Encyclopedia Astronautica

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Slayton, Donald Kent 'Deke' (1924-1993) American test pilot astronaut. Slated to fly third Mercury mission, grounded due to a medical issue and became astronaut commander, assigning crews for lunar landings. Later finally flew on Apollo (ASTP).

NASA Official Biography

NAME: Deke Slayton (Mr.)
NASA Astronaut (Deceased)

Born March 1, 1924, in Sparta, Wisconsin. Died June 13, 1993. He is survived by wife, Bobbie, and son, Kent.

Graduated from Sparta High School; received a bachelor of science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1949.

Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the American Astronautical Society; associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; member of the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Space Pioneers, and the Confederate Air Force; life member of the Order of Daedalians, the National Rifle Association of America, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Fraternal Order of Eagles; honorary member of the American Fighter Aces Association, and the National WWII Glider Pilots Association.

NASA Distinguished Service Medal (3); NASA Exceptional Service Medal; the Collier Trophy; the SETP Iven C. Kincheloe Award; the Gen. Billy Mitchell Award; the SEPT J.H. Doolittle Award (1972); the National Institute of Social Sciences Gold Medal (1975); the Zeta Beta Tau's Richard Gottheil Medal (1975); the Wright Brothers International Manned Space Flight Award (1975); the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Space Award (1976); the American Heart Association's Heart of the Year Award (1976); the District 35-R Lions International American of the Year Award (1976); the AIAA Special Presidential Citation (1977); the University of Minnesota's Outstanding Achievement Award (1977); the Houston Area Federal Business Association's Civil Servant of the Year Award (1977); the AAS Flight Achievement Award for 1976 (1977); the AIAA Haley Astronautics Award for 1978; the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (1978); honorary doctorate in Science from Carthage College, Carthage, Illinois, in 1961; honorary doctorate in Engineering from Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, in 1965.

Slayton entered the Air Force as an aviation cadet and received his wings in April 1943 after completing flight training at Vernon and Waco, Texas.

As a B-25 pilot with the 340th Bombardment Group, he flew 56 combat missions in Europe. He returned to the United States in mid-1944 as a B-25 instructor pilot at Columbia, South Carolina, and later served with a unit responsible for checking pilot proficiency in the A-26. In April 1945, he was sent to Okinawa with the 319th Bombardment Group and flew seven combat missions over Japan. He served as a B-25 instructor for one year following the end of the war and subsequently left the Air Force to enter the University of Minnesota. He became an aeronautical engineer after graduation and worked for two years with the Boeing Aircraft Corporation at Seattle, Washington, before being recalled to active duty in 1951 with the Minnesota Air National Guard.

Upon reporting for duty, he was assigned as maintenance flight test officer of an F-51 squadron located in Minneapolis, followed by 18-months as a technical inspector at Headquarters Twelfth Air Force, and a similar tour as fighter pilot and maintenance office with the 36th Fighter Day Wing at Bitburg, Germany. Returning to the United States in June 1955, he attended the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California. He was a test pilot there from January 1956 until April 1959 and participated in the testing of fighter aircraft built for the United States Air Force and some foreign countries.

He has logged more than 6,600 hours flying time, including 5,100 hours in jet aircraft.

Mr. Slayton was named as one of the Mercury astronauts in April 1959. He was originally scheduled to pilot the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission but was relieved of this assignment due to a heart condition discovered in August 1959.

Slayton became Coordinator of Astronaut Activities in September 1962 and was responsible for the operation of the astronaut office. In November 1963, he resigned his commission as an Air Force Major to assume the role of Director of Flight Crew Operations. In this capacity, he was responsible for directing the activities of the astronaut office, the aircraft operations office, the flight crew integration division, the crew training and simulation division, and the crew procedures division. Slayton was restored to full flight status and certified eligible for manned space flights in March 1972, following a comprehensive review of his medical status by NASA's Director of Life Sciences and the Federal Aviation Agency.

Mr. Slayton made his first space flight as Apollo docking module pilot of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) mission, July 15-24, 1975a joint space flight culminating in the first historical meeting in space between American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts. Completing the United States flight crew for this 9-day earth-orbital mission were Thomas P. Stafford (Apollo commander) and Vance D. Brand (Apollo command module Pilot). In the Soviet spacecraft were cosmonauts Alexey Leonov (Soyuz commander) and Valeriy Kubasov (Soyuz flight engineer). The crewmen of both nations participated in a rendezvous and subsequent docking, with Apollo the active spacecraft. The event marked the successful testing of a universal docking system and signaled a major advance in efforts to pave the way for the conduct of joint experiments and/or the exchange of mutual assistance in future international space explorations. There were 44 hours of docked joint activities during ASTP, highlighted by four crew transfers and the completion of a number of joint scientific experiments and engineering investigations. All major ASTP objectives were accomplished and included: testing a compatible rendezvous system in orbit; testing of androgynous docking assemblies; verifying techniques for crew transfers; and gaining experience in the conduct of joint international flights. Apollo splashed down in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii and was quickly recovered by the USS New Orleans. Slayton logged 217 hours and 28 minutes in his first space flight.

From December 1975 through November 1977, Slayton served as Manager for Approach and Landing Test Project. He directed the Space Shuttle approach and landing test project through a series of critical orbiter flight tests that allowed in-flight test and checkout of flight controls and orbiter subsystems and permitted extensive evaluations of the orbiter's subsonic flying qualities and performance characteristics.

He next served as Manager for Orbital Flight Test, directing orbital flight mission preparations and conducting mission operations. He was responsible for OFT operations scheduling, mission configuration control, preflight stack configuration control, as well as conducting planning reviews, mission readiness reviews, and postflight mission evaluations. He was also responsible for the 747/orbiter ferry program.

Slayton retired from NASA in 1982. He was president of Space Services Inc., of Houston, a company he founded to develop rockets for small commercial payloads.

JUNE 1993


Departed Date: 1982-02-27. Cause of Death: Natural causes - Complications from a brain tumour.. Marital Status: Married. Children: One child. Education: Minnesota;Edwards.

NAME: Donald K. (Deke) Slayton

BIRTHPLACE AND DATE: Slayton was born in Sparta, WI, on March 1, 1924.

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1949. Honorary degrees from Carthage College in Illinois and Michigan Technological University.

EXPERIENCE: Slayton joined the Air Force in 1942 and during World War II flew 56 combat missions in Europe as a B-25 pilot with the 340th Bombardment Group. Later he was assigned to the 319th Bombardment Group in Okinawa and flew seven combat missions over Japan. After the war he attended college and then became an aeronautical engineer with the Boeing Aircraft Company in Seattle. A member of the Minnesota Air National Guard, he was recalled to active duty in 1951 and served with Headquarters, Twelfth Air Force, and later with the 36th Fighter Day Wing in Germany. He remained in the Air Force and attended the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, followed by an assignment there as an experimental test pilot.

Slayton was selected as one of the United States' seven original astronauts in 1959. He was assigned to fly the second Project Mercury orbital mission, but was grounded by an irregular heartbeat. He stayed with NASA to supervise the astronaut corps, first as Chief of the Astronaut Office and then as Director of Flight Crew Operations. In these positions he determined the crew assignments for all of the Gemini and Apollo missions. Slayton was finally restored to flight status in 1972 and finally made it into space on July 17, 1975 as a crew member on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. Slayton, Tom Stafford, and Vance Brand manoeuvred their Apollo capsule to a docking with a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft carrying Alexei Leonov and Valery Kubasov. After 47 hours of joint experiments with the Soyuz, Apollo undocked and remained in orbit for a total of nine days, conducting other materials, biological, and earth photography experiments. This last flight of an Apollo spacecraft almost ended in disaster when toxic propellants leaked into the cabin during descent to the Pacific Ocean, harming the astronauts. For two years after the mission, Slayton was Manager of the Space Shuttle Approach and Landing Tests at Edwards Air Force Base. From 1977 to 1982, Slayton was Manager for the first six Space Shuttle Orbital Flight Tests.

Slayton then retired from NASA and went into a series of space-related positions, finally as President of Space Services, Incorporated, which was developing the low cost Conestoga booster for launch of commercial space payloads. Slayton died in League City, Texas, from complications of a brain tumour, on June 13, 1993. Biography: Deke! by Michael Cassutt.

Birth Place: Sparta, Wisconsin.
Status: Deceased.

Born: 1924.03.01.
Died: 1993.06.13.
Spaceflights: 1 .
Total time in space: 9.06 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 1 - 1959 Requirement: six pilots for the single-crew Mercury manned spacecraft. Originally a wide pool of candidates was going to be considered, but in December 1958 President Eisenhower ruled that military test pilots would form the candidate pool. Nickname: The Original Seven More...

Associated Flights
  • Mercury MR-5 Crew: Glenn. Planned Mercury suborbital flight. After Soviet full-day orbital flight in August 1961, NASA's suborbital hops looked pathetic. Further suborbital Mercury flights were cancelled. Backup crew: Slayton. More...
  • Mercury MR-6 Crew: Slayton. Planned Mercury suborbital flight. Cancelled July 1961; delays in Redstone flights meant Atlas orbital flights were imminent. More...
  • Mercury MA-7 Delta 7 Crew: Slayton. Planned second US manned orbital flight. Cancelled 18 March 1962 when astronaut's minor heart condition became public. Backup crew: Schirra. More...
  • Apollo (ASTP) Crew: Brand, Slayton, Stafford. First international joint manned space mission; first docking between two spacecraft launched from different countries. Crew nearly killed by toxic propellant vapours dumped into the cabin air supply during re-entry. Backup crew: Bean, Evans, Lousma. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • USAF American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. United States Air Force, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • ASTP Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. Meetings began in 1969 between Russian and American representatives on a joint manned space mission. Ambitious plans for use of Skylab or Salyut space stations were not approved. Instead it was decided to develop a universal docking system for space rescue. A working group was set up in October 1970 and in May 1972 the USA/USSR Agreement was signed with launch to take place in 1975. D Bushuev and G Lanin were the technical directors of the Soviet-designed EPAS docking system program. 1600 experiments were conducted in developing the system. More...

  • NASA Astronaut Biographies, Johnson Space Center, NASA, 1995-present. Web Address when accessed: here.

Slayton Chronology

1959 April 2 - .
  • NASA Astronaut Training Group 1 selected. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Carpenter; Cooper; Glenn; Grissom; Schirra; Shepard; Slayton. The group was selected to provide six pilots for the single-crew Mercury manned spacecraft. Originally a wide pool of candidates was going to be considered, but in December 1958 President Eisenhower ruled that military test pilots would form the candidate pool.. Qualifications: Qualified jet pilot with minimum 1,500 flight-hours/10 years experience, graduate of test pilot school, bachelor's degree or equivalent, under 40 years old, under 180 cm height, excellent physical condition.. Screening of military service records showed 110 military officers that met these criteria. These 110 were to be called in three groups for briefings on the Mercury program. Of the first two groups of 35 called, 56 volunteered for further physical and psychiatric tests. This provided enough candidates and the third group was never even called for a briefing or asked if they would like to volunteer. Of the 56 tested, seven were finally selected (no objective way was found to reduce the seven finalists to six).

    Of the seven astronauts, all eventually flew in space. Grounded due to a heart murmur, Slayton had to wait 16 years for his flight aboard the last Apollo mission. Glenn left for a career in politics after becoming the first American to orbit the earth, but returned to space aboard a shuttle over 36 years later in a NASA publicity stunt. Schirra was the only astronaut to fly aboard Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo spacecraft. Shepard was the only one to reach the lunar surface (after being grounded for a medical condition during the Gemini program). Grissom would die in the Apollo 204 ground fire.

1959 April 2 - .
  • Seven astronauts selected for Mercury project. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Cooper; Grissom; Slayton; Carpenter; Shepard; Schirra; Glenn. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. Seven astronauts were selected for Project Mercury after a series of the most rigorous physical and mental tests ever given to U.S. test pilots. Chosen from a field of 110 candidates, the finalists were all qualified test pilots: Capts. Leroy G. Cooper, Jr., Virgil I. Grissom, and Donald K. Slayton, (USAF); Lt. Malcolm S. Carpenter, Lt. Comdr. Alan B. Shepard, Jr., and Lt. Comdr. Watler M. Schirra, Jr. (USN); and Lt. Col. John H. Glenn (USMC).

1961 Late summer - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV. LV Configuration: Redstone MRLV-4.
  • Mercury MR-5 (cancelled) - . Crew: Glenn. Backup Crew: Slayton. Payload: Mercury SC15. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Glenn; Slayton. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-5. Spacecraft: Mercury. The original Mercury project plan envisioned all of the astronauts making an initial suborbital hop aboard a Redstone booster before making an orbital flight aboard an Atlas. But Gherman Titov was launched on a full-day orbital flight in August 1961, making NASA's suborbital hops look pathetic. Further suborbital Mercury flights after that of Grissom were cancelled.

1961 Autumn - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV. LV Configuration: Redstone MRLV-6.
  • Mercury MR-6 (cancelled) - . Crew: Slayton. Payload: Mercury SC16. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Webb; Slayton. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-6. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: After the Russians began orbiting cosmonauts, NASA cancelled further suborbital flights. The MR-6 mission was cancelled by NASA administrator James Webb at the beginning of July, 1961..

1962 May - .
  • Mercury MA-7 Delta 7 (cancelled) - . Call Sign: Delta 7. Crew: Slayton. Backup Crew: Schirra. Payload: Mercury SC18. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Johnson, Lyndon; McNamara; Slayton; Schirra. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-7 Delta 7. Spacecraft: Mercury. Astronaut Deke Slayton was to have been the second American in orbit. On March 16, 1962, it was announced that Slayton was grounded - due to a minor heart fibrillation known to NASA when they selected him to be an astronaut. Slayton's three orbit flight would have been called Delta 7. Instead Carpenter was selected for the mission, and Schirra, Slayton's backup, was moved to the Mercury 8 flight.

1962 September 18 - .
  • Slayton designated Coordinator of Astronaut Activities - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton. Program: Mercury. Summary: Donald Slayton, one of the seven chosen for the astronaut training program, was designated Coordinator of Astronaut Activities at the Manned Spacecraft Center..

1963 January 11 - .
  • Astronauts to visit with workers at various contractors' plants. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton; Chamberlin. Spacecraft: Gemini. To stimulate contractor employees to better performance, Gemini Project Office Manager James A. Chamberlin suggested that astronauts visit with workers at various contractors' plants. Donald K Slayton, Astronaut Activities Office, informed Chamberlin that such visits would be made, beginning with the Martin Company in February 1963.

1963 January 26 - .
  • New assignments for the seven original astronauts - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Cooper; Grissom; Slayton; Carpenter; Shepard; Schirra; Glenn; Armstrong; Borman; Conrad; Lovell; McDivitt; See; Stafford; White; Young. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Gemini. MSC announced new assignments for the seven original astronauts: L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., and Alan B. Shepard, Jr., would be responsible for the remaining pilot phases of Project Mercury; Virgil I. Grissom would specialize in Project Gemini; John H. Glenn, Jr., would concentrate on Project Apollo; M. Scott Carpenter would cover lunar excursion training; and Walter M. Schirra, Jr., would be responsible for Gemini and Apollo operations and training. As Coordinator for Astronaut Activities, Donald K. Slayton would maintain overall supervision of astronaut duties.

    Specialty areas for the second generation were: trainers and simulators, Neil A. Armstrong; boosters, Frank Borman; cockpit layout and systems integration, Charles Conrad, Jr.; recovery system, James A. Lovell, Jr.; guidance and navigation, James A. McDivitt; electrical, sequential, and mission planning, Elliot M. See, Jr.; communications, instrumentation, and range integration, Thomas P. Stafford; flight control systems, Edward H. White II; and environmental control systems, personal equipment, and survival equipment, John W. Young.

1963 November 5 - .
  • Reorganization of MSC - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget; Kraft; Shea; Slayton. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Gemini. MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth announced a reorganization of MSC to strengthen the management of the Apollo and Gemini programs. Under Gilruth and Deputy Director James C. Elms, there were now four Assistant Directors, Managers for both the Gemini and Apollo programs, and a Manager for MSC's Florida Operations. Assigned to these positions were:

    Maxime A. Faget, Assistant Director for Engineering and Development Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., Assistant Director for Flight Operations Donald K. Slayton, Assistant Director for Flight Crew Operations Wesley L. Hjornevik, Assistant Director for Administration Joseph F. Shea, Manager, Apollo Spacecraft Program Office Charles W. Mathews, Manager, Gemini Program Office and G. Merritt Preston, Manager, MSC Florida Operations.

1964 April 28-30 - .
  • Mockup inspection and review for Block II Apollo CSM - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Johnson, Caldwell; Slayton. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Block I. At Downey, Calif., MSC and North American officials conducted a mockup review on the Block I CSM. Major items reviewed were:

    • Cabin interior (complete except for hatches, display panel lighting, survival equipment, umbilical connections, and zero-g restraints).
    • CM exterior (complete except for hatches and boost protective cover).
    • Earth landing system.
    • Launch escape system.
    • SM.
    One hundred and eleven request for change forms were submitted to the mockup review board, composed of Robert O. Piland (Chairman), Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., Donald K. Slayton, Caldwell C. Johnson, Owen E. Maynard, and Clinton L. Taylor of MSC; and H. G. Osbon and Charles H. Feltz of North American.

    For the first time, three representative Apollo space suits were used in the CM couches. Pressurized suit demonstrations, with three suited astronauts lying side by side in the couches, showed that the prototype suit shoulders and elbows overlapped and prevented effective operation of the CM displays and controls. Previous tests, using only one suited subject, had indicated that suit mobility was adequate. Gemini suits, tested under the same conditions, proved much more usable. Moreover, using Gemini suits for Apollo earth orbital missions promised a substantial financial saving. As a result of further tests conducted in May, the decision was made to use the Gemini suits for these missions. The existing Apollo space suit contract effort was redirected to concentrate on later Apollo flights. A redesign of the Apollo suit shoulders and elbows also was begun.

1964 October 5-8 - .
  • Formal review of the Apollo LEM mockup M-5 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget; Kraft; Slayton. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; LM Ascent Propulsion; LM Descent Propulsion; LM Electrical; LM Landing Gear. NASA conducted a formal review of the LEM mockup M-5 at the Grumman factory. This inspection was intended to affirm that the M-5 configuration reflected all design requirements and to definitize the LEM configuration. Members of the Mockup Review Board were Chairman Owen E. Maynard, Chief, Systems Engineering Division, ASPO; R. W. Carbee, LEM Subsystem Project Engineer, Grumman; Maxime A. Faget, Assistant Director for Engineering and Development, MSC; Thomas J. Kelly, LEM Project Engineer, Grumman; Christopher C. Kraft, Jr. (represented by Sigurd A. Sjoberg), Assistant Director for Flight Operations, MSC; Owen G. Morris, Chief, Reliability and Quality Assurance Division, ASPO; William F. Rector III, LEM Project Officer, ASPO; and Donald K. Slayton, Assistant Director for Flight Crew Operations, MSC.

    The astronauts' review was held on October 5 and 6. It included demonstrations of entering and getting out of the LEM, techniques for climbing and descending the ladder, and crew mobility inside the spacecraft. The general inspection was held on the 7th and the Review Board met on the 8th. Those attending the review used request for change (RFC) forms to propose spacecraft design alterations. Before submission to the Board, these requests were discussed by contractor personnel and NASA coordinators to assess their effect upon system design, interfaces, weight, and reliability.

    The inspection categories were crew provisions; controls, displays, and lighting; the stabilization and control system and the guidance and navigation radar; electrical power; propulsion (ascent, descent, reaction control system, and pyrotechnics ; power generation cryogenic storage and fuel cell assemblies ; environmental control; communications and instrumentation; structures and landing gear; scientific equipment; and reliability and quality' control. A total of 148 RFCs were submitted. Most were aimed at enhancing the spacecraft's operational capability; considerable attention also was given to quality and reliability and to ground checkout of various systems. No major redesigns of the configuration were suggested.

    As a result of this review, the Board recommended that Grumman take immediate action on those RFC's which it had approved. Further, the LEM contractor and MSC should promptly investigate those items which the Board had assigned for further study. On the basis of the revised M-5 configuration, Grumman could proceed with LEM development and qualification. This updated mockup would be the basis for tooling and fabrication of the initial hardware as well.

1964 November 19 - .
  • Displays and keyboards for the Apollo CSM and LEM not compatible - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Block II; CSM Cockpit. MSC's Assistant Director for Flight Crew Operations, Donald K. Slayton, told the Apollo Program Manager that the current display and keyboard (DSKY) for the Block II CSM and for the LEM were not compatible with existing display panel design of both vehicles from the standpoint of lighting, nomenclature presentation, and caution warning philosophy. In his memorandum, Slayton pointed out mandatory operational requirements of the DSKY to ensure compatibility and consistency with the existing spacecraft display panel design.

    With reference to lighting, he said all numerics should be green, nomenclature and status lights white, and caution lights should be aviation yellow. All panel lighting should be dimmable throughout the entire range of brightness, including off.

    In regard to nomenclature, Slayton pointed out that abbreviations on the DSKY should conform to the North American Interface Control Document (ICD). The referenced ICD was being reviewed by Grumman and North American and was scheduled to be signed December 1, 1964.

    Referring to the caution and warning system, he pointed out that all caution lights on the DSKY should be gated into the primary navigation and guidance system (PNGS) caution light on the main instrument panel of both vehicles and into the PNGS caution light on the lower equipment bay panel of the CM.

    Slayton requested that preliminary designs of the DSKY panel be submitted to the Subsystem Managers for Controls and Displays for review and approval.

1965 January 12 - .
  • Apollo Crew Station Branch of Flight Crew Support Division given consolidated responsibilities - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Gemini. Donald K. Slayton, MSC Assistant Director for Flight Crew Operations, pointed out to Managers of the ASPO and the Gemini Program Office that a number of units of spacecraft control and display equipment were needed to support the Spacecraft Control Office in the areas of spacecraft crew procedures development, crew station equipment development, flight crew familiarization, training, and spacecraft mission preparation. Such equipment was needed within MSC, at other NASA Centers, and at contractor facilities to support centrifuge programs, research vehicle programs, launch abort simulations, rendezvous and docking simulations, retrofire and reentry simulations, and other mission phase simulations. Slayton emphasized that uncoordinated requests for hardware procurement to support these programs were excessively costly in terms of equipment.

    Slayton said that a "satisfactory method to reduce costs and increase equipment utilization and effectiveness is to assign responsibility as custodian to one technically cognizant organization which will ascertain the total requirement for equipment and be responsible for coordinating procurement and allocating and transferring hardware assignment required to meet program requirements." He recommended that the Crew Station Branch of Flight Crew Support Division be given the consolidated responsibilities.

1965 January 18 - .
  • Presentation on Apollo mission plans - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Shea; Slayton. Program: Apollo. The MSC Mission Planning and Analysis Division made a presentation to Joseph F. Shea, Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., and Donald K. Slayton on Apollo Missions 201, 202, 204, 206, 207, 501, 503, and 504. It was stated that 204B was to be a repeat of 202; 204C was to be a repeat of 201; and 204D was to be the same as 204A but would be flown unmanned.

1965 May 24 - .
  • Potential hazard in crew procedures inside the Apollo LEM - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; A7L; LM ECS. Donald K. Slayton, Assistant Director for Flight Crew Operations, described a potential hazard involved in crew procedures inside the LEM. Two sets of umbilicals linked the Block II space suit to the environmental control system (ECS) and to the portable life support system (PLSS). Though slight, the possibility existed that when a hose was disconnected, the valve inside the suit might not seat. In that event, gas would escape from the suit. Should this occur while the LEM was depressurized, the astronaut's life would be in jeopardy. Consequently, Slayton cautioned, it would be unwise to disconnect umbilicals while in a vacuum. This in turn imposed several mission constraints:

    • PLSSs could not be recharged while the LEM was unpressurized.
    • If the astronauts were planning to leave the spacecraft, they had to switch to the PLSSs and disconnect the ECS hoses before depressurizing their vehicle.
    • Because the cooling circuit in the PLSS operated only in a vacuum, the crew must depressurize the LEM shortly after switching to their PLSSs.

1966 February 1 - .
  • Debate on use of optics versus radar as a primary Apollo LEM rendezvous aid - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; LM Guidance. MSC Assistant Director for Flight Crew Operations Donald K. Slayton said he did not think that current testing or proposed evaluation would do anything to resolve the basic debate between optics versus radar as a primary LEM rendezvous aid. Slayton said, "The question is not which system can be manufactured, packaged, and qualified as flight hardware at the earliest date; it is which design is most operationally suited to accomplishing the lunar mission. The 'Olympics' contribute nothing to solving this problem." He proposed that an MSC management design review of both systems at the earliest reasonable date was the only way to reach a conclusion, adding, "This requires only existing paperwork and knowledge - no hardware."

1966 March 1 - .
  • Astronauts to fly the Apollo LLRF before the LLTV - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LLRF. Recent discussion between Axel Mattson of LaRC and Donald K. Slayton of MSC concerning the possibility of astronauts' using the Lunar Landing Research Facility (LLRF) at Langley led to agreement that astronauts should fly the LLRF for a week before flying the MSC lunar landing training vehicle. An evaluation of the proposal at MSC resulted in a letter from Director Robert R. Gilruth to LaRC Director Floyd L. Thompson indicating the desirability of using the LLRF and also the desirability of some equipment modifications that would improve the vehicle with a minimum effort. These included such items as LEM flight instruments, hand controllers, panel modifications, and software changes. Also discussed was the training benefit that could be realized if the facility were updated to use a vehicle like the LEM so the pilots could become familiar with problems of a standup restraint system, pressure suit and helmet interface with the cockpit structure and window during landing operations, and sensing and reacting to the dynamic cues of motion while standing up.

1966 April 21 - .
  • MSC announced the establishment of an Apollo Flight Experiment Board - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget; Kraft; Slayton. Program: Apollo. MSC announced the establishment of a Flight Experiment Board. The Board would select and recommend to the Director space flight experiments proposed from within the Center and judged by the Board to be in the best interest of the Center and the NASA space flight program. MSC-originated flight experiments were expected normally to be designated as one of two general classifications: Type I - Medical, Space Science, Flight Operations or Engineering that would yield new knowledge or improve the state of the art; Type II - Operational, which would be required in direct support of major manned flight programs such as Apollo.

    Members appointed to the Board were George M. Low, chairman; Warren Gillespie, Jr., executive secretary; Maxime A. Faget; Robert O. Piland; Charles A. Berry; Christopher C. Kraft, Jr.; Donald K. Slayton; Kenneth S. Kleinknecht; and Joseph N. Kotanchik. The Board would meet bimonthly on the first Friday of every even month, with called meetings at the direction of the chairman when necessary to expedite experiments.

1966 May 6 - .
  • Astronauts voiced concern regarding the purposes and proposed work statement for the S-IVB spent-stage. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton. Spacecraft: Orbital Workshop. MSC Assistant Director for Flight Crew Operations Donald K. Slayton and several astronauts (notably Joseph P. Kerwin) voiced concern regarding the purposes and proposed work statement for the S-IVB spent-stage experiment support module. As well as pointing out the general lack of experiment planning and hardware, Slayton and Kerwin noted a member of operational and safety concerns surrounding purging the stage's hydrogen tank to create a habitable structure in space.

1966 June 6 - .
  • Query on needs for or objections to an Apollo spacecraft TV system - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; CSM Block II; LM Television. In response to a query on needs for or objections to an Apollo spacecraft TV system, MSC Assistant Director for Flight Crew Operations Donald K. Slayton informed the Flight Control Division that FCOD had no operational requirements for a TV capability in either the Block I or the Block II CSM or LM. He added that his Directorate would object to interference caused by checkout, crew training, and inflight time requirements.

1966 August 31 - .
  • Management during thermal vacuum testing of Apollo spacecraft 008 inadequate - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Shea; Slayton. Program: Apollo. MSC Director of Flight Crew Operations Donald K. Slayton informed ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea that total management during thermal vacuum testing of spacecraft 008 was inadequate, resulting in misunderstandings between personnel and organizational groups concerned with the test. Slayton offered a number of suggestions for future, similar tests:

    • Overall planning policies and practices should be reviewed and further defined before commitment of future test crews.
    • Timeline testing philosophy was not realistic or practical in a one- g environment. It was mandatory that test plans be developed with maximum data gain and minimum crew and hardware risks consistent with overall program objectives. For example, long thermal responses during manned tests.
    • A crew systems operations office should be established within the Space Environmental Simulation Laboratory to tie down the interface between crew, hardware, and management. Its scope of operation should include representation, training, and scheduling.
    • The Environmental Medicine Office should define all crew and test medical requirements before crew selection. To help in this area, a flight surgeon should be assigned to each vehicle's prime and backup crews, to ensure adequate knowledge of crew members and test objectives for training and the real-time mission.
    • It must be recognized that test crew participation in thermal vacuum testing was completely voluntary and that each member volunteering must weigh the hazards of such testing against the benefits to the program in general and his welfare in particular.

1966 December 6 - .
  • Apollo LM-to-CSM crew rescue said to be impossible - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Shea; Slayton. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; CSM Hatch; LM Hatch. MSC Director of Flight Crew Operations Donald K. Slayton pointed out to ASPO Manager Joseph F. Shea that LM-to-CSM crew rescue was impossible. Slayton said

    1. there was no way for the portable life support system and crewman to traverse from the LM front hatch to the CSM side hatch in zero-g docked operations, because there was no restraint system or tether attach points in the vicinity of the CSM hatch to permit the crewman to stabilize himself and work to open the hatch; and
    2. there was no way to control the Apollo inner hatch (35-43 kilograms) to ensure that it would not inadvertently damage its seals, the spacecraft wiring, or the pressure bulkhead.
    Additional Details: here....

1966 December 22 - .
  • Third Apollo lunar module simulator cancelled - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; LM Simulator. In a memo to Donald K. Slayton, MSC Deputy Director George M. Low indicated that he understood George E. Mueller had stated in executive session of the Management Council on December 21 that he had decided a third lunar module simulator would not be required. Low said, "This implies that either the launch schedule will be relieved or missions will be so identical that trainer change-over time will be substantially reduced."

1967 January 4 - .
  • Apollo 2TV-1 (thermal vacuum test article) manned test program discussed - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton. Program: Apollo. Director of Flight Crew Operations Directorate (FCOD) Donald K. Slayton discussed the 2TV-1 (thermal vacuum test article) manned test program in a letter to the ASPO Manager. Pointing out that FCOD was providing an astronaut crew for the vacuum test program in support of the AS-258 mission, Slayton said the FCOD objective was to test and evaluate crew equipment, stowage, and system operations procedures planned for Block II flights. Slayton acknowledged that this objective was not identical with ASPO's requirement for thermal and vacuum verification of integrated system design, but felt that it was of equal importance and should be given equal priority in planning the test. To achieve the FCOD objective, he requested that specific conditions be met in spacecraft configuration, test planning, and test conduct.

1967 April 6 - .
  • Donald K. Slayton, MSC Director of Flight Crew Operations, requested that the proposed T-020 "Jet Shoes" experiment be removed from all AAP flights. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton. Program: Skylab. Spacecraft: Orbital Workshop. The 'Jet Shoes' experiment was an astronaut maneuvering system consisting of two small thrusters mounted one beneath each foot and oriented so that the thrust vectors passed close to the center of body mass with legs and feet in a comfortable position. During January, an engineering development model of the 'Jet Shoes' was tested by several astronauts on the MSC air bearing facility in cooperation with the Principal Investigator. Although the tests by the astronauts were shirt-sleeve runs, an LaRC test pilot made several runs in an inflated pressure suit. The results were unsatisfactory. In his objections to the experiment, Slayton suggested that its attempted use by an astronaut wearing a life support unit would provide extremely poor visibility.

1967 November 7 - .
  • Apollo LLTV delayed - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LLRV. MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth, wrote Warren B. Hayes, President of Fansteel Metallurgical Corp., that planned schedules for the lunar landing training vehicle (LLTV) could not be maintained because of the need for refabrication of the hydrogen peroxide tanks. The tanks had been manufactured by Airtek Division of Fansteel under contract to Bell Aerosystems Co. Airtek's estimates were that the first of the new tanks would not be available until January 1 968, two months later than required to meet the LLTV program schedule. Gilruth said: "The LLTV is a major and very necessary part of the crew training program for the lunar landing maneuver. It is my hope that Airtek will take every action to assure that the manufacturing cycle time for these tanks is held to an absolute minimum." In preparing background information for Gilruth, Flight Crew Operations Director Donald K. Slayton had pointed out that the first set of tanks (total of eight) had been scrapped because of below-minimum wall thickness. Qualification testing of a tank from the second set revealed out-of-tolerance mismatch of welded tank fittings, and this set was also scrapped.

1967 December 7 - .
  • Astronaut Conrad concerned about an attitude control problem in the Apollo LM - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton; Conrad. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; LM Weight. Astronaut Charles (Pete) Conrad's concern about an anticipated attitude control problem in the LM was reported. Conrad had said, "The LM is too sporty when in a light weight configuration." Minimum impulse was expected to produce about 0.3 degree per second rate, which was estimated to be about four times too fast. A memo on the problem possibility was written by Howard W. Tindall, Jr., Deputy Chief of MSC's Mission Planning and Analysis Division, to stimulate thinking. On December 9, ASPO Manager George M. Low asked Donald K. Slayton and Warren J. North if there was any chance of setting up a simulation to see whether this was a real concern.

1968 February 5 - .
  • 40 per-cent nitrogen prelaunch atmosphere in Apollo - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget; Slayton. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Communications. A Senior Flammability Review Board meeting at MSC reached a number of decisions on the CSM. Attending were Robert R. Gilruth, chairman; George M. Low, Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, Aleck C. Bond, Maxime A. Faget, Donald K. Slayton, Charles A. Berry, and Rodney G. Rose, all of MSC; Samuel C. Phillips, NASA Hq.; William B. Bergen and Dale D. Myers, North American Rockwell; and George Stoner, Boeing (nonvoting observer).

    Several previous action assignments were reviewed:

    1. Component level Flammability Test Program - North American reviewed the results of its material identification and test program, the component test program, and the boilerplate 1,250 tests. These tests had provided the basis for design decisions on selection and application of CM nonmetallic materials.
    2. Boilerplate 1224 configuration comparison to CSMs 2TV-1 and 101 - North American presented the comparison and the Board decided that the boilerplate configuration was representative of the "worst case" configuration, considering both 2TV-l and 101.
    3. Internal ignition rationale - ignition rationale for the boilerplate 1224 tests was presented to the Board. Nichrome wire ignitors were used with the ignitor wire embedded in potting. In some locations a Ladicote cover was applied over the potting and ignitor. The Board pointed out that the ignition techniques were not really representative of actual operating conditions and were indeed overly severe.
    4. Crew communications umbilical - North American was evaluating a fluorel crew communications umbilical as well as fluorel oxygen umbilicals. A Beta sleeve over the oxygen and crew communications umbilicals would also be evaluated for its operational acceptability by the Crew.
    The Board presented a review of test results. In the tests at pressure of 4.3 newtons per square centimeter (6.2 pounds per square inch) in a 95-percent oxygen atmosphere, there were 38 ignitions in boilerplate 1224. Of these,5 produced fires large enough to require further consideration. In tests at 11.2 newtons per sq cm (16.2 psia) in a 60-percent-oxygen and 40-percent nitrogen atmosphere, there were 31 ignitions. Of these, 4 produced fires large enough to require further consideration.

    The Board concluded that the material changes made in the CM had resulted in a safe configuration in both the tested atmospheres. The Board agreed "that there will always be a degree of risk associated with manned space flight," but the risk of fire "was now substantially less than the basic risks inherent in manned space flight."

    Among decisions reached were:

    1. the CSM 2TV-1 and 101 coaxial cable configuration would be tested in the 60-percent-oxygen and 40-percent nitrogen atmosphere;
    2. material improvements and testing would be continued and changes would be phased in, pending the availability of proved materials; and
    3. action would be taken to be prepared to use a 60-percent-oxygen and 40-percent-nitrogen prelaunch atmosphere in CSM 101.
    A final decision would be made at the Design Certification Review on March 7.

1968 February 28 - .
  • Priorities for first Apollo landing mission established - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton. Program: Apollo. MSC Director of Flight Crew Operations Donald K. Slayton wrote Wilmot N. Hess, Director of Science and Applications, regarding priorities between scientific objectives and mission operations in Apollo mission planning, specifically for activities on the lunar surface. Slayton acknowledged that scientific priorities had to be included within an overall mission plan. However, those priorities must inevitably be adjusted by operational factors such as difficulty and duration of activities to maximize success of the mission. Flight planning for surface operations on the first Apollo landing mission, Slayton said, had followed guidelines laid down by ASPO Manager George M. Low on September 18, 1967 (reflecting an MSC Directors' consensus as voiced at a September 15 briefing on lunar surface activities):

    • The first extravehicular activity excursion was to consist of a number of simple, mutually independent activities.
    • A small lunar sample would be collected on the first excursion.
    • The Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments package (ALSEP) would not be deployed on the first excursion.
    • For planning purposes, a second excursion was also included, with ALSEP deployment as the primary scientific objective.
    Deployment of the ALSEP during the first EVA operation, he continued, appeared precluded by safety considerations (no objective ranked higher than the astronauts initial familiarization with 1/6 gravity). Should 1/6 gravity operations turn out to be simpler and less time-consuming than anticipated, ALSEP unloading might be possible; but Slayton stated that EVA experience during the Gemini program dictated a much more conservative plan.

1968 September 6 - .
  • Proposed revisions of the first Apollo lunar landing mission plan - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; LM ECS; LM Television. In response to a letter from Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips concerning proposed revisions of the first lunar landing mission plan, MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth presented MSC's position on the three major topics:

    1. deletion of the lunar geology investigation (LGI) and the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP),
    2. television coverage, and
    3. extravehicular excursion.
    Additional Details: here....

1968 November 7 - .
  • Informal crew log for each Apollo spacecraft - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton. Program: Apollo. The Configuration Control Board had decided in favor of an informal crew log for each Apollo spacecraft, ASPO Manager George M. Low informed MSC Director of Flight Crew Operations Donald K. Slayton. The log would be an unofficial document kept by consulting pilots at the spacecraft contractor plants during checkout and test of the vehicles and by the flight crew support team at KSC. Although not intended to replace other, more formal procedures for recording hardware discrepancies, the log would contain such items as switching anomalies, meter bias, and what Low termed "bona fide 'ghosts'" which had no reasonable engineering explanation, as well as audible and visual "idiosyncrasies" in spacecraft operation.

1971 January - .
  • LLTV destroyed in crash at Houston. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton. Spacecraft: Apollo LLRV. Donald 'Deke' Slayton, then NASA's astronaut chief, said there was no other way to simulate a moon landing except by flying the LLTV. LLRV No. 2, the sole survivor, was eventually returned to Dryden, where it is on display as a silent artifact of the Center's contribution to the Apollo program.

1975 July 15 - . 19:50 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39B. LV Family: Saturn I. Launch Vehicle: Saturn IB. LV Configuration: Saturn IB SA-210.
  • Apollo (ASTP) - . Call Sign: Apollo. Crew: Brand; Slayton; Stafford. Backup Crew: Bean; Evans; Lousma. Payload: Apollo CSM 111. Mass: 14,768 kg (32,557 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Brand; Slayton; Stafford; Bean; Evans; Lousma. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: ASTP. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar spacecraft. Flight: Soyuz 19 (ASTP); Apollo (ASTP). Spacecraft: Apollo CSM. Duration: 9.06 days. Decay Date: 1975-07-24 . USAF Sat Cat: 8032 . COSPAR: 1975-066A. Apogee: 166 km (103 mi). Perigee: 152 km (94 mi). Inclination: 51.7000 deg. Period: 87.60 min. This flight marked the culmination of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, a post-moon race 'goodwill' flight to test a common docking system for space rescue. 15 July 1975 began with the flawless launch of Soyuz 19. Apollo followed right on schedule. Despite a stowaway - a 'super Florida mosquito' - the crew accomplished a series of rendezvous manoeuvres over the next day resulting in rendezvous with Soyuz 19. At 11:10 on 17 July the two spacecraft docked. The crew members rotated between the two spacecraft and conducted various mainly ceremonial activities. Stafford spent 7 hours, 10 minutes aboard Soyuz, Brand 6:30, and Slayton 1:35. Leonov was on the American side for 5 hours, 43 minutes, while Kubasov spent 4:57 in the command and docking modules.

    After being docked for nearly 44 hours, Apollo and Soyuz parted for the first time and were station-keeping at a range of 50 meters. The Apollo crew placed its craft between Soyuz and the sun so that the diameter of the service module formed a disk which blocked out the sun. This artificial solar eclipse, as viewed from Soyuz, permitted photography of the solar corona. After this experiment Apollo moved towards Soyuz for the second docking.

    Three hours later Apollo and Soyuz undocked for the second and final time. The spacecraft moved to a 40 m station-keeping distance so that the ultraviolet absorption (UVA MA-059) experiment could be performed. This was an effort to more precisely determine the quantities of atomic oxygen and atomic nitrogen existing at such altitudes. Apollo, flying out of plane around Soyuz, projected monochromatic laser-like beams of light to retro-reflectors mounted on Soyuz. On the 150-meter phase of the experiment, light from a Soyuz port led to a misalignment of the spectrometer, but on the 500-meter pass excellent data were received; on the 1,000-meter pass satisfactory results were also obtained.

    With all the joint flight activities completed, the ships went on their separate ways. On 20 July the Apollo crew conducted earth observation, experiments in the multipurpose furnace (MA-010), extreme ultraviolet surveying (MA-083), crystal growth (MA-085), and helium glow (MA-088). On 21 July Soyuz 19 landed safely in Kazakhstan. Apollo continued in orbit on 22-23 July to conduct 23 independent experiments - including a doppler tracking experiment (MA-089) and geodynamics experiment (MA-128) designed to verify which of two techniques would be best suited for studying plate tectonics from earth orbit.

    After donning their space suits, the crew vented the command module tunnel and jettisoned the docking module. The docking module would continue on its way until it re-entered the earth's atmosphere and burned up in August 1975.

1975 July 24 - .
  • Landing of Apollo (ASTP) - . Return Crew: Brand; Slayton; Stafford. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Brand; Slayton; Stafford. Program: ASTP. Flight: Apollo (ASTP). Apollo (ASTP) landed at 21:18 GMT, 7.3 km from the recovery ship New Orleans. It was the last splashdown of an American space capsule. However the flight of the last Apollo spacecraft was marred by the fact that the crew almost perished while the capsule was descending under its parachute.

    A failure in switchology led the automatic landing sequence to be not armed at the same time the reaction control system was still active. When the Apollo hadn't begun the parachute deployment sequence by 7,000 metres altitude, Brand hit the manual switches for the apex cover and the drogues. The manual deployment of the drogue chutes caused the CM to sway, and the reaction control system thrusters worked vigorously to counteract that motion. When the crew finally armed the automatic ELS 30 seconds later, the thruster action terminated.

    During that 30 seconds, the cabin was flooded with a mixture of toxic unignited propellants from the thrusters. Prior to drogue deployment, the cabin pressure relief valve had opened automatically, and in addition to drawing in fresh air it also brought in unwanted gases being expelled from the roll thrusters located about 0.6 meter from the relief valve. Brand manually deployed the main parachutes at about 2,700 meters despite the gas fumes in the cabin.

    By the time of splashdown, the crew was nearly unconscious from the fumes, Stafford managed to get an oxygen mask over Brand's face. He then began to come around. When the command module was upright in the water, Stafford opened the vent valve, and with the in-rush of air the remaining fumes disappeared. The crew ended up with a two-week hospital stay in Honolulu. For Slayton, it also meant the discovery of a small lesion on his left lung and an exploratory operation that indicated it was a non-malignant tumour. Additional Details: here....

1993 June 13 - .
  • Death of Donald Kent 'Deke' Slayton at League City, Texas. Natural causes - Complications from a brain tumour. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Slayton. Summary: American test pilot astronaut. Slated to fly third Mercury mission, grounded due to a medical issue and became astronaut commander, assigning crews for lunar landings. Later finally flew on Apollo (ASTP)..

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