Author Topic: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night  (Read 146066 times)

Offline Ares67

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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #40 on: 05/23/2015 05:24 PM »
TRULY IN COMMAND

STS-8 CDR Richard Harrison “Dick” Truly, Captain USN, was born in Fayette, Mississippi, on November 12, 1937.  He was married to the former Colleen Hanner and had three children – Richard Michael (May 10, 1961), Daniel Bennett (Aug. 9, 1963) and Lee Margaret (Sep. 8, 1964). Dick Truly attended school in Fayette and in Meridian, Mississippi. In 1959 he graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a bachelor degree in aeronautical engineering and entered naval flight training at Beeville, Texas. He was assigned to Fighter Squadron 33. Following service as a carrier pilot aboard USS Intrepid and USS Enterprise, having logged more than 300 carrier landings, Truly completed the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards in 1964 and was subsequently assigned there as an instructor.

In 1965 he was assigned to the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program and became a NASA astronaut in September 1969. He was a member of the astronaut support crew and a Capsule Communicator for all three of the manned Skylab missions during 1973/74, as well as for the Apollo Soyuz docking mission in July 1975.


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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #41 on: 05/23/2015 05:25 PM »

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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #42 on: 05/23/2015 05:26 PM »

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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #43 on: 05/23/2015 05:27 PM »
Dick Truly and Colonel Joe H. Engle, USAF, were one of the two-man crews that flew Space Shuttle Approach and Landing Test (ALT) flights during the period June through October 1977. This series of critical orbiter flight tests initially involved Boeing 747/orbiter captive-active flights, followed by air-launched, unpowered glide, approach and landing tests. There were three captive tests with the orbiter Enterprise carried atop the Boeing 747 carrier aircraft allowing inflight test and checkout of orbiter systems, and five free flights which permitted extensive evaluations of the orbiter’s subsonic flying qualities and performance characteristics during separation, up-and-away flight, flare, landing and rollout – providing valuable real-time data duplicating the last few minutes of an operational shuttle mission. Truly and Engle flew the second and fourth free flights, with ALT 4 being the first flight in the orbital configuration – with the tail cone removed.

Truly was backup pilot for STS-1, the first orbital flight of the shuttle Columbia, and was the pilot on the second flight, STS-2, launched from Kennedy Space Center on November 12, 1981; Commander for this flight was Joe Engle. Despite a mission shortened from five days to two days because of a failed fuel cell, the crew accomplished more than 90 percent of the objectives set for STS-2 before returning to a landing on the dry lakebed at Edwards Air Force Base on November 14, 1981.

Major test objectives included the first unloaded test in space of the 50-foot remote manipulator arm designed to remove payloads from the orbiter payload bay, as well as to retrieve satellites for repair or return to Earth. STS-2 demonstrated the orbiter’s capability to support attached payloads and provide a stable platform for the conduct of Earth surveys. Extensive data was obtained for the OSTA-1 payload which was comprised of seven scientific experiments designed to test advanced techniques and instruments to survey Earth from space and gather data on Earth resources and Earth’s environment.

Twenty-nine flight test maneuvers were performed during the entry at speeds from Mach 24 (18,500 mph) to subsonic. These maneuvers were designed to most efficiently extract aerodynamic and thermodynamic data to verify the orbiter performance, stability and control, and heating characteristics during its hypersonic entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

“We are flying the Challenger,” STS-8 Commander Richard Truly remarked, “which makes me happy since I’ve flown the Enterprise and the Columbia – and I now get to fly the Challenger. And I hope they’ll let me keep that tradition up, frankly.” He had accumulated a total of almost 7,000 hours flying time aboard many different types of aircraft. He had been awarded two NASA Exceptional Service Medals, the JSC Superior Achievement Award and Special Achievement Award, the SETP Iven C. Kincheloe Award, the AFA’s David C. Schilling Award, the American Astronomical Society’s Flight Achievement Award, the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, and the AIAA’s Haley Space Flight Award.


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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #44 on: 05/23/2015 05:28 PM »

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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #45 on: 05/23/2015 05:29 PM »

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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #46 on: 05/23/2015 05:31 PM »
REQUIREMENTS FOR SPACEFLIGHT

STS-8 PLT Daniel Charles “Dan” Brandenstein, Commander USN, was born January 17, 1943, in Watertown, Wisconsin, and was married to the former Jane A. Wade of Balsam Lake, Wisconsin; they had a daughter, Adelle (Jan. 7, 1972). He graduated from Watertown High School in 1961. Asked what made him interested in becoming an astronaut, Brandenstein explained, “Well, the history of how I got involved and interested, growing up in high school and the like, there was no space program, so aviation was probably my interest. Although I never did any flying, I was always interested in airplanes. I built model airplanes and the like. And basically it kind of narrowed down to my freshman year in college, kind of had to chart a course through life. Up until that point, it had been a little of this, a little of that.”

“I guess, fortunately for me, it was during the Mercury Program, so now a space program had evolved that I was aware of. Since my interest in aviation was quite strong, it looked like the space program was the ultimate form of aviation. So at that point I thought, well, you know, you might as well shoot for the top of the heap, and I decided I'd consider, would like to be an astronaut. I wasn't sure what it all entailed and what I thought the requirements were. As I said, fortunately there were only seven astronauts at that time. I basically got the biographies of the original seven and just kind of took the common thread of those seven individuals. Basically, they were all military pilots, they were all test pilots, and they all had a degree in science or engineering or something like that.”

“So I was going to school at University of Wisconsin at River Falls, and they didn't have an engineering program, but I pursued a double major in math and physics, which was about as close to engineering as you could get there, and it was things I was really interested in. Through high school and throughout, math and physics were always my favorite courses. I was most interested in those. It also happened to be the path of least resistance through college for me. If I had had a major in history or English, I'd have been dead. So that kind of came together,” said Brandenstein, who received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and physics from the University of Wisconsin in 1965.

“Then my senior year in college, I started looking at the various military aviation programs. The Air Force sent their recruiters to the campus, and they were good recruiters, but they weren't aviators. They were enlisted professional-type recruiters. Whereas the Navy team that came were actual pilots, and they sat down and they told you flying stories and laid out what it was all about. They impressed upon you that the Air Force lands on three miles of runway and the Navy lands on 750 feet of pitching steel.”

Brandenstein, who entered the Navy in 1965 and was designated a naval aviator in 1967, continued, “So, once again, looking at what looked to be most interesting and most challenging, the naval aspect of aviation caught my fancy, and I went and took the tests and the physicals, and got selected, and right of out college then, went through aviation officer candidate training down in Pensacola, Florida, and got my wings through the Navy flight training program.”


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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #47 on: 05/23/2015 05:32 PM »
X-MAN

“So I basically had one of my Xs in a box as I perceived it. Then my Navy career took me into the A-6 community. I flew about two hundred missions in Vietnam, made two cruises over there off of two different aircraft carriers,” said Brandenstein, talking about his two combat tours aboard USS Constellation and USS Ranger. Looking back at July 1969, he talked about that small step for a man. “I was between my cruises, and I was home visiting my folks. I stayed up, I think, all night or most of the night on the living room floor while everybody else was in bed, watching it on TV. I guess this is maybe a vain attitude, but my initial impression, when Neil stepped on the moon, was that I was hacked off because I wanted to be the first one on the moon.” He laughs, “I got over it; it wasn't a big deal. But that was kind of my initial impression. But it was a tremendous achievement and it just reaffirmed my desire to get involved in the space program.” Brandenstein continued, “The Navy requirement to get into test pilot school was a minimum number of flight hours, so after my second cruise, I had accrued enough hours for that, so I applied for the Navy test pilot school, seeing to get the second X in the box.”

“The first selection I was selected as an alternate, so I was halfway there, I guess. But part of the way the program worked, if you were selected as an alternate, the next time they had a selection, you automatically were reevaluated and then put back in the selection process. And that time I got selected, so then I went to the test pilot school, then continued on for about three and a half years of flight test work,”  says Brandenstein. “That wrapped up in the middle part of the seventies, and the space program was more or less slowing down. Apollo had been stopped. The Skylab was in progress, but that had a questionable future, from what you read in the media.”

“At that point in time, we historically know now that the Shuttle Program was being developed, but it wasn't obvious to me at that point, as I recall. So I kind of thought, well, heck, my chances of being an astronaut are probably kind of slim, because it looks like the program's kind of winding down. So I went back to the fleet and continued my naval career, which I enjoyed very much. It was something that I enjoyed doing and felt a great deal of professional satisfaction doing it.” In 1975 Brandenstein was again assigned to USS Ranger as A-6 test and instructor pilot, cruising in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean.

“But then in '77, the call went out for selection for astronauts for the Shuttle Program, so I quick did a little research and said, ‘Wow! There is a chance.’ So the process worked that military folks had to apply through their parent service, so I filled out all the paperwork and sent it in to the Navy, and I passed their screening, and then those names got passed on to NASA. Then in – I think it was August of '77, I went to Houston, in the heat, and went through the week of interviews and the like, and then in January of '78, the word came from Mr. Abbey, the phone call. Actually, I was stationed right up here on Whidbey Island, Washington. In fact, it was early in the morning,” Brandenstein remembered.

“It was one of those things you kind of don't forget. I was in the shower and the phone rang. My wife answered and got me, dripping wet, out of the shower. George, in his typical fashion, started asking about the weather and everything else, you know. I wanted an answer; I don't want to talk about the weather. So ultimately he got around and wanted to know if I was still interested in coming to Houston and being an astronaut. The answer to that was pretty obvious. So then that was the last X in the box, pretty much, at least to be an astronaut. I still hadn't flown. So then in the summer of '78, we moved down to Houston and started our astronaut candidate training.”

« Last Edit: 05/23/2015 05:33 PM by Ares67 »

Offline Ares67

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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #48 on: 05/23/2015 05:34 PM »
NEW EXPERIENCES

“Well, obviously our group was all very excited,” Brandenstein remembered. “It was kind of interesting. See, we were the first group that had mission specialists in addition to pilots. Earlier I kind of went through my long-range planning because I'd been interested in it and looked at it since early on, and kind of laid all these milestones that I figured I had to accomplish to get there. But a number of the mission specialists, they weren't pilots and they never had been pilots. I think Sally Ride is one that comes to mind. I mean, she was saying how she was just walking through the Student Union one day and saw a flyer that said NASA was looking for astronauts, and that's really the first time she'd ever thought about it. For a number of the mission specialists, that was their attitude, because they weren't military pilots. Like I say, up until that point to the Shuttle Program that was kind of the Xs you needed in the boxes to be considered.”

“So the wide diversity of backgrounds that we had in that class was unique to NASA, and I personally loved it, because I've always been interested in a lot of things. I mean, I'm fascinated going into a factory where they make bubble gum or you name it, just to see how different machines and different things work. In my lifetime, I took up skiing and I didn't take lessons; I learned to do it through the school of hard knocks. I bought a sailboat and I made some sails because I thought it would be kind of fun to make a sail. So I was always interested in not just what I did, but kind of a wide variety of things.”

“So being now in a group with people that were doctors and scientists and all this was really fascinating to me. There were a lot of neat people there with very interesting backgrounds, that knew a lot about things I didn't have a clue about, so you could learn a lot more. And that was kind of the flavor of the training. The first year of training, they try and give everybody some base line of knowledge that they needed to operate in that office, so we had aerodynamics courses which, for somebody who had been through a test pilot school, was kind of a ‘ho-hum, been there, done that,’ but for a medical doctor, I mean, that was something totally new and different. But then the astronomy courses and the geology courses and the medical-type courses we got, all that was focused on stuff we'd have to know to operate in the office and at least understand and be reasonably cognizant of some of the importance of the various experiments that we would be doing on the various missions and stuff. So I found that real fascinating,” said Brandenstein.

“He's passed away now, but the astronomy course was Professor Smith out of University of Texas, and he was kind of your almost stereotypical crazy professor. I mean, he was just a cloud of chalk dust back and forth across the blackboard as he went on, and we had twelve hours of astronomy. He claimed that he gave us four years of undergraduate and two years of graduate astronomy in twelve hours. And it gave you a good appreciation of what it was all about. It didn't, by any stretch of the imagination, make me an astronomer, but the intent of it was, like I say, to give you an appreciation and give you an understanding, and then also because of the very special instructors they brought in, it gave you a point of contact. So if somewhere later in your career you had a mission that needed that expertise, you had somebody to go up to and get the level of detailed information you needed.”

“The other good thing about the classes, there weren't any written tests. You absorbed as much as you could. There were people in the class that were kind of the interim step. One of the guys I met there in my class turned out to be a good friend to this day, is Steve Hawley. He was an astronomer. I flew A-6s in the Navy, which was an attack airplane, so I don't know how it got around, but we ended up calling him ‘the Attack Astronomer,’ because he'd never flown. The mission specialists flew in the back seat of the T-38s. He really took to flying and really enjoyed it, so somehow during the evolution he got the nickname ‘the Attack Astronomer – A-squared.’ So, you know, he learned about flying and that type of operation, and I learned a little more about astronomy and the like.”

Dan Brandenstein continued, “There were a lot of those interchanges because you had such a diverse group of people. We always joked – and it was that way. I mean, like I explained how they taught you the astronomy, well, everything was pretty much that way. It was just dump data on you faster than you could imagine. A common joke was that training as an astronaut candidate was kind of like drinking water out of a fire hose; it just kept coming and kept coming and kept coming. Like I say, probably the good point of it was you weren't given written tests, so they could just heap as much on you, and you captured what you could. What rolled off your back, you knew where to go recover it.”

“That was – I can't remember, I think it was almost eighteen months that we were in that. I think the first AsCan class lasted that long. Ultimately it got streamlined and reduced (to one year). We had a lot of field trips. We went to all the NASA centers. Basically, being an astronaut, it's not real narrow, highly specialized; it's very diverse. Your missions carry a variety of experiments. So as I came to find out later in my time at NASA, you really look for people that are adaptable and have a more diverse background, almost the better off you are, because the way you operate in the office, you have assigned tasks for six months, nine months, a year, and these are technical tasks that you do when you're not training or flying a mission, and, you know, you get switched to another one, and you try and develop a corps of astronauts that really have a very broad base of experience and knowledge that covers the wide spectrum of the space program.”

“That was part of the reason of going to all the centers, because you got to learn what they did at all the other centers, so you got a better understanding. You went to the contractors, where they were building the shuttle, and go to understand that a little bit more and all that. So it gave you a really good, broad experience base. That's, I think, from my perspective, what I liked about the job. You weren't stuck in a small, narrow area. It kind of goes back to my nature. The Navy is kind of that way, too. They move you around in jobs every nine months or so, and that's what I always liked. I liked new experiences and learning more, and having a more diverse-type job as opposed to a very narrow focused-type job.”

“You got a full set of briefs on each system on the shuttle so you knew how the electrical system worked and how the hydraulic system worked and how the computer, and you got some time in simulators. You didn't get time in the upscale simulators, the moving base or the fixed base. They had what they called single-systems trainers where you kind of go in and you just learn one system at a time. The cockpit didn't move, but it had the basic displays and things. A lot of the switches, in a single-system trainer, a lot of the switches that weren't used in the level of classes you were getting were just pictures of the switches that you needed to operate, to learn the system you were working with, you actually operated.”

“So, yes, you got quite a bit of time doing that. Once again, it was the first time through, and you got a pretty good understanding of it, but it isn't until you really got further down the line in the real mission training that you really get to understand a lot of the subtleties of the shuttle.” Brandenstein continued, “Once you complete your candidate training, then you basically get assigned technical assignments.”


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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #49 on: 05/23/2015 05:36 PM »
FIRST ASSIGNMENT, FIRST EXCITEMENT

“My first technical assignment was on the support crew for STS-1,” said Brandenstein. “They don't even have those anymore. We had support crews up through about the fourth or fifth mission, I think. Basically, they also had prime and backup crews for the first couple of missions. The crews were spending so much time training that what the support crew did – and I think there were about four people on the support crew, if I remember correctly – maybe five or six. I don't even remember for sure. And basically our job, we were just kind of right-hand people for the crew. Part of it was we got to be CapCom. For STS-1, I started out as the backup CapCom for ascent, and Rick Hauck was backup CapCom for entry. I think Sally (Ride) and Jim Buchli were backup CapComs for the on-orbit phase, as I recall. I know Rick and I for sure. I'm not sure about the other two. I think that's where they fit in.”

“In addition to that, all the procedures to fly the mission and stuff were just being developed, so the crew would be over training and we'd be helping with the engineers and whatnot, developing the procedures that they would actually use to fly various parts of the mission. Once again, the support crew job was very diverse. We were CapComs. We were developing procedures.”

Brandenstein revealed, “I was actually probably most excited being the CapCom. Well, what had happened is, in the process of getting ready for STS-1, Ed Gibson, who was the primary CapCom for ascent, retired, so then all the powers-that-be, I guess, put their heads together and decided whether a new guy could be a CapCom on the first mission. Neal Hutchinson was the Flight Director for the first mission, and I think he had a lot of confidence in me and probably had a strong vote.”

“So anyhow, when Ed Gibson retired, as opposed to pulling another experienced astronaut in to be the ascent CapCom, I inherited that position, and Terry Hart moved up to be my backup. So that was kind of a thrill for me. To this day I think I was more excited being CapCom on the first mission than I was actually flying my own mission,” Brandenstein laughed. “I still look back and think about it, listen to the tapes. I mean, I settled down, but you make calls back and forth just to kind of check to make sure everything was working all right, and the first couple, it's real obvious that my calls, I was pretty excited.”

“I never saw a launch until STS-3, because I was CapCom also for ascent on STS-2. I still remember a bunch of the wives went down to the launch of STS-1, my wife being one of them, so all I saw of it was on TV. When she came back about two days later after the launch, it was two days later and she was still ricocheting off the ceiling. In all the years we'd been married, I'd never seen my wife half that excited. She was just something else. ‘You wouldn't believe it. You just can't believe it. What you see on TV is nothing! You ought to be there. You won't believe it.’"

“But I had to wait till STS-3 before I got to see one in person. And it is. I think it's significant that I think it's more exciting watching one as a spectator than being on one. People always look at me like I'm smoking something. But really, I always have explanations. I call them pilot explanations for things. I can explain medical things in pilot talk, and it's probably not right, but it at least is a way of explaining it that satisfies me,” said Brandenstein. “But when you're watching one, you have no real responsibility, and it is noisy. You hear the popping and the cracking and the big long flames shooting out and everything like that, and you have no responsibility. I get a lump in my throat and chills up and down the spine and all that.”

“But when you're on board, you're responsible for that baby, so you're checking instruments and you're making sure everything is working all right. You're not there to take it in; you're there to make it work. That's certainly a different perspective. I mean, don't get me wrong, I would never turn down a launch, the opportunity to go fly, to go watch one, but from a pure spectacle standpoint, the spectator point of view is more thrilling than the flying point of view.”

Brandenstein recalled the moment in April 1982 when he got his first chance to experience that flying point of view. “It always started with, ‘There's a call over at Mr. Abbey's office.’ The first six flights had been assigned, and they were all experienced people that had been around the office a long time. Nobody from our class had flown that. But it was hoping and guessing and rumblings like that, starting with 7, 8, and on, that they'd be picking up some of the new class and stuff. So I got called over one day and they said that I was going to be Dick Truly's pilot and was going to fly STS-8.”

“Well, obviously I’m looking forward to it,” Brandenstein said in July 1983. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for many years, and even more so after I was fortunate enough to be CapCom on the first flight. I envied John and Crip very much, and I’ve envied all the crews that have flown before me. And I’m really looking forward to it and anticipating enjoying it and having a good time and getting the job done.”


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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #50 on: 05/23/2015 05:37 PM »

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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #51 on: 05/23/2015 05:38 PM »
A TRUE TOP PERFORMER

STS-8 MS1 Dale Allan Gardner, Lieutenant Commander USN, was born November 8, 1948, in Fairmont, Minnesota, but grew up in Sherburn, Minnesota and Savanna, Illinois – an now considered his hometown to be Clinton, Iowa, where his parents resided. He was married to the former Sue Grace Ticusan of Indianapolis, with whom he had two children – Lisa Amanda (Dec. 18, 1977) and Todd Allan (Dec. 19, 1982).

Gardner graduated as Valedictorian of his class from Savannah Community High School in 1966. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering physics from the University of Illinois in 1970 upon graduation from the University of Illinois and was assigned to Aviation Officer Candidate School at Pensacola, Florida. Gardner was commissioned an Ensign and was selected as the most promising naval officer from his class. In October 1970 he attended Basic Naval Flight Officer training in Pensacola and graduated with the highest academic average ever achieved in the ten-year history of the VT-10 squadron. He proceeded to the Naval Technical Training Center at Glynco, Georgia, for Advanced Flight Officer training. Gardner was selected a Distinguished Naval Graduate and received his wings on May 5, 1971.

From May 1971 to July 1973 Gardner was assigned to the weapons system test division at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland. Here he was involved in initial F-14A Tomcat developmental test and evaluation as project officer for inertial navigation and avionics systems. Next, being assigned to the first operational F-14 squadron (VF-1) at Naval Air Station Miramar, San Diego, California, he flew Tomcat aircraft and participated in two Western Pacific and Indian Ocean cruises while deployed aboard the USS Enterprise. From 1976 until reporting to the Johnson Space Center in July 1978, Dale Gardner was with the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 4 (VX-4) at Naval Air Station Point Mugu, California, where he was involved in the operational test and evaluation of Navy fighter aircraft.

A member of the “TNFG” astronaut group, selected by NASA in January 1978, Gardner completed a one-year training and evaluation period in August 1979, making him eligible for assignment as a mission specialist astronaut. He subsequently served as the Astronaut Project Manager for the flight software in the shuttle onboard computers leading up to the first flight of Columbia in April 1981. He then served as a support crew astronaut for Columbia STS-4 in June/July 1982.

Now, although he knew his dream of flying into space was to become reality, Dale Gardner’s level of anticipation wasn’t as high as one would expect. “From an excitement standpoint,” he said six week before the launch of STS-8, “I don’t think that has got to me yet. We’ve been pretty busy just getting ready for the jobs to be done, and with changing over from the IUS to the RMS, we’ve been very busy making that transition. So, I think maybe in the last few days before the flight, when all that’s behind us, and the vehicle is in front of us, maybe that’ll change. But right now it’s still a lot of work.”


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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #52 on: 05/23/2015 05:39 PM »

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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #53 on: 05/23/2015 05:40 PM »
IN THE BACKGROUND

STS-8 MS2 Guion Stewart “Guy” Bluford, Jr. , after completion of his initial astronaut training at Johnson Space Center, had been assigned several tasks in the background as NASA prepared to fly the Space Shuttle for the first time. “My first assignment was to work with Bill Lenoir on the Remote Manipulator System. Bill was working with the Canadians as well as with the JSC Engineering Directorate to understand the operation of the RMS,” Bluford explained later. “This meant not only understanding the mechanical operation of the RMS but also the software and firmware that was used to operate the arm. A lot of time was spent in Toronto, Canada at the SPAR Corporation learning about the RMS. I worked with Bill Lenoir for about six months before I was transferred to support Don Lind in his support of Spacelab 3.”

Said Bluford, “Frequent shifting of jobs among the AsCans was the normal way to expand our knowledge and experience base in the astronaut office. I supported Don Lind for about nine months as we flew around the country talking to Principal Investigators about their experiments. We gave them suggestions on how to improve the design of their experiments in order to maximize the scientific return of their experiments when flown in space. Working with Don Lind gave me insight into payload preparations, Spacelab operations, and how experiments are integrated into the Space Shuttle. As we got closer to flying STS-1, I was sent to work in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory.”
 
“SAIL was an engineering mockup of all the avionics and electrical components of the Space Shuttle. The SAIL contained a high fidelity Shuttle cockpit that was used to check out the flight procedures of the Space Shuttle. For me this was a great job. I flew various ascent and on-orbit flight scenarios verifying the nominal and off-nominal operations of the Shuttle. I became very familiar with the nominal and off-nominal flight procedures as well as the flight data file. I flew multiple ascents and various ascent abort modes with numerous malfunctions to verify the performance of the flight software. I also flew on-orbit scenarios with simulated payloads, including the RMS. My job was to verify the performance of the flight software in preparation for STS-1.”
 
“In addition to working in the SAIL,” Guy Bluford added, “I was also assigned to work in the Flight Systems Laboratory (FSL) at the Rockwell International Corporation facility in Downey, California. This facility was used to verify the flight software for deorbit burns, entry, and landing. As part of that job, I was also checked out to fly simulated Shuttle approaches with T-38s on the White Sands Test Facility range in New Mexico. NASA put large speed brakes on the T-38s so as to simulate Shuttle approaches. This was done to help train pilot astronauts. This was an exciting time for me, because it gave me an opportunity to see and verify the flight software for all flight phases of space operations. I would spend a week in Houston flying Shuttle ascents in the SAIL and then the following week I would fly a T-38 out to El Paso, Texas, fly simulated Shuttle approaches on the White Sands Test Facility range, and then fly to Downey, California, to fly Space Shuttle approaches in the FSL. I did this for several years as we prepared for the first four flights of the Space Shuttle.”
 
Everyone was helping out for STS-1. “Most of the NASA manned space effort at the time was dedicated towards getting the Space Shuttle ready to fly on STS-1,” Bluford explained later. “Before the mission, my job was to help develop and verify the flight software for STS-1. We ran a lot of nominal and off-nominal flight simulations in both the SAIL and FSL in order to fully understand the operation of the flight software. We would then provide that information to the flight test engineers and to John Young and Bob Crippen as they prepared for STS-1. Also, the lessons learned from flying the SAIL and FSL were directly fed back to the flight simulator folks so as to enhance the astronaut training for the first four Space Shuttle crews.”
 
“During the STS-1 mission, I was assigned to work with Frank Reynolds of ABC News out at Edwards,” said Bluford. “My job was to provide technical support to the network during the final phases of the flight. I went out to Edwards a couple of days before lift-off and followed the mission from NASA Dryden Flight Research Center… I was on the TV set with Frank Reynolds during the entire broadcast coverage of STS-1’s landing. I was out of sight of the TV audience during most of the broadcast. As Frank Reynolds wrapped up the TV coverage of the event, I appeared with Frank on the set and we finished up the broadcast together. It was an exciting day for all of us to see John Young and Bob Crippen bring the vehicle home and confirm that the Shuttle was a safe and viable vehicle to fly. That evening, I got to meet both Chuck Yeager and Dan Rather of NBC News for the first time. I was also on Ted Koppel’s Nightline that evening. There was definitely a lot of celebration that evening among news people and NASA folks with the successful completion of the STS-1 Space Shuttle mission.”


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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #54 on: 05/23/2015 05:41 PM »
COMING TO THE FORE

And then it was time for Guy Bluford to come to the fore – the boss called him into his office…  “After the normal Monday morning astronaut office meeting, John Young, head of the astronaut office, came up to me and said ‘George Abbey wants to talk with you and you need to go over to George’s Office. Be over there by eleven o’clock.’ John did not indicate what the meeting was about, and so I assumed that Mr. Abbey wanted to talk with me about a new assignment or some aspect of what’s going on at SAIL or FSL.”
 
“As I was walking over to Mr. Abbey’s office in Building 1, I ran into Dale Gardner. I discovered he was going to the same meeting. I asked Dale, ‘What’s the meeting for?’ He said he didn’t’ know. We both speculated back and forth as to why Mr. Abbey wanted to talk with us as we headed to his office. When we arrived, we found Dan Brandenstein sitting outside of Mr. Abbey’s office. He had been invited to the same meeting and he didn’t know why we were there either.”
 
“After a few minutes of waiting, the door to Mr. Abbey’s office opened and he motioned for us to come in. He had been having a conversation with Dick Truly in his conference room and the three of us joined both of them. After some small talk, Mr. Abbey said ‘You know, you guys have really been doing a nice job in supporting the Space Shuttle flights; Dan, you have been working on the various flight data file items. Dale, you’ve been working software issues, and Guy, you’ve been performing tests in the SAIL and FSL. I know you guys really enjoy what you’re doing. However, I need some astronauts to fly on STS-8 and I was wondering if you guys were interested in flying on STS-8?’

“We all responded with a resounding ‘Yes.’ We definitely wanted to fly on STS-8. In our excitement, Dan Brandenstein asked who the commander was going to be on the flight. At that moment, Dick Truly looked over at Mr. Abbey and said, ‘George, can I fly on STS-8? Can I fly with these guys on STS-8?’ George sort of looked over at him and said, ‘Yeah, why don’t you fly on STS-8 as well.’ So that was how we were notified that we were going to be the crew on STS-8. It was an exciting moment for all of us as we left Mr. Abbey’s office. Later that day NASA made the announcement for both the STS-7 and STS-8 crews.”


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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #55 on: 05/23/2015 05:43 PM »
VANGUARD

“Bluford’s home was usually a very quiet place,” said author J. Alfred Phelps. “It was no different now. One son was away at Texas A&M University; the other was attending high school. Linda and the boys usually took for granted what Guy did for a living. ‘They’re not into aviation and space side. They don’t get all enthusiastic as I do,’ Bluford would say. But the media’s trumpeting got the better of them. Because of ‘the articles in the newspapers and the attention the media gave’ to his impending launch, ‘they got excited because they saw the excitement surrounding my getting ready to fly.’ Not one to ‘take his work home with him,’ he felt and saw that this time they ‘were interested. I know they were excited!’ he said.”

“I would like to have the opportunity to pilot the craft, but I think the role of a mission specialist is also equally important,” Bluford told reporters when being asked about his Air Force background. “And I’m very pleased right now about doing the job that I’m doing and my primary goal is to do the best that I can in the job that I have.” That was vintage Guy Bluford. As J. Alfred Phelps wrote, “He needed to be needed. He unflinchingly faced challenges. He had a sharp, analytical mind, a propensity for conducting exceptionally good research, and possessed an enormous amount of ‘stick-to-itiveness.’ He was a quiet, unassuming guy ‘who could live on bread and water if he had to.’

Like the first U.S. woman in space, Sally Ride, the first African-American spacefarer  to follow in her footsteps was reluctant to assume the title of “historical role model,” as Phelps put it. But Bluford also stated, “I recognize it from a historical point of view and can understand the amount of attention that’s been focused on this particular flight for that reason. But I also anticipate that this will become more routine and. you know, one day there won’t be as much attention paid to it. So I’ve just learned to accept it and recognize that it will eventually fade away.”

Guy Bluford was quite aware of the importance that the Space Shuttle program was representative of the community which supported NASA. Bluford said, “I think that minorities as well as blacks will be able to make as much meaningful contribution to the program as they do to the society that we’re part of.”   

“He is probably the best role model that you could’ve come up with,” former NASA deputy director for academic affairs stated, adding, “with one exception; he doesn’t understand the excitement other people feel about what he has done.” Guy Bluford put it this way: “There’s added attention when you are serving as a vanguard. Alan Shepard probably faced the same situation and many people in other places have faced the same situation. I think it’s a natural thing.”

ABC’s Lynn Sherr had asked him, “Sally said very specifically before she went up that she did feel there was some pressure on her not to ‘mess up,’ as she put it. Do you think that that pressure is on you also as the first American black (astronaut)?” Bluford replied, “I don’t sense it that way. I feel as if I’m a pacesetter, so to speak, but I don’t look upon at it as… that I have to be perfect as well. I recognize the fact that I’m the guy who’s setting the pace for the people who are going to fly behind me, but I don’t feel as if I have to be perfect as well.”


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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #56 on: 05/23/2015 05:45 PM »
DR. BILL’S STAR TREK

STS-8 MS3 William Edgar “Dr. Bill” Thornton, M.D., was born April 14, 1929, in Faison, North Carolina. Called “Moose” because of his 6’1’’ height, he married the former Elizabeth Jennifer Fowler of Hertfordshire, England. Their two sons, William Simon and James Fallon, were born March 15, 1959 and January 4, 1961, respectively. The son of a farmer, William Thornton “was always doing electronics, flying and science even as a child,” lifelong friend Anna Stroud Taylor said in 1984. Eleven years old when his father died, he began doing odd jobs and in high school opened a radio repair shop that later financed his education when he attended the University of North Carolina (UNC) as an Air Force ROTC student. He graduated in 1952 with a B.S. in physics.

During his stint in the Air Force – Thornton served at the Flight Air Test Proving Ground at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida – he patented the first of his 19 inventions – a missile scoring system that determined if planes shooting missiles and bombs at targets had hit them or not. Thornton left the Air Force in 1956 and, according to Michael Cassutt’s Who’s Who in Space, “worked as an electronics engineer, eventually becoming chief engineer of the electronics division of Del Mar Engineering laboratories in Los Angeles. He also organized and headed Del Mar’s avionics research division.”

From 1959 to 1963 – earning a medical doctor’s degree – Thornton attended UNC’s medical school, where he participated in cardiovascular research and invented the first computer for continuous analysis of EKGs. A symposium at the Air Force’s Aerospace Medical Division in San Antonio, Texas, turned Thornton on to space medicine. “Al Shepard had just made his flight and it was too good of a show to miss,” he said later. “Though I didn’t tell anybody, by then I had decided I wanted to get a ride in space myself.” Since NASA at that time had age limits and wasn’t taking on any scientist astronauts, Thornton signed up for the Air Force’s space medical research project in 1964.

“He completed his internship in 1964 at Wilford Hall Air Force Hospital at Lackland AFB, Texas, then returned to active duty,” says Michael Cassutt. “At the Aerospace Medical Division at Brooks AFB, Texas, Thornton became involved in the study of human adaptation to spaceflight. He worked on a program of exercise for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory with Dr. Kenneth Cooper, later known as the ‘father’ of aerobic fitness.”

In August 1967 Thornton became one of a group of eleven scientists admitted to the astronaut corps, “at a time when NASA expected to make several Apollo flights a year both to the Moon and in Earth orbit well into the 1970s,” Cassutt continues. “Shortly after the new scientist astronauts reported, however, NASA’s budget was cut and it was soon apparent that most of the 1967 group would have to wait for a flight, if they got one at all. They dubbed themselves the XS-11, “Excess Eleven.” By 1972 four of them would leave NASA without going into space. Thornton was one of those who stayed, completing Air Force flight training at Reese AFB, Texas, in 1968, to become, at 39, a jet pilot. He would eventually log over 2,500 hours of flying time.”

“If Captain Kirk had wanted the most knowledgeable and dedicated physician in the Universe, perhaps second only to Mr. Spock in intelligence, he would have chosen Dr. Bill for his Star Trek,” said Dr. Tom Moore of his NASA colleague. Noted astronaut Mary Cleave, who had consulted him about improving her grip strength, “He takes out his little computer etchings and starts talking to you about your reach. He’s a doctor, but – let’s face it – he thinks like a physicist.”

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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #57 on: 05/23/2015 05:46 PM »

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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #58 on: 05/23/2015 05:47 PM »
LEARNING CURVE

From July 26 to September 19, 1972, Dr. Thornton was a member of the SMEAT Skylab mission simulation. He later served as support crewmember and CapCom for all three missions aboard the first American space station. “For several months in 1973 and 1974, an improvised vehicle, called Skylab, not only set precedents and records for space travel but also provided data that will be used whenever human beings leave Earth. Much of this data was gathered through the impromptu studies generated by necessity and through joint efforts by astronauts and life scientists. Much of it remains unique,” Dr. Thornton explained. “Up to that time, the longest flight in space had lasted 18 days, and its crew had to be carried from their capsule.”

“As in any first time effort, the learning curve on Skylab was steep and frustrations frequent. Life scientists demonstrated remarkable assurance, reducing diets to 2,000 calories per day. They were so sure of cycle ergometry for adequate exercise, that strength loss was not even measured. Hardware for life sciences gave aerospace contractors and mission planners so much trouble that it was decided to test the flight equipment and procedures in a 56-day, 4-psi chamber simulation called Skylab Medical Experiments Altitude Test (SMEAT),” said Thornton.

“After many delays Bob Crippen, Karol Bobko and I started our unbroken diet of Skylab food and water. Iced urine and fecal collection (in bright anodized boxes) were carried with us wherever we went for over four months! Daily improvisation was needed to cope with multiple failures and unexpected results, all of which was excellent training for mission support. Most troublesome for me was the repeated bursting on unrefrigerated urine collection bags and the resulting cleanup of the urine volume measuring system, with its multiple sharp edges and points. There were numerous other failures such as the cycle ergometer and our diet – I lost 18 pounds and developed a loathing for the prescribed supplement of sugar drops and cookies.”

Thornton continued, “Many essential changes were made during testing, including total redesign of the urine collection system, but other changes were not made; for example, there was no augmentation of exercise devices or change to our diet. I obtained permission to make pre- and post-strength measurements and used discarded equipment for the task.”


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Re: Challenger STS-8 – In the Dark of the Night
« Reply #59 on: 05/23/2015 05:48 PM »

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