Author Topic: Apollo 14 crew descision  (Read 8739 times)

Offline Hoonte

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Apollo 14 crew descision
« on: 01/18/2011 09:19 AM »
I'm wondering what the descion was to make up the crew for 14.
All prior crews and crews after 14 were manned with at least one well experienced astronaut who flew at least one gemini mission.
Apollo 14 is allmost an all rookie astronaut mission (Ok Sheppard flew before but only a couple of minutes).
I thought after 13 they would put in a more experienced crew but they went for a crew with a total of 15 minutes of flight experiece.

Any thoughts or comments because this puzzles me.


Offline Jim

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Re: Apollo 14 crew descision
« Reply #1 on: 01/18/2011 11:03 AM »
I'm wondering what the descion was to make up the crew for 14.
All prior crews and crews after 14 were manned with at least one well experienced astronaut who flew at least one gemini mission.
Apollo 14 is allmost an all rookie astronaut mission (Ok Sheppard flew before but only a couple of minutes).
I thought after 13 they would put in a more experienced crew but they went for a crew with a total of 15 minutes of flight experiece.

Any thoughts or comments because this puzzles me.



This crew was actually going to fly before the Apollo 13 crew. 

Sheppard's experience was enough to qualify as "experience'.

Offline Hoonte

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Re: Apollo 14 crew descision
« Reply #2 on: 01/18/2011 11:19 AM »
I'm wondering what the descion was to make up the crew for 14.
All prior crews and crews after 14 were manned with at least one well experienced astronaut who flew at least one gemini mission.
Apollo 14 is allmost an all rookie astronaut mission (Ok Sheppard flew before but only a couple of minutes).
I thought after 13 they would put in a more experienced crew but they went for a crew with a total of 15 minutes of flight experiece.

Any thoughts or comments because this puzzles me.



This crew was actually going to fly before the Apollo 13 crew. 


I know.. So that they put them on 14 after the 13 accident surprises me even more.

Offline Leardawg

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Re: Apollo 14 crew descision
« Reply #3 on: 01/18/2011 02:02 PM »
The swap of Shepard and crew from Apollo 13 to 14 (obviously) took place well before the Apollo 13 mission, so questioning why such a relatively inexperienced crew would be assigned to the next mission is moot.

As for experience, Shepard and Roosa replaced Gordon Cooper and Donn Eisele respectively, both of whom had much more spaceflight experience and were technically in line for the slots having served on the Apollo 10 backup crew. However, there were other issues with Cooper and Eisele that resulted in management deciding not to assign them to a prime crew. I think Slayton had planned to eventually drop his rule that the CMP on lunar landing missions be a spaceflight veteran after the first couple of landings, if out of necessity more than anything else (there just weren't enough veterans available and willing to fill that role). I suspect Eisele was only a "seat warmer" for a rookie from the get-go. Regarding Shepard, I think he simply convinced Slayton and others that he was up to the task. He began sitting in on Apollo training classes and sessions well before he was returned to flight status, and put his nose to the grindstone in every way he could. He was a "man on a mission" to get assigned to a flight, and his determination and effort paid off. And the situation with Cooper was a convenient target for Shepard's ambition. Just my 2 cents.
« Last Edit: 01/18/2011 02:09 PM by Leardawg »
Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

Offline ZANL188

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Re: Apollo 14 crew descision
« Reply #4 on: 01/18/2011 02:20 PM »
Was Sheppard the only Mercury astronaut available for a landing mission other than Cooper?  I believe that Sheppard & Slayton wanted to get at least one of the original seven to the moon - even if that wasn't an official part of the selection criteria.

Offline Leardawg

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Re: Apollo 14 crew descision
« Reply #5 on: 01/18/2011 02:29 PM »
Carpenter and Glenn were retired by then. Schirra had announced his plan to retire well before Apollo 7. Grissom was gone. Slayton still grounded due to the irregular heartbeat issue. So Cooper and Shepard were the only ones available  by 1969.
« Last Edit: 01/18/2011 02:30 PM by Leardawg »
Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

Offline Skylon

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Re: Apollo 14 crew descision
« Reply #6 on: 01/18/2011 08:10 PM »
As for experience, Shepard and Roosa replaced Gordon Cooper and Donn Eisele respectively, both of whom had much more spaceflight experience and were technically in line for the slots having served on the Apollo 10 backup crew. However, there were other issues with Cooper and Eisele that resulted in management deciding not to assign them to a prime crew. I think Slayton had planned to eventually drop his rule that the CMP on lunar landing missions be a spaceflight veteran after the first couple of landings, if out of necessity more than anything else (there just weren't enough veterans available and willing to fill that role). I suspect Eisele was only a "seat warmer" for a rookie from the get-go. Regarding Shepard, I think he simply convinced Slayton and others that he was up to the task. He began sitting in on Apollo training classes and sessions well before he was returned to flight status, and put his nose to the grindstone in every way he could. He was a "man on a mission" to get assigned to a flight, and his determination and effort paid off. And the situation with Cooper was a convenient target for Shepard's ambition. Just my 2 cents.

Donn Eisele by most accounts had turned out a less than stellar performance as Apollo 10's backup, and was indeed a seat warmer of sorts. Slayton states he planned to move him over to Apollo Applications after Apollo 10. Tom Stafford says they basically had to fire Eisele, stating his work ethic tanked after he got remarried. Even his Apollo 7 crewmate, Walt Cunningham, believes Eisele didn't turn out the best performance on 10's backup crew. Maybe if he'd turned out a 110% performance he'd have flown as CMP on a lunar flight...he didn't.

Cooper was 10's backup CDR because there was literally no one else. Slayton insisted that Cooper was a "hard sell" to management. While Cooper seems to have been a great pilot, some accounts state he wasn't the most serious when it came to training. He wasn't even in the initial Gemini rotation (until Shepard got dropped). Deke felt he could turn to him, if he needed to (as he did on Gemini 5, and for the GT 12 and Apollo 10 backup crews), however, he clearly ranked other members of the Mercury 7 (Shepard, Grissom and Schirra) and just about all of the Group 2 Astronauts above Cooper.

On the other hand Shepard was always highly regarded by Slayton. If Shepard had been able to get back on flight status, Slayton would have assigned him to Apollo 1 instead of Grissom. He referred to Shepard as "the most capable pilot" they had. Regardless of actual time in space, Slayton felt Shepard was their best.

Had Shepard not returned to flight status, I am not totally convinced Slayton would have assigned Cooper as CDR of Apollo 13/14. He'd have Jim McDivitt, or Tom Stafford available, and could have just as easily turned to them.

Offline TJL

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Re: Apollo 14 crew descision
« Reply #7 on: 01/18/2011 09:04 PM »
I've read that Jim McDivitt was asked to fly as LMP on Apollo 13/14 with Shepard as CDR.

When McDivitt showed no interest, did Slayton offer any other experienced astronaut (Stafford, or maybe even Cooper) the opportunity to fly with Shepard as LMP?

IIRC, Shepard and Stafford were assigned earlier to fly on Gemini 3 before Shepard was grounded.
« Last Edit: 01/18/2011 10:11 PM by TJL »

Offline Skylon

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Re: Apollo 14 crew descision
« Reply #8 on: 01/19/2011 01:05 AM »
I've read that Jim McDivitt was asked to fly as LMP on Apollo 13/14 with Shepard as CDR.

When McDivitt showed no interest, did Slayton offer any other experienced astronaut (Stafford, or maybe even Cooper) the opportunity to fly with Shepard as LMP?

IIRC, Shepard and Stafford were assigned earlier to fly on Gemini 3 before Shepard was grounded.

Yes. McDivitt turned the offer down, believing Shepard needed more training time (maybe a stint as a backup). If he flew an Apollo mission he wanted to do it as CDR, and by Slayton's account, with his Apollo 9 crew (which wasn't going to happen since Dave Scott had his own crew at that point).  McDivitt also turned down the job of Chief of the Astronaut Office, which Shepard would have to vacate to train for Apollo 14. Tom Stafford took that position, removing him from consideration on any later Apollo crews.

Nobody else besides McDivitt and Ed Mitchell were offered the chance to serve as Shepard's LMP. Cooper was never offered anything.

I was merely supposing Al Shepard never returned to flight status in my earlier post.

Offline dks13827

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Re: Apollo 14 crew descision
« Reply #9 on: 01/19/2011 03:20 AM »
A lot of it had to do with Deke wanting to still get a chance to fly.  They wanted to show that an older and now ungrounded guy could still be successful, and of course Al wanted the moon.   Some of the vets you mentioned felt they had done their share of hard work and RISK and were content to step aside.  Example, Borman flew the LLTV 1 time and didnt like it one bit, saying, that was a 'hairy deal'.  All of the rookies on 12 through 17 were extremely competent and eager !! ( and the CDR's were also, of course. )  The last 3 missions were very physically grueling, IMO Shepard would not have fit into those mission profiles. The LMP's on 13 to 16 knew every bolt of the LM's, and Jack Schmitt was very competent in his job.

Offline Leardawg

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Re: Apollo 14 crew descision
« Reply #10 on: 01/19/2011 03:22 AM »
I believe that according to Cooper, he was offered the spot of backup CDR of Apollo 13, behind Shepard, and that was the best Slayton was prepared to offer. He declined, obviously.
Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

Offline dks13827

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Re: Apollo 14 crew descision
« Reply #11 on: 01/19/2011 03:28 AM »
 
Another interesting story is Neil's version of the 11 crew decision, he was offered Lovell on the crew but said Buzz was fine.  Then they had to decide if Buzz would be CMP or LMP.  Neil said that test pilot Mike should be CMP.   Now, if Mike had not recovered from neck surgery in time, the 11 crew would have had Neil, Buzz as CMP, and Haise as LMP.  A rookie on the first landing !!! 

Offline dks13827

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Re: Apollo 14 crew descision
« Reply #12 on: 01/19/2011 03:38 AM »
I believe that according to Cooper, he was offered the spot of backup CDR of Apollo 13, behind Shepard, and that was the best Slayton was prepared to offer. He declined, obviously.
Maybe that is correct but I never heard that one.  I would doubt it since Cooper was not going to get a landing mission and that would have screwed up the Apollo 16 training and rotation.
Mattingly said that Deke offered him 18 LMP slot, which he really wanted but was likely to get cancelled, or the 16 CMP slot, which was 'a bird in hand'... so that is what he took.  He said that he worked hard all the time on the 16 mission and got little sleep to speak of for most of the mission.

Offline asdert

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Re: Apollo 14 crew descision
« Reply #13 on: 01/19/2011 01:52 PM »
Mattingly said that Deke offered him 18 LMP slot, which he really wanted but was likely to get cancelled, or the 16 CMP slot, which was 'a bird in hand'... so that is what he took.

I'd say he was offered the 13 CMP slot, not 16.

Together with Stuart Roosa, Mattingly was the first Apollo rookie Group 5 astronaut to get a prime assignment without being backup first.
« Last Edit: 01/19/2011 01:55 PM by asdert »

Offline Leardawg

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Re: Apollo 14 crew descision
« Reply #14 on: 01/19/2011 02:24 PM »
I believe that according to Cooper, he was offered the spot of backup CDR of Apollo 13, behind Shepard, and that was the best Slayton was prepared to offer. He declined, obviously.
Maybe that is correct but I never heard that one.  I would doubt it since Cooper was not going to get a landing mission and that would have screwed up the Apollo 16 training and rotation.

From Cooper's biography "Leap Of Faith":

"One afternoon at the Manned Space Center, Al and Deke broke the news to me that they intended to name me command pilot of the Apollo 13 backup crew. ... I was coming off two earlier backup assignments, most recently Apollo 10 ...After two backup assignments in a row, I could normally have expected to receive a prime crew assignment next. I had been greatly counting on getting Apollo 13, ... Al and Deke were giving me Apollo 13 all right - but as a backup. I was furious, and told them hell would freeze over before I took another backup assignment. They just shrugged."
Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

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