Author Topic: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”  (Read 5586 times)

Online catdlr

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"The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?” Dr. James Hansen

NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center
Published on Oct 10, 2017

August 3, 2017 "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”

Dr. James Hansen

NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards California

 

Of all the Apollo astronauts, why was Neil Armstrong chosen to command Apollo 11 and also become the first astronaut to step out onto the lunar surface? In the process of answering this question, Dr. Hansen also examined important aspects of Armstrong's life story, a life that began quietly in small-town America and developed into his celebrated career as a naval aviator, aeronautical engineer, test pilot, and pioneering astronaut. Dr. Hansen explores the question of the complex legacy left by this reluctant hero and first man on the Moon.

 

Speaker: Dr. James Hansen

FIRST MAN (Simon & Schuster, 2005, 2012) by Dr. James Hansen is the only authorized biography of Neil Armstrong, first man on the Moon. The book spent three weeks as a New York Times Bestseller and garnered major book awards including the AIAA’s Eugene E. Emme Astronautical Prize, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Gardner-Lasser Literature Award, and CHOICE magazine’s Outstanding Academic Book.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPqsWgEqqBc?t=001

Tony De La Rosa

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One of my reasons as to why Neil Armstrong was chosen to be the first to set foot on the Moon was because of how he properly handled the stuck thruster problem during the Gemini 8 mission.
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Offline WallE

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #2 on: 10/11/2017 04:58 AM »
Deke Slayton was principally in charge of crew assignments and he had a good sense of who should go on what missions and which astronauts worked well together and had compatible personalities.

As I understand it, Slayton chose Armstrong because he was a soft-spoken and ultra-professional kind of guy who took himself and the mission seriously. They didn't want a joker like Pete Conrad to be the first guy on the Moon because he might say something undignified or silly when he stepped off the ladder. With Neil Armstrong, you could guarantee his first words would be something poignant and fitting.

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #3 on: 10/11/2017 05:07 AM »
One of my reasons as to why Neil Armstrong was chosen to be the first to set foot on the Moon was because of how he properly handled the stuck thruster problem during the Gemini 8 mission.
Also add in how he handled this lunar lander test vehicle crash:



He was very cool under pressure.

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #4 on: 10/11/2017 05:12 AM »
Another video of how he handled the thruster failure:


Offline deaville

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #5 on: 10/11/2017 09:56 AM »
Let's not forget that original plans called for the LMP - Aldrin - to be first out. One reason why this was changed was the way the LM door opened. Another more debatable factor was that Armstrong was a civilian and thus more in keeping with the non-military aspects of the Apollo programme.
Light travels faster than sound, which is why some people appear bright until they speak.

Offline Jim Davis

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #6 on: 10/11/2017 11:13 AM »
They didn't want a joker like Pete Conrad to be the first guy on the Moon because he might say something undignified or silly when he stepped off the ladder.

Which, in fact, turned out to be the case.

Offline JAFO

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #7 on: 10/11/2017 05:33 PM »
Deke Slayton was principally in charge of crew assignments and he had a good sense of who should go on what missions and which astronauts worked well together and had compatible personalities.

As I understand it, Slayton chose Armstrong because he was a soft-spoken and ultra-professional kind of guy who took himself and the mission seriously. They didn't want a joker like Pete Conrad to be the first guy on the Moon because he might say something undignified or silly when he stepped off the ladder. With Neil Armstrong, you could guarantee his first words would be something poignant and fitting.

WADR to Col. Aldrin, why not him when Bill Anders (fresh off Apollo 8 sans his LM) was ready and had trained with Armstrong, establishing a rapport already?
Anyone can do the job when things are going right. In this business we play for keeps.
— Ernest K. Gann

Offline WallE

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #8 on: 10/11/2017 06:41 PM »
WADR to Col. Aldrin, why not him when Bill Anders (fresh off Apollo 8 sans his LM) was ready and had trained with Armstrong, establishing a rapport already?

Probably had to do with crew rotation.

As for Jim Davis's comment, yeah...if you read the mission transcripts for Apollo 12, Pete Conrad was definitely a more jokey kind of guy and that's perhaps not the type that was desired for the first man on the Moon.

I remember from "Through The Fire" (although admittedly it's been a long long time since I've read it) that Michael Collins talked of Armstrong's selection being related to his quiet personality and tendency to think over his words carefully before saying them.

Offline Kansan52

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #9 on: 10/11/2017 07:04 PM »
Crew rotation fits for me. There was no guarantee Apollo 11 would land so 12 and 13 could be set up for tries before the end of 1969 (even though the end of the decade was 1970).

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #10 on: 10/11/2017 07:20 PM »
Politics, they wanted a civilian to emphasize the "non-military" conquest of space which was re-enforced by Neil's words "We came in peace for all mankind"... Which are written on the plaque fixed to the LM leg...
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Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #11 on: 10/12/2017 02:52 AM »
Politics, they wanted a civilian to emphasize the "non-military" conquest of space which was re-enforced by Neil's words "We came in peace for all mankind"... Which are written on the plaque fixed to the LM leg...

Naw... if LM-3 had been ready to fly in December, 1968, and the remaining alphabet-soup of missions had been flown as originally planned, Pete Conrad and Al Bean would have been the first humans to land on the Moon.

Deke set up the rotation in late 1967 such that one of three crews -- Stafford's, Conrad's or Armstrong's -- would get the first shot at the landing.  I don't think he truly cared which one got the first shot at it.  He just wanted one of those three crews to be The Crew.  Of those three crews, the only guy who had not actually flown in Gemini was Al Bean, but Beano had been a backup CDR in Gemini, so Deke was OK with him on one of the crews he, AIUI, thought of as being "the guys I was aiming at the first landings".  And Conrad *really* wanted Bean, once C.C. Williams died and had to be replaced.

Conrad, knowing that the first landing attempt would most likely come on Apollo 11 (it was penciled in as the G mission as early as late 1967), was delighted to have been the backup CDR of McDivitt's Apollo 8 -- per Deke's rotation, he would skip two flights and then been the prime CDR of Apollo 11.  And was really ticked off (to use the most polite language I can for it) when Borman agreed to swap places with McDivitt, making Conrad the backup CDR of Apollo 9, in line to command Apollo 12.

Neil Armstrong and his crew ended up getting Apollo 11 only because LM-3 wasn't ready to fly in 1968, George Low had a bright idea, and the D and E mission crews, right along with their back-ups, swapped places...
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline Michael Cassutt

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #12 on: 10/12/2017 02:49 PM »
Politics, they wanted a civilian to emphasize the "non-military" conquest of space which was re-enforced by Neil's words "We came in peace for all mankind"... Which are written on the plaque fixed to the LM leg...

Naw... if LM-3 had been ready to fly in December, 1968, and the remaining alphabet-soup of missions had been flown as originally planned, Pete Conrad and Al Bean would have been the first humans to land on the Moon.

Deke set up the rotation in late 1967 such that one of three crews -- Stafford's, Conrad's or Armstrong's -- would get the first shot at the landing.  I don't think he truly cared which one got the first shot at it.  He just wanted one of those three crews to be The Crew.  Of those three crews, the only guy who had not actually flown in Gemini was Al Bean, but Beano had been a backup CDR in Gemini, so Deke was OK with him on one of the crews he, AIUI, thought of as being "the guys I was aiming at the first landings".  And Conrad *really* wanted Bean, once C.C. Williams died and had to be replaced.

Conrad, knowing that the first landing attempt would most likely come on Apollo 11 (it was penciled in as the G mission as early as late 1967), was delighted to have been the backup CDR of McDivitt's Apollo 8 -- per Deke's rotation, he would skip two flights and then been the prime CDR of Apollo 11.  And was really ticked off (to use the most polite language I can for it) when Borman agreed to swap places with McDivitt, making Conrad the backup CDR of Apollo 9, in line to command Apollo 12.

Neil Armstrong and his crew ended up getting Apollo 11 only because LM-3 wasn't ready to fly in 1968, George Low had a bright idea, and the D and E mission crews, right along with their back-ups, swapped places...

Doug is close here -- bottom line, the choice of Armstrong and his crew was almost entirely due to Slayton's rotation. The qualifier comes from Doug's error: the commanders Slayton had identified as his choices for first lunar landings were Borman, McDivitt and Stafford.  He would have been happy with Armstrong or Conrad, and told novelist Allen Drury (researching THRONE OF SATURN in Houston in the fall of 1968) that Conrad was looking like the first to command a landing attempt.

Why didn't Borman get the assignment? He told Slayton prior to Apollo 8 that if that mission went well, he was not interested in another flight. With Borman out and McDivitt still assigned to the first test of the lunar module (and Stafford's crew lined up behind McDivitt's, so not really an option), the best move was to stick with the rotation and assign Borman's backup, Armstrong.

The mythology that Armstrong got the assignment because he was a civilian will clearly be with us until the end of time, but belief doesn't make it fact.

Michael Cassutt
co-author "DEKE!" and WE HAVE CAPTURE

Offline Phil Stooke

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #13 on: 10/12/2017 03:27 PM »
"Crew rotation fits for me. There was no guarantee Apollo 11 would land so 12 and 13 could be set up for tries before the end of 1969 (even though the end of the decade was 1970)."

Off topic, but the comment on end of the decade depends on how the decade is defined (and Kennedy did not define it, leading to the ambiguity).  So much hot air is vented over this that it does bear some clarification before Antarctica melts entirely.

The definition of a decade arises out of our definition of a century.  Pedantic friends - we all have them - will tell you that centuries always begin with the 01 year and end with the 00 year - so the 20th century runs from Jan 1901 to Dec. 2000.  But of course that's only one of two ways we refer to centuries.   Yes, we talk about the 18th, 19th, 20th centuries, but we are equally likely to refer to the century of 'the 1900s', or 'the 1800s', or now the 2000s.  And obviously the 1900s begin in Jan 1900 and end in Dec. 1999.  So century definitions are ambiguous if not clarified.

If you want to define decades as tenths of a century and you are committed to centuries only beginning in the 01 year, your decades will begin in the 01 year as well.  The first decade of the 20th century would run from Jan. 1901 to Dec. 1910.  But it's actually (I think) much more common for us to use the other definition of a decade in common speech: the 50s, the 60s, the 70s.  Clearly, the 60s begin in Jan. 1960 and end in Jan. 1969.  So it's perfectly legitimate to call Dec. 1969 the end of the decade.


Offline LaunchedIn68

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #14 on: 10/12/2017 05:20 PM »
Had LM-3 been ready in 1968 and the LEM test flight occurred then, what would Apollo 9 with McDivitt's crew have been?

Orbit the Moon?  I was always under the impression that unless there was a LEM along, to use its engine as a backup, there would be no orbit.
"I want to build a spaceship, go to the moon, salvage all the junk that's up there, bring it back, sell it." - Harry Broderick

Offline Phillip Clark

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #15 on: 10/12/2017 08:17 PM »
Had LM-3 been ready in 1968 and the LEM test flight occurred then, what would Apollo 9 with McDivitt's crew have been?
Orbit the Moon?  I was always under the impression that unless there was a LEM along, to use its engine as a backup, there would be no orbit.

McDivitt's crew would have flown the Apollo 9 mission but as Apollo 8.   Then Apollo 9/Borman crew was supposed to be a high-apogee mission like Apollo 8 to further test the lunar module in Earth orbit.   Apollo 10 would follow, taking the lunar module to selenocentric orbit.
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Offline Oersted

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #16 on: 10/12/2017 08:50 PM »
Buzz Aldrin, a famously egotistical and self-centered character who thought he was the best at everything, nevertheless said: "Neil Armstrong was the best pilot I ever knew".

Aldrin knew all the astronauts.

You don't need to go much further. Armstrong was just second-to-none.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/buzz-aldrin-neil-armstrong-was-the-best-pilot-i-ever-knew

Offline asdert

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #17 on: 10/12/2017 09:28 PM »
Back in 1966, when Armstrong was not yet listed as Apollo commander, he stated about the first man on the moon: "who the person is is sort of happenstance".

https://history.nasa.gov/ap11ann/interviewspdf/armstrongsept71.pdf (page 6)

Happenstance or destiny? He was there at the right time at the right place.

Offline WallE

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #18 on: 10/13/2017 01:22 AM »
"Crew rotation fits for me. There was no guarantee Apollo 11 would land so 12 and 13 could be set up for tries before the end of 1969 (even though the end of the decade was 1970)."

Off topic, but the comment on end of the decade depends on how the decade is defined (and Kennedy did not define it, leading to the ambiguity).  So much hot air is vented over this that it does bear some clarification before Antarctica melts entirely.

Kennedy's speech committing the US to landing on the Moon by the end of "this decade" was made in May 1961. Since he didn't define it, he could have meant May 1971 for all anyone knows.

And yes I've heard the arguments many many times that a decade begins on the year ending in a 1 and not the year ending in a 0. Usually these end up turning into inane debates about pop culture and when the fashion trends/music from the previous decade gave way to the trends from the new decade, but that's neither here nor there.

The program probably was rushed more than it should have; the Apollo 1 fire might have been avoided in that case and more could have been accomplished on some of the missions. NASA's original timetables for Apollo envisioned a much more leisurely pace with a manned lunar landing some time in the 1970s.

Offline deaville

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Re: "The First Man on the Moon: Why Neil Armstrong?”
« Reply #19 on: 10/13/2017 06:47 AM »
The program probably was rushed more than it should have; the Apollo 1 fire might have been avoided in that case and more could have been accomplished on some of the missions. NASA's original timetables for Apollo envisioned a much more leisurely pace with a manned lunar landing some time in the 1970s.

Wasn't the fact that there was the perception that the Russians were aiming to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the October revolution with a manned lunar landing a factor in the 'rushed' early days of Apollo?
Light travels faster than sound, which is why some people appear bright until they speak.

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