Author Topic: Michael Smith's Backup Assignment  (Read 4209 times)

Offline Skylon

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Michael Smith's Backup Assignment
« on: 05/24/2010 02:47 am »
I've seen it noted, particularly in Mike Mullane's book, that STS 51-L pilot Michael Smith was assigned to backup the pilot of an earlier shuttle mission, who was facing a potentially career ending medical problem.

Has it ever been revealed what flight Smith was unofficial backup for, which in turn would reveal who the Shuttle Pilot was whose career almost ended?

Offline Michael Cassutt

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Re: Michael Smith's Backup Assignment
« Reply #1 on: 05/24/2010 03:42 am »
I've seen it noted, particularly in Mike Mullane's book, that STS 51-L pilot Michael Smith was assigned to backup the pilot of an earlier shuttle mission, who was facing a potentially career ending medical problem.

Has it ever been revealed what flight Smith was unofficial backup for, which in turn would reveal who the Shuttle Pilot was whose career almost ended?

Yes.  It was 51-C, the DOD mission flown by Mattingly, Shriver, Onziuka, Buchli and Payton in January 1985.  Smith was training in parallel with Shriver while that astronaut's medical status was under review.

Michael Cassutt

Offline brad2007a

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Re: Michael Smith's Backup Assignment
« Reply #2 on: 05/25/2010 08:10 pm »
I've seen it noted, particularly in Mike Mullane's book, that STS 51-L pilot Michael Smith was assigned to backup the pilot of an earlier shuttle mission, who was facing a potentially career ending medical problem.

Has it ever been revealed what flight Smith was unofficial backup for, which in turn would reveal who the Shuttle Pilot was whose career almost ended?



Yes.  It was 51-C, the DOD mission flown by Mattingly, Shriver, Onziuka, Buchli and Payton in January 1985.  Smith was training in parallel with Shriver while that astronaut's medical status was under review.

Michael Cassutt


I read that book, and I wondered the same thing. Thanks for clearing that up.

However, and this question might warrant a "who the heck knows?" response, who would have replaced Smith on 51-L if Shriver couldn't have flown 51-C? Was Smith even assigned to 51-L yet at the time he was backing up Shriver?
« Last Edit: 05/25/2010 08:10 pm by brad2007a »
Democrats haven't been this mad at Republicans since the Republicans took away their slaves..

Offline Michael Cassutt

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Re: Michael Smith's Backup Assignment
« Reply #3 on: 05/25/2010 08:41 pm »
I've seen it noted, particularly in Mike Mullane's book, that STS 51-L pilot Michael Smith was assigned to backup the pilot of an earlier shuttle mission, who was facing a potentially career ending medical problem.

Has it ever been revealed what flight Smith was unofficial backup for, which in turn would reveal who the Shuttle Pilot was whose career almost ended?



Yes.  It was 51-C, the DOD mission flown by Mattingly, Shriver, Onziuka, Buchli and Payton in January 1985.  Smith was training in parallel with Shriver while that astronaut's medical status was under review.

Michael Cassutt


I read that book, and I wondered the same thing. Thanks for clearing that up.

However, and this question might warrant a "who the heck knows?" response, who would have replaced Smith on 51-L if Shriver couldn't have flown 51-C? Was Smith even assigned to 51-L yet at the time he was backing up Shriver?

He wasn't.  In fact, Smith's first proposed assignment was as Crippen's PLT on the first Vandenberg crew, but the Air Force objected to the idea of a Navy CDR/PLT team on a launch from their facility, so Gardner got the mission and Smith rotated to 51-L.

MC

Offline brad2007a

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Re: Michael Smith's Backup Assignment
« Reply #4 on: 05/25/2010 08:47 pm »
I've seen it noted, particularly in Mike Mullane's book, that STS 51-L pilot Michael Smith was assigned to backup the pilot of an earlier shuttle mission, who was facing a potentially career ending medical problem.

Has it ever been revealed what flight Smith was unofficial backup for, which in turn would reveal who the Shuttle Pilot was whose career almost ended?



Yes.  It was 51-C, the DOD mission flown by Mattingly, Shriver, Onziuka, Buchli and Payton in January 1985.  Smith was training in parallel with Shriver while that astronaut's medical status was under review.

Michael Cassutt


I read that book, and I wondered the same thing. Thanks for clearing that up.

However, and this question might warrant a "who the heck knows?" response, who would have replaced Smith on 51-L if Shriver couldn't have flown 51-C? Was Smith even assigned to 51-L yet at the time he was backing up Shriver?

He wasn't.  In fact, Smith's first proposed assignment was as Crippen's PLT on the first Vandenberg crew, but the Air Force objected to the idea of a Navy CDR/PLT team on a launch from their facility, so Gardner got the mission and Smith rotated to 51-L.

MC

You sir, are the man. Thanks again.
Democrats haven't been this mad at Republicans since the Republicans took away their slaves..

Offline TJL

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Re: Michael Smith's Backup Assignment
« Reply #5 on: 05/25/2010 08:57 pm »
As a side note, Mike Smith was also assigned as PLT on STS 61-N which was scheduled for September '86.
My guess...if Smith actually flew on 51-C, Dick Richards (scheduled as PLT on 61-E) may have been moved up to 51-L.
« Last Edit: 05/25/2010 08:58 pm by TJL »

Offline kevind

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Re: Michael Smith's Backup Assignment
« Reply #6 on: 05/25/2010 09:04 pm »
If I remember correctly, before he was assigned to the crew that eventually flew 51-L, Smith was assigned as PLT for the original Spacelab 4 flight with Vance Brand as commander.

Offline Skylon

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Re: Michael Smith's Backup Assignment
« Reply #7 on: 05/25/2010 10:44 pm »
I've seen it noted, particularly in Mike Mullane's book, that STS 51-L pilot Michael Smith was assigned to backup the pilot of an earlier shuttle mission, who was facing a potentially career ending medical problem.

Has it ever been revealed what flight Smith was unofficial backup for, which in turn would reveal who the Shuttle Pilot was whose career almost ended?

Yes.  It was 51-C, the DOD mission flown by Mattingly, Shriver, Onziuka, Buchli and Payton in January 1985.  Smith was training in parallel with Shriver while that astronaut's medical status was under review.

Michael Cassutt

Thanks Michael.

Were the specifics of Shriver's condition ever made public?

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