Encyclopedia Astronautica

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Kerwin, Dr Joseph Peter (1932-) American physician astronaut. Flew on Skylab 2. Member of first successful space station mission.

Educated Holy Cross; Northwestern. Total EVA Time: 0.15 days. Number of EVAs: 1.

NAME: Joseph P. Kerwin, M.D

BIRTHPLACE AND DATE: Kerwin was born February 19, 1932, in Oak Park, Illinois.

EDUCATION: Kerwin received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from College of Holy Cross in 1953 and a Doctor of Medicine from Northwestern University Medical School in 1957.

EXPERIENCE: Kerwin completed his internship at the District of Columbia General Hospital, then joined the Navy and attended the U.S. Navy School of Aviation Medicine at Pensacola, Florida. He was designated a naval flight surgeon in 1958. He earned his flight wings in 1962. NASA selected Kerwin in its first group of six scientist-astronauts in June 1965.

He was named science pilot for Skylab 2, the first manned mission to the Skylab space station. Kerwin was launched to the crippled station on May 25, 1973, together with Commander Charles Conrad Jr. and Command Module pilot Paul Weitz. The launch had been delayed ten days while engineers sought ways to save the $2.6 billion project after Skylab entered orbit with its sun shield and one solar panel ripped off during ascent. NASA and Contractor engineers built a sunshade of thin, aluminized Mylar and nylon to erect over station, and cutting tools for freeing the remaining stuck solar panel.

Six hours after launch Skylab 2 rendezvoused with the station and confirmed the damage. Weitz, wearing a bulky space suit and with Kerwin hanging on to his legs, leaned out the open Apollo hatch and tried unsuccessfully to jerk the stuck solar panel loose with a long-handled tool resembling a boat hook. The astronauts then docked with the station but spent the night in their Apollo capsule. The next day they entered the sweltering lab and erected the folded-up sun shade through a small scientific airlock. The 7-by-8-m shade worked as planned, and reduced the temperatures in the station to warm but tolerable levels. The astronauts then were able to turn to the planned program of scientific study of the sun and Earth. Kerwin, America's the first physician in space, studied the adaptation of the crew to zero gravity. On the thirteenth day of the mission Conrad and Kerwin conducted an EVA. Attached to 60-foot tethers, they used cutting tools, leverage, and muscle power to finally free the stuck solar panel. The crew then settled into a daily routine, returning home after a record 4 weeks in orbit.

Following the flight, Kerwin became Director, Space and Life Sciences at NASA's Johnson Space Center. He resigned from NASA and the US Navy in 1987. From then until 1996 he held management positions with Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space Company. He presently heads Krug Life Sciences, a major research contractor with NASA.

Birth Place: Oak Park, Illinois.
Status: Inactive.

Born: 1932.02.19.
Spaceflights: 1 .
Total time in space: 28.03 days.

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
See also
  • Astronaut Category of persons, applied to those trained for spaceflight outside of Russia and China. More...
  • NASA Group 4 - 1965 Requirement: scientist-astronauts for Apollo lunar landing and Apollo applications earth-orbit space station missions. Nickname: The Scientists. More...

Associated Flights
  • Apollo 13 Crew: Haise, Lovell, Swigert. Altitude (401,056 km) record. Fuel cell tank exploded en route to the moon, resulting in loss of all power and oxygen. Only through use of the still-attached LM as a lifeboat could the crew survive to return to earth. Backup crew: Duke, Mattingly, Young.Support crew: Brand, Lousma, Kerwin. More...
  • Skylab 2 Crew: Conrad, Kerwin, Weitz. Record flight duration. Crew had to conduct major repairs to get damaged station in operation. Astronaut flung into space during release of solar wing. High temperatures in station brought down by deployment of sunshade. Backup crew: McCandless, Musgrave, Schweickart. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • USN American agency overseeing development of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. USN Joint Task Force 7, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Apollo The successful US project to land a man on the moon. More...
  • Skylab First and only US space station to date. Project began life as Apollo Orbital Workshop - outfitting of an S-IVB stage with docking adapter with equipment launched by several subsequent S-1B launches. Curtailment of the Apollo moon landings meant that surplus Saturn V's were available, so the pre-equipped, five times heavier, and much more capable Skylab resulted. More...

Kerwin Chronology

1965 June 28 - .
  • NASA Astronaut Training Group 4 selected. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Garriott; Gibson, Edward; Graveline; Kerwin; Michel; Schmitt. The group was selected to provide scientist-astronauts for Apollo lunar landing and earth-orbit space station missions.. Qualifications: Doctorate in natural sciences, medicine, or engineering. Under 35 years old, under 183 cm height, excellent health. US citizen.. 1,351 applicants. The National Academy of Science was responsible for the final selection. NASA planned to select up to twenty, but the quality of the applicants was considered so poor that only six were named. Of those, four would fly in space. Geologist Schmitt would walk on the moon on the last Apollo mission, and only after pressure from the scientific community. The other three would fly on Skylab. Only Garriot would fly twice, supplementing his 59 days on Skylab with a ten-day shuttle mission.

1970 April 11 - . 19:13 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39A. LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V. LV Configuration: Saturn V SA-508.
  • Apollo 13 - . Call Sign: Odyssey. Crew: Haise; Lovell; Swigert. Backup Crew: Duke; Mattingly; Young. Support Crew: Brand; Lousma; Kerwin. Payload: Apollo CSM 109 / Apollo LM 7 / ALSEP / S-IVB-508. Mass: 28,790 kg (63,470 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Haise; Lovell; Swigert; Duke; Mattingly; Young; Brand; Lousma; Kerwin. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: Apollo. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar spacecraft. Flight: Apollo 13. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Fuel Cell. Duration: 5.95 days. Decay Date: 1970-04-17 . USAF Sat Cat: 4371 . COSPAR: 1970-029A. Apogee: 186 km (115 mi). Perigee: 184 km (114 mi). Inclination: 32.5000 deg. Period: 88.31 min. Apollo 13 (AS-508) was launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 2:13 p.m. EST April 11, with astronauts James A. Lovell, Jr., John L. Swigert, Jr., and Fred W. Haise, Jr., aboard. The spacecraft and S-IVB stage entered a parking orbit with a 185.5-kilometer apogee and a 181.5-kilometer perigee. At 3:48 p.m., onboard TV was begun for five and one-half minutes. At 4:54 p.m., an S-IVB burn placed the spacecraft on a translunar trajectory, after which the CSM separated from the S-IVB and LM Aquarius. (The crew had named lunar module 7 Aquarius and CSM 109 Odyssey.) The CSM then hard-docked with the LM. The S-IVB auxiliary propulsion system made an evasive maneuver after CSM/LM ejection from the S-IVB at 6:14 p.m. The docking and ejection maneuvers were televised during a 72-minute period in which interior and exterior views of the spacecraft were also shown.

    At 8:13 p.m. EST a 217-second S-IVB auxiliary propulsion system burn aimed the S-IVB for a lunar target point so accurately that another burn was not required. The S-IVB/IU impacted the lunar surface at 8:10 p.m. EST on April 14 at a speed of 259 meters per second. Impact was 137.1 kilometers from the Apollo 12 seismometer. The seismic signal generated by the impact lasted 3 hours 20 minutes and was so strong that a ground command was necessary to reduce seismometer gain and keep the recording on the scale. The suprathermal ion detector experiment, also deployed by the Apollo 12 crew, recorded a jump in the number of ions from zero at the time of impact up to 2,500 shortly thereafter and then back to a zero count. Scientists theorized that ionization had been produced by 6,300 K to 10,300 K (6,000 degrees C to 10,000 degrees C) temperature generated by the impact or that particles had reached an altitude of 60 kilometers from the lunar surface and had been ionized by sunlight.

    Meanwhile back in the CSM/LM, the crew had been performing the routine housekeeping duties associated with the period of the translunar coast. At 30:40 ground elapsed time a midcourse correction maneuver took the spacecraft off a free-return trajectory in order to control the arrival time at the moon. Ensuring proper lighting conditions at the landing site. The maneuver placed the spacecraft on the desired trajectory, on which the closest approach to the moon would be 114.9 kilometers.

    At 10:08 p.m. EST April 13, the crew reported an undervoltage alarm on the CSM main bus B, rapid loss of pressure in SM oxygen tank No. 2, and dropping current in fuel cells 1 and 3 to a zero reading. The loss of oxygen and primary power in the service module required an immediate abort of the mission. The astronauts powered up the LM, powered down the CSM, and used the LM systems for power and life support. The first maneuver following the abort decision was made with the descent propulsion system to place the spacecraft back in a free-return trajectory around the moon. After the spacecraft swung around the moon, another maneuver reduced the coast time back to earth and moved the landing point from the Indian Ocean to the South Pacific.

1973 May 25 - . 13:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39B. LV Family: Saturn I. Launch Vehicle: Saturn IB. LV Configuration: Saturn IB SA-206.
  • Skylab 2 - . Call Sign: Skylab. Crew: Conrad; Kerwin; Weitz. Backup Crew: McCandless; Musgrave; Schweickart. Payload: Apollo CSM 116. Mass: 19,979 kg (44,046 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Conrad; Kerwin; Weitz; McCandless; Musgrave; Schweickart. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: Skylab. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar spacecraft. Flight: Skylab 2. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM. Duration: 28.03 days. Decay Date: 1973-06-22 . USAF Sat Cat: 6655 . COSPAR: 1973-032A. Apogee: 440 km (270 mi). Perigee: 425 km (264 mi). Inclination: 50.0000 deg. Period: 93.20 min. Epic repair mission which brought Skylab into working order. Included such great moments as Conrad being flung through space by the whiplash after heaving on the solar wing just as the debris constraining it gave way; deployment of a lightweight solar shield, developed in Houston in one week, which brought the temperatures down to tolerable levels. With this flight US again took manned spaceflight duration record.

    Skylab 2 , consisting of a modified Apollo CSM payload and a Saturn IB launch vehicle, was inserted into Earth orbit approximately 10 minutes after liftoff. The orbit achieved was 357 by 156 km and, during a six-hour period following insertion, four maneuvers placed the CSM into a 424 by 415 km orbit for rendezvous with the Orbital Workshop. Normal rendezvous sequencing led to stationkeeping during the fifth revolution followed by a flyaround inspection of the damage to the OWS. The crew provided a verbal description of the damage in conjunction with 15 minutes of television coverage. The solar array system wing (beam) 2 was completely missing. The solar array system wing (beam) 1 was slightly deployed and was restrained by a fragment of the meteoroid shield. Large sections of the meteoroid shield were missing. Following the flyaround inspection, the CSM soft-docked with the OWS at 5:56 p.m. EDT to plan the next activities. At 6:45 p.m. EDT the CSM undocked and extravehicular activity was initiated to deploy the beam 1 solar array. The attempt failed. Frustration of the crew was compounded when eight attempts were required to achieve hard docking with the OWS. The hard dock was made at 11:50 p.m. EDT, terminating a Skylab 2 first-day crew work period of 22 hours.

1973 June 7 - . 15:15 GMT - .
  • EVA Skylab 2-2 - . Crew: Conrad; Kerwin. EVA Type: Extra-Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.15 days. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Conrad; Kerwin. Program: Skylab. Class: Manned. Type: Manned space station. Flight: Skylab 2. Spacecraft: Skylab. Summary: Succeeded in release of jammed solar panel..

1973 June 22 - .
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