Status: Deceased; Active 1963-1972. Born: 1930-06-23. Died: 1987-12-01. Spaceflights: 1 . Total time in space: 10.84 days. Birth Place: Columbus, Ohio.
Educated Annapolis; AFIT.
Official NASA Biography as of June 2016:Donn F. Eisele (Colonel, USAF, Ret.)
NASA Astronaut (Deceased)
PERSONAL DATA: Born in Columbus, Ohio, on June 23, 1930. Died on December 2, 1987 of a heart attack while on a business trip to Tokyo, Japan. He is survived by his wife Susan and their two children. Colonel Eisele had four children from a previous marriage.
EDUCATION: Graduated from West High School, Columbus, Ohio; received a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1952 and a Master of Science degree in Astronautics in 1960 from the Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
ORGANIZATIONS: Member of Tau Beta Pi, National Engineering Society.
SPECIAL HONORS: Received the NASA exceptional Service Metal, Air Force Senior Pilot Astronaut Wings, Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross; co-recipient of the AIAA 1969 Haley Astronautics Award; presented National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Special Trustees Award in 1969.
EXPERIENCE: Eisele graduated from the United States Naval Academy and chose a career in the Air Force. He is also a graduate of the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
He was a project engineer and experimental test pilot at the Air Force Special Weapons Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. In this capacity, he flew experimental test flights in support of special weapons development programs.
He logged more than 4,200 hours flying time—3,600 hours in jet aircraft.
NASA EXPERIENCE: Eisele was one of the third group of astronauts selected by NASA in October 1963.
On October 11, 1968, he occupied the command module pilot seat for the eleven-day flight of Apollo VII—the first manned flight test of the third generation United States spacecraft. With spacecraft commander Walter M. Schirra, Jr., and lunar module pilot Walter Cunningham, Eisele participated in and executed maneuvers enabling the crew to perform exercises in transposition and docking and lunar orbit rendezvous with the S-IVB stage of their Saturn IB launch vehicle; completed eight successful test and maneuvering ignitions of the service module propulsion engine; measured the accuracy of performance of all spacecraft systems; and provided the first effective television transmissions of onboard crew activities.
Apollo VII was placed in an earth-orbit with an apogee of 153.5 nautical miles and perigee of 122.6 nautical miles; and the 260-hour, four-and-a-half million mile shakedown flight was successfully concluded on October 22, 1968, with splashdown occurring in the Atlantic, some eight miles from the carrier ESSEX (only three-tenths of a mile from the originally predicted aiming point).
He served as backup command module pilot for the Apollo X flight.
Colonel Eisele logged 260 hours in space.
In July 1972, Colonel Eisele retired from the Air Force and left the space program to become Director of the U.S. Peace Corps in Thailand. Upon Returning from Thailand, Eisele became Sales Manager for Marion Power Shovel Company, a division of Dresser Industries. Eisele handled private and corporate accounts for the investment firm of Oppenheimer & Company.
NAME: Donn F. Eisele
BIRTHPLACE AND DATE: Eisele was born June 23, 1930, in Columbus, Ohio.
EDUCATION: Eisele received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautics from the U.S. Naval Academy and a Master of Science degree in aeronautics from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology.
EXPERIENCE: After graduation Eisele entered the Air Force. He flew jet fighters and became a test pilot, advancing to the rank of colonel.
NASA selected Eisele as an astronaut in October 1963. On October 11, 1968, he, Commander Walter Schirra and Lunar Module pilot Walt Cunningham were launched aboard Apollo 7 - the first flight test of the redesigned Apollo after the first crew died in the Apollo 1 launch pad fire on January 27, 1967. The flight was a complete success and provided NASA with confidence to send the next Apollo crew, into orbit around the moon. However the crew suffered head colds and had numerous arguments with ground controllers. NASA management secretly decided that none of them would be allowed to fly in space again.
In 1972, Eisele retired from the Air Force and left NASA to become director of the U.S. Peace Corps in Thailand. He later became sales manager for Marion Power Shovel Company and then handled private and corporate accounts for the investment firm of Oppenheimer and Company. Eisele died of a heart attack on December 2, 1987, in Tokyo, Japan.
Astronaut Don Eisele photographed during Apollo 7 mission
Astronauts Schirra and Eisele seen in first live television transmission
Prime crew photographed during Apollo 7 mission
NASA announced that it would select 10 to 15 new astronauts to begin training in October. Civilian applications were due July 1; those from military personnel, prescreened by their services, were due July 15. New selection criteria reduced the maximum age to 35 years and eliminated the requirement for test pilot certifications.
The group was selected to provide crew members for planned Apollo missions (then planned as 4 Saturn I missions in 1965, 2-4 Saturn IB missions in 1966, 6 Saturn V missions from 1967).. Qualifications: Qualified jet pilot with minimum 1,000 flight-hours, bachleor's degree in engineering or physical or biological sciences, under 35 years old, under 183 cm height, excellent health. US citizen.. There were 271 applications, 200 from civilians (including two women) and 71 from military pilots (including two African-Americans). President Kennedy pushed for NASA to appoint a black astronaut, but neither of the applicants met the test pilot requirements. Bobby Kennedy arranged for one of these, USAF Captain Edward Dwight, to be enrolled in the USAF Test Pilot school. He graduated, and then had the necessary qualifications. He was 28 years old, an engineering school graduate, and a B-57 bomber command pilot with 2,000 hours flying time. However NASA did not find him as well qualified as other candidates, and he was not among the 32 chosen for final physical and mental tests.
From these 32, the final 14 were selected. Of them, four would die (two in a T-38 crash, one in a car crash, and one in the Apollo 204 ground fire) before flying in space. All of the ten remaining would fly in the Apollo program.
NASA announced the selection of 14 astronauts for Projects Gemini and Apollo, bringing to 30 the total number of American spacemen. They were Maj. Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., Capt. William A. Anders, Capt. Charles A. Bassett II, Capt. Michael Collins, Capt. Donn F. Eisele, Capt. Theodore C. Freeman, and Capt. David R. Scott of the Air Force; Lt. Cdr. Richard F. Gordon, Jr., Lt. Alan L. Bean, Lt. Eugene A. Cernan, and Lt. Roger B. Chaffee of the Navy; Capt. Clifton C. Williams, Jr., of the Marine Corps; R. Walter Cunningham, research scientist for the Rand Corporation; and Russell L. Schweickart, research scientist for MIT.
MSC announced a realignment of specialty areas for the 13 astronauts not assigned to forthcoming Gemini missions (GT 3 through 5) or to strictly administrative positions:
Charles A. Bassett - operations handbooks, training, and simulators
Alan L. Bean - recovery systems
Michael Collins - pressure suits and extravehicular activity
David R. Scott - mission planning and guidance and navigation
Clifton C. Williams - range operations, deep space instrumentation, and crew safety.
Donn F. Eisele - CSM and LEM
William A. Anders - environmental control system and radiation and thermal systems
Eugene A. Cernan - boosters, spacecraft propulsion, and the Agena stage
Roger B. Chaffee - communications, flight controls, and docking
R. Walter Cunningham - electrical and sequential systems and non-flight experiments
Russell L. Schweickart - in-flight experiments and future programs.
At Wright-Patterson AFB, North American engineers conducted zero-g tests of crew transfer using mockup 27 A. The two subjects, astronauts Donn F. Eisele and Richard F. Gordon, had difficulty manipulating the forward hatches and the drogue assembly. North American reported that handles might be required on those pieces of hardware.
Using improved restraint hardware, Grumman resumed tests simulating the shock of landing on the moon. Investigators reported better lateral stability - and they no longer bounced off the floor. Astronaut Donn F. Eisele, who took part, judged the system superior to those used in earlier trials.
Using a LEM mockup at Grumman, and with the assistance of astronauts Roger B. Chaffee and Donn F. Eisele, engineers from Hamilton Standard performed mobility tests of the reconfigured portable life support system (PLSS). Crew Systems Division (CSD) reported that the reshaped back pack did not hinder entering or leaving the spacecraft; and while some interference problems were inescapable when the PLSSs were worn inside the spacecraft for any period of time, CSD believed that damage could be prevented through training and by limiting movement by the crew. Grumman, however, contended that the newer PLSSs had "serious implications" for mobility inside the LEM.
The second planned manned Apollo flight crew was named by NASA. Prime crew members were Walter M. Schirra, Jr., command pilot; Donn F. Eisele, senior pilot; and R. Walter Cunningham, pilot. Backup crewmen were Frank Borman, command pilot; Thomas P. Stafford, senior pilot; and Michael Collins, pilot. The flight was scheduled for 1967. It would be the first space mission for Eisele and Cunningham.
The second manned Apollo mission was planned as an open-ended earth orbital mission up to 14 days. Increased emphasis on scientific experiments as well as repeating some activities from the first planned manned flight would characterize the mission. (The first planned manned Apollo mission was ended by a tragic accident during a test January 27, 1967.)
The first manned flight of the Apollo CSM, the Apollo C category mission, was planned for the last quarter of 1966. Numerous problems with the Apollo Block I spacecraft resulted in a flight delay to February 1967. The crew of Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee, was killed in a fire while testing their capsule on the pad on 27 January 1967, still weeks away from launch. The designation AS-204 was used by NASA for the flight at the time; the designation Apollo 1 was applied retroactively at the request of Grissom's widow.
It was originally planned to make a second solo flight test of the Block I Apollo CSM on a Saturn IB. The flight was finally seen as unnecessary; the decision to cancel it came on November 16, 1966. After the Apollo 1 fire on January 27, 1967, the Schirra crew was assigned to Apollo 7, the first manned flight test of the new Block II Apollo CSM-101.
Apollo 7 (AS-205), the first manned Apollo flight, lifted off from Launch Complex 34 at Cape Kennedy Oct. 11, carrying Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Donn F. Eisele, and R. Walter Cunningham. The countdown had proceeded smoothly, with only a slight delay because of additional time required to chill the hydrogen system in the S-IVB stage of the Saturn launch vehicle. Liftoff came at 11:03 a.m. EDT. Shortly after insertion into orbit, the S-IVB stage separated from the CSM, and Schirra and his crew performed a simulated docking with the S-IVB stage, maneuvering to within 1.2 meters of the rocket. Although spacecraft separation was normal, the crew reported that one adapter panel had not fully deployed. Two burns using the reaction control system separated the spacecraft and launch stage and set the stage for an orbital rendezvous maneuver, which the crew made on the second day of the flight, using the service propulsion engine.
Crew and spacecraft performed well throughout the mission. During eight burns of the service propulsion system during the flight, the engine functioned normally. October 14, third day of the mission, witnessed the first live television broadcast from a manned American spacecraft.
The SPS engine was used to deorbit after 259 hours 39 minutes of flight. CM-SM separation and operation of the earth landing system were normal, and the spacecraft splashed down about 13 kilometers from the recovery ship (27.32 N 64.04 W), the U.S.S. Essex at 11:11 GMT. Although the vehicle initially settled in an apex-down ("stable 2") attitude, upright bags functioned normally and returned the CSM to an upright position in the water. Schirra, Eisele, and Cunningham were quickly picked up by a recovery helicopter and were safe aboard the recovery vessel less than an hour after splashdown.
All primary Apollo 7 mission objectives were met, as well as every detailed test objective (and three test objectives not originally planned). Engineering firsts from Apollo 7, aside from live television from space, included drinking water for the crew produced as a by-product of the fuel cells. Piloting and navigation accomplishments included an optical rendezvous, daylight platform realignment, and orbital determination via sextant tracking of another vehicle. All spacecraft systems performed satisfactorily. Minor anomalies were countered by backup systems or changes in procedures. With successful completion of the Apollo 7 mission, which proved out the design of the Block II CSM (CSM 101), NASA and the nation had taken the first step on the pathway to the moon.
Although the systems worked, the crew became grumpy with head colds and talked back to the ground. As a result, NASA management determined that none of them would fly again. Apollo 7 landed at 07:12 GMT.
Final dress rehearsal in lunar orbit for landing on moon. LM separated and descended to 10 km from surface of moon but did not land. Apollo 10 (AS-505) - with crew members Thomas P. Stafford, Eugene A. Cernan, and John W. Young aboard - lifted off from Pad B, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 12:49 p.m. EDT on the first lunar orbital mission with complete spacecraft. The Saturn V's S-IVB stage and the spacecraft were inserted into an earth parking orbit of 189.9 by 184.4 kilometers while the onboard systems were checked. The S-IVB engine was then ignited at 3:19 p.m. EDT to place the spacecraft in a trajectory toward the moon. One-half hour later the CSM separated from the S-IVB, transposed, and docked with the lunar module. At 4:29 p.m. the docked spacecraft were ejected, a separation maneuver was performed, and the S-IVB was placed in a solar orbit by venting residual propellants. TV coverage of docking procedures was transmitted to the Goldstone, Calif., tracking station for worldwide, commercial viewing.
On May 19 the crew elected not to make the first of a series of midcourse maneuvers. A second preplanned midcourse correction that adjusted the trajectory to coincide with a July lunar landing trajectory was executed at 3:19 p.m. The maneuver was so accurate that preplanned third and fourth midcourse corrections were canceled. During the translunar coast, five color TV transmissions totaling 72 minutes were made of the spacecraft and the earth.
At 4:49 p.m. EDT on May 21 the spacecraft was inserted into a lunar orbit of 110.4 by 315.5 kilometers. After two revolutions of tracking and ground updates, a maneuver circularized the orbit at 109.1 by 113.9 kilometers. Astronaut Cernan then entered the LM, checked all systems, and returned to the CM for the scheduled sleep period.
On May 22 activation of the lunar module systems began at 11:49 a.m. EDT. At 2:04 p.m. the spacecraft were undocked and at 4:34 p.m. the LM was inserted into a descent orbit. One hour later the LM made a low-level pass at an altitude of 15.4 kilometers over the planned site for the first lunar landing. The test included a test of the landing radar, visual observation of lunar lighting, stereo photography of the moon, and execution of a phasing maneuver using the descent engine. The lunar module returned to dock successfully with the CSM following the eight-hour separation, and the LM crew returned to the CSM.
The LM ascent stage was jettisoned, its batteries were burned to depletion, and it was placed in a solar orbit on May 23. The crew then prepared for the return trip to earth and after 61.5 hours in lunar orbit a service propulsion system TEI burn injected the CSM into a trajectory toward the earth. During the return trip the astronauts made star-lunar landmark sightings, star-earth horizon navigation sightings, and live television transmissions.