DeepSea     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by alanh_7:
At the end of the day there was really nothing Gene could do to salvage the situation for Joe Engle.
Cernan was lucky enough to have even been on that flight in the first place. #TeamGordon

alanh_7
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Posts: 1135
From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 12-07-2015 05:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not sure that's true. In many ways it all came down to luck. I know all about the chopper crash, etc., but I think if NASA had any real misgivings they would have replaced Gene and Ron Evans. They did not and the crew flew a great mission. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Greggy_D
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Posts: 850
From: Michigan
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 12-07-2015 07:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had a similar discussion with Charlie Duke during lunch at Spacefest 2009. I asked him, "Was Joe Engle upset when he was bumped off 17?"

"Nah, not upset. Depressed."

astro-nut
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Posts: 685
From: washington, Illinois USA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 12-12-2015 09:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for astro-nut   Click Here to Email astro-nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When I met Joe Engle at Oshkosh in 2007 I asked him the question about being bumped off the Apollo 17 Flight. He told me that it was disappointing, but he then put all his effort, resources and training into the Space Shuttle ALT and OFT programs. He also said that Jack Schmitt was trained and qualified to fly the mission and that Jack did a great job on Apollo 17. He said it was disappointing, but did not dwell on it.

I also read in a book that the hardest part he had to do was to tell his wife and children that he was not going to get to walk on the Moon. I also think that he was offered a chance to fly on the ASTP but turned it down to concentrate and continue training for the Shuttle program.

Kite
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From: Northampton UK
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 12-12-2015 10:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Joe Engle took the decision for him not going to the Moon in a most professional way and has never whinged despite his disappointment. I think everybody has the greatest respect for him and the work he put in for the Space Shuttle.

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