Status: Inactive; Active 1962-1975. Born: 1930-09-17. Spaceflights: 4 . Total time in space: 21.15 days. Birth Place: Weatherford, Oklahoma.
Official NASA Biography as of June 2016:THOMAS P. STAFFORD, LIEUTENANT GENERAL, USAF (RET.)
NASA ASTRONAUT (FORMER)
PERSONAL DATA: Born September 17, 1930, in Weatherford, Oklahoma. Married to the former Linda Ann Dishman of Chelsea, Oklahoma. They have two adopted sons, Michael Thomas and Stanislav "Stas" Patten. First marriage was to the former Faye L. Shoemaker. They have two daughters, Dionne Kay and Karin Elaine as well as two grandsons, Thomas P. Stafford II and Andrew Alexi Harrison. Linda has two children from a previous marriage, Kassie Neering and Mark Hill, and four grandchildren: Sloane, Lee, Marcus and Tara. He enjoys bird hunting, scuba diving, fishing and deep sea fishing and swimming.
EDUCATION: Graduated from Weatherford High School, Weatherford, Oklahoma; received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the United States Naval Academy in 1952. In addition, General Stafford is the recipient of several honorary degrees. These include a doctorate of laws from Oklahoma State University, the University of Cordoba, Argentina, a doctorate of humane letters, University of Oklahoma; a doctorate of science from Oklahoma City University; a doctorate of laws, Western State University, Los Angeles California; doctorate of communications, Emerson College, Boston, Massachusetts; a doctorate of aeronautical engineering, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida, and a doctorate of humanities, Oklahoma Christian College, Edmond, Oklahoma, and a masters of humane letters, Southwestern University, Weatherford, Oklahoma.
ORGANIZATION: Fellow of the American Astronautical Society, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, and a member of the Masonic Lodge.
SPECIAL HONORS: NASA Distinguished Service Medals (4), NASA Exceptional Service Medals (2), Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Command Pilot Astronaut Wings. Other awards include Congressional Space Medal of Honor, Wright Brother Memorial Trophy, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Chanute Flight Award, the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Space Award, National Geographic Society's General Thomas D. White USAF Space Trophy, Federation Aeronautique Internationale Gold Space Medal. In 1966, he was co-recipient of the IAAA Award. He was honored with the Harmon International Aviation Trophy in 1966 and 1976. In 1969 he received the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Special Trustees Award and in 1978 the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Kitty Hawk Sands of Time Award; received the Society of Experimental Test Pilots James H. Doolittle Award for Management, September 1979, October 1979, received the NASA Medal for outstanding leadership, one of the Agency's highest awards. He was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame and received the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (RNASA). He served as the Chairman of the Operations Oversight Committee of the first Hubble Telescope Spacecraft Servicing and Repair Mission that corrected the design and manufacturing defect of the instrument. In 1994, NASA recognized his tremendous efforts and presented him with the NASA Public Service Award for the Hubble Telescope Service and Repair Mission. General Stafford was inducted into the Oklahoma Commerce and Industry Hall of Honor in October 1994, and to the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the Aerospace Walk of Honor in 1997. Designated as a distinguished graduate of the United States Naval Academy, United States Air Force Lifetime Achievement Award, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
EXPERIENCE: General Stafford graduated with honors in 1952 from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He received his pilot wings at Connally AFB, Waco, Texas, in September 1953. He completed advanced interceptor training and was assigned to the 54th Flight Interceptor Squadron, Ellsworth AFB, Rapid City, South Dakota. In December 1955 he was assigned to the 496th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Hahn Air Base, Germany, where he performed the duties of pilot, flight leader, and flight test maintenance office, flying F-86Ds. He attended the USAF Experimental Test Pilot School and received The A.B. Honts Award as the Outstanding Graduate. He was an instructor in flight test training and specialized academic subjects-establishing basic textbooks and directing the writing of flight test manuals for use by the staff and students. He is co-author of the Pilot's Handbook for Performance Flight Testing and the Aerodynamics Handbook for Performance Flight Testing.
General Stafford was selected among the second group of astronauts in September 1962 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to participate in Projects Gemini and Apollo. In December 1965, he piloted Gemini VI the first rendezvous in space, and helped develop techniques to prove the basic theory and practicality of space rendezvous. In June 1966 he commanded Gemini IX and performed a demonstration of an early rendezvous that would be used in the Apollo lunar missions, the first optical rendezvous, and a lunar orbit abort rendezvous. From August 1966 to October 1968 he headed the mission planning analysis and software development responsibilities for the astronaut group for Project Apollo General Stafford was the lead member of the group, which helped formulate the sequence of missions leading to the first lunar landing mission. As Astronaut Project Manager, he demonstrated and implemented the theory of a pilot manually flying the Saturn V booster into orbit and the translunar injection maneuver.
General Stafford was commander of Apollo 10 in May 1969, first flight of the lunar module to the moon, he descended to nine miles above the moon performing the entire lunar landing mission except the actual landing. He performed the first rendezvous around the Moon, and designated the first lunar landing site.
He also made reconnaissance and tracking on future Apollo landing sites. General Stafford was cited in the Guinness Book of World Records for highest speed ever attained by man that occurred during Apollo 10 reentry when the spacecraft attained 24,791 statute miles per hour.
He was assigned as head of the astronaut group in June 1969, responsible for the selection of flight crews for projects Apollo and Skylab. He reviewed and monitored flight crew training status reports, and was responsible for coordination, scheduling, and control of all activities involving NASA astronauts.
In June 1971, General Stafford was assigned as Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations at the NASA Manned Space flight Center. He was responsible for assisting the director in planning and implementation of programs for the astronaut group, the Aircraft Operations, Flight Crew Integration, Flight Crew Procedures, and Crew Simulation and Training Divisions.
He logged his fourth space flight as Apollo commander of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) mission, July 15-24, 1975, a joint space flight culminating in the historic first meeting in space between American Astronauts and Soviet Cosmonauts, which ended the International space race.
General Stafford was the first member of his Naval Academy Class of 1952 to pin on the first, second and third stars of a General Officer. He has flown six rendezvous in space; logged 507 hours and 43 minutes in space flight and wore the Air Force command Pilot Astronaut Wings. He has flown over 127 different types of aircraft and helicopters and four different types of spacecraft.
General Stafford assumed command of the Air Force Flight Test Center November 4, 1975. He was promoted to the grade of Major General August 9, 1975, with date of rank of June 1, 1973.
Gen. Stafford was promoted Lt. Gen. on March 15, 1978 and on May 1, 1978 assumed the duties as the Deputy Chief of Staff, Research, Development and Acquisition, HQ USAF, Wash., DC. During this time Gen. Stafford personally initiated the F-117A Stealth Fighter. In early 1979, he wrote the initial desired specifications on and started the advanced technology bomber ATB development, now designated the B-2 "Stealth Bomber". He initiated the AGM-129 Stealth Cruise Missile. General Stafford retired from the Air Force in November 1979.
In June of 1990, Vice President Quayle and Admiral Richard Truly, then NASA Administrator, asked General Stafford to Chair a team to independently advise NASA how to carry out President Bush's vision of returning to the Moon, this time to stay, and then go on to explore Mars. General Stafford assembled teams of 40 full-time and 150 part-time members from the DOD, DOE and NASA, and completed the study called "America at the Threshold", a road map for the next 30 years of the U.S. Manned Space Flight Program. General Stafford and Vice President Quayle held a joint Press Conference at the White House in June 1991 to announce the recommendations to the public. The Clinton Administration directed a review of all federally-funded research and development plans of the Executive Branch in 1994. Gen. Stafford chaired the committee to review and make recommendations to enhance the efficiency of the R&D initiatives of the NASA Human Exploration Enterprise that included JSC, KSC, MSFC and SSFC.
He co-founded the Technical Consulting Firm of Stafford, Burke, and Hecker, Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia. He has served on numerous Boards of Directors of corporations listed on the New York Stock Exchange, one listed on the American Exchange, and two others. He has served as an advisor to a number of governmental agencies including NASA and the Air Force Systems Command. He was a defense advisor to Governor Ronald Reagan during the presidential campaign and a member of the Reagan Presidential transition team. He served on the National Research Council's Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board; the Committee on NASA Scientific and Technological Program Reviews and Vice President Quayle's Space Policy Advisory Council. He was Chairman of the NASA Advisory Council Task Force on Shuttle-Mir Rendezvous and Docking Missions and Co-Chairman of the Stafford-Covey Space Shuttle Return to Flight Task Group after the Shuttle Columbia accident. He is currently Chairman of the NASA Advisory Council Task Force for ISS Safety and Operational Readiness.
This is the only version available from NASA. Updates must be sought direct from the above named individual.
NAME: Thomas P. StaffordBIRTHPLACE AND DATE: Stafford was born in Weatherford, Oklahoma, Sept. 17, 1930.
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1952, graduating with honours.
EXPERIENCE: Following graduation from the Naval Academy, Stafford was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. He completed advanced interceptor training and served tours of duty at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, and at Hahn Air Base, Germany, where he flew the F-86D interceptor. He graduated in 1959 from the Air Force Experimental Flight Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and received the A B Honts Award as the outstanding graduate. He remained with the school as an instructor and later was Chief of the Performance Branch.
NASA selected Stafford as an astronaut in 1962. In December 1965, he was pilot of Gemini 6. He and Commander Wally Schirra flew the first space rendezvous mission, closing to within a metre of Gemini 7. He commanded Gemini 9, with Gene Cernan as pilot, in June 1966, rendezvousing with the ATDA docking target after their original Agena target vehicle failed to reach orbit. They were unable to dock with the ATDA because the protective fibreglass shroud had failed to jettison completely, but they flew three different types of rendezvous with it. Cernan conducted an EVA which had to be cut short because his faceplate became completely fogged up. Stafford commanded the Apollo 10 lunar orbit flight in May 1969, with John Young and Gene Cernan. He and Cernan separated the Lunar Module and approached to within 10 miles of the surface, paving the way for the Apollo 11 crew to make the first moon landing two months later. Stafford's fourth space mission as Commander of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in July 1975. He, Deke Slayton, and Vance Brand docked in orbit with a Soyuz carrying cosmonauts Alexei Leonov and Valery Kubasov.
Stafford returned to the Air Force and assumed command of the Air Force Flight Test Center in 1975. He was promoted to lieutenant general in 1978 and was assigned as Deputy Chief of Staff, Research, Development and Acquisition, Headquarters, USAF, Washington, DC. He retired from the Air Force in 1979.
Thereafter Stafford was a partner in the consulting firm Stafford, Burke and Hecker. In 1990-91, he headed a Synthesis Group chartered by NASA and the White House to recommend a future course in space for the United States.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL THOMAS P. STAFFORD
Retired Nov. 1, 1979
Lieutenant General Thomas P. Stafford is deputy chief of staff, research, development and acquisition, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
General Stafford was born in 1930, in Weatherford, Okla., where he graduated from Weatherford High School in. 1948. He graduated with honors in 1952 from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.
General Stafford received his pilot wings at James Connally Air Force Base, Texas, in September 1953. After completing advanced interceptor training, he was assigned to the 54th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. In December 1955 he was transferred to the 496th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Hahn Air Base, Germany, where he was a pilot, flight leader and flight test maintenance officer, flying the F-86D aircraft.
He entered the Air Force Experimental Flight Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in August 1958 and received the A.B. Honts award as the outstanding graduate in April 1959. He remained with the school as an instructor and later was chief of the performance branch. He was instructor in flight test training and specialized academic subjects -- establishing basic textbooks and directing the writing of flight test manuals for use by the staff and students. He is co-author of the "Pilot's Handbook For Performance Flight Testing" and the "Aerodynamics Handbook For Performance Flight Testing."
General Stafford was selected among the second group of astronauts in September 1962 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to participate in projects Gemini and Apollo. In December 1965 he was the pilot of Gemini VI, which was the first rendezvous in space, and helped in the development techniques to prove the basic theory and practicality of space rendezvous. In June 1966 he was commander of Gemini IX and performed three different types of rendezvous, including a demonstration of an early rendezvous that would be used in Apollo, the first Optical rendezvous, and a lunar-orbit-abort rendezvous.
From August 1966 to October 1968 he headed the mission planning analysis and software development responsibilities for the astronaut group for Project Apollo. General Stafford was a member of the group which helped formulate the sequence of missions leading to the first lunar-landing mission. He demonstrated and implemented the theory of a pilot manually flying the Saturn booster into orbit and the translunar-injection maneuver.
General Stafford was commander of Apollo X in May 1969, the first flight of the lunar module to the moon, performed the first rendezvous around the moon, and performed the entire lunar-landing mission except the actual landing. He also made reconnaissance and tracking on future Apollo landing sites. General Stafford was cited in the "Guinness Book of World Records" for highest reentry speed of any Manned Space flight during Apollo X. In June 1969 he was assigned as head of the astronaut group and, as such, was responsible for the selection of flight crews for projects Apollo and Skylab. He reviewed and monitored flight crew training statuses, and was responsible for coordination, scheduling, and control of all activities involving NASA astronauts.
In June 1971 General Stafford was assigned as deputy director of flight crew operations at the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center. In this role he was responsible for assisting the director in planning and implementing programs for the astronaut group, and the Aircraft Operations, Flight Crew Integration, Flight Crew Procedures, and the Crew Simulation and Training Divisions. He logged his fourth space flight as Apollo commander of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission from July 15-24, 1975--a joint space flight culminating in the historic first meeting in space between American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts. The event signaled a major advance in efforts for the conduct of joint experiments and the exchange of mutual assistance in future international space explorations.
In November 1975 General Stafford became commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. He assumed his present duty on April 1, 1978.
General Stafford has completed 507 hours and 43 minutes in space flight and wears the Air Force Command Pilot Astronaut Wings. He has more than 6,800 flying hours. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award ribbon with three oak leaf clusters.
Other awards presented to General Stafford include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, NASA Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, NASA Exceptional Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Chanute Flight Award (1976), the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Space Award, National Geographic Society's General Thomas D. White USAF Space Trophy (1975), and the Federal Aeronautique Internationale Gold Space Medal. In 1966 he was corecipient of the AIAA Award, and in 1969 he received the National Academy of Television Arts and Science Special Trustees Award.
General Stafford has received the Harmon International Aviation Trophy twice. In 1966 he was awarded the trophy for piloting Gemini VI. During this mission he performed the first rendezvous in space and helped develop techniques and basic theory for practical space rendezvous. The 1976 trophy was presented jointly to General Stafford and Colonel Alexei Leonov, Soviet Union cosmonaut, for their work on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. For the first time two spacecraft of different designs, which had been launched from pads 6,500 miles apart, met and docked in space. General Stafford piloted the Apollo craft that was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., and Colonel Leonov piloted the Soviet Soyuz craft that was launched from the Baikonur launch complex, Kazakhstan, U.S.S.R.
In addition General Stafford is the recipient of several honorary degrees. These include a doctorate of science from Oklahoma City University; a doctorate of laws, Western State University, Gunnison, Colo.; a doctorate of communications, Emerson College, Boston, Mass.; and a doctorate of aeronautical engineering, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Fla.
General Stafford was promoted to the grade of lieutenant general on April 1, 1978, with same date of rank.
(Current as of February 1979)
Departed Date: 1975-11-01. Marital Status: Married. Children: Two children. Education: Annapolis;Edwards.
Astronaut Thomas Stafford photographed during Gemini 9 mission
NASA planned to select five to ten astronauts to augment the seven-member Mercury astronaut team. The new pilots would participate in support operations in Project Mercury and would join the Mercury astronauts in piloting the two-man Gemini spacecraft. To be chosen, the applicant must (1) be an experienced jet test pilot and preferably be presently engaged in flying high-performance aircraft; (2) have attained experimental flight test status through military service, aircraft industry, or NASA, or must have graduated from a military test pilot school; (3) have earned a degree in the physical or biological sciences or in engineering; (4) be a United States citizen under 35 years of age at the time of selection, six feet or less in height; and (5) be recommended by his parent organization. Pilots meeting these qualifications would be interviewed in July and given written examinations on their engineering and scientific knowledge. Selected applicants would then be thoroughly examined by a group of medical specialists. The training program for the new astronauts would include work with design and development engineers, simulator flying, centrifuge training, additional scientific training, and flights in high-performance aircraft.
The group was selected to provide pilots for the Gemini program and early Apollo missions.. Qualifications: Test pilot status (either military, NASA, or aircraft industry), qualified jet pilot with minimum 1,000 flight-hours, under 35 years old, under 183 cm height, excellent health. US citizen.. 253 applicants survived initial NASA screening of their records. Following physical and psychiatric tests, nine were selected. Eight made it to space (See was killed in a T-38 crash before his first spaceflight). This was generally considered the highest quality group of astronauts ever selected. They would command the missions during the glory days of the American space program - Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab. Young was the only astronaut to fly Gemini, Apollo, and the Shuttle program. Armstrong was the only one to fly the X-15, Gemini, and Apollo. Conrad was the only one to fly Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab.
NASA's nine new astronauts were named in Houston, Tex., by Robert R. Gilruth, MSC Director. Chosen from 253 applicants, the former test pilots who would join the original seven Mercury astronauts in training for Projects Gemini and Apollo were: Neil A. Armstrong, NASA civilian test pilot; Maj. Frank Borman, Air Force; Lt. Charles Conrad, Jr., Navy; Lt.Cdr. James A, Lovell, Jr., Navy; Capt. James A. McDivitt, Air Force; Elliot M. See, Jr., civilian test pilot for the General Electric Company; Capt. Thomas P. Stafford, Air Force; Capt. Edward H. White II, Air Force; and Lt. Cdr. John W. Young, Navy.
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.
Manned Spacecraft Center announced specialty areas for the nine new astronauts: trainers and simulators, Neil A. Armstrong; boosters, Frank Borman; cockpit layout and systems integration, Charles Conrad, Jr.; recovery systems, 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 and survival equipment, John W Young.
First manned test flight of Gemini. Virgil I. Grissom and John W. Young entered an elliptical orbit about the earth. After three orbits, the pair manually landed their spacecraft in the Atlantic Ocean, thus performing the first controlled reentry. Unfortunately, they landed much farther from the landing zone than anticipated, about 97 km (60 miles) from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Intrepid. But otherwise the mission was highly successful. Gemini III, America's first two-manned space mission, also was the first manned vehicle that was maneuverable. Grissom used the vehicle's maneuvering rockets to effect orbital and plane changes. Grissom wanted to name the spacecraft 'Molly Brown' (as in the Unsinkable, a Debbie Reynolds/Howard Keel screen musical). NASA was not amused and stopped allowing the astronauts to name their spacecraft (until forced to when having two spacecraft aloft at once during the Apollo missions). The flight by Young was the first of an astronaut outside of the original seven. Young, who created a media flap by taking a corned beef sandwich aboard as a prank, would go on to fly to the moon on Apollo and the Space Shuttle on its first flight sixteen years later.
Manned Spacecraft Center announced that Walter M. Schirra, Jr., and Thomas P. Stafford had been selected as command pilot and pilot for Gemini-Titan 6, the first Gemini rendezvous and docking mission. Virgil I. Grissom and John W. Young would be the backup crew.
The primary objective of the mission, crewed by command pilot Astronaut Walter M. Schirra, Jr., and pilot Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford, was to rendezvous with spacecraft No. 7. Among the secondary objectives were stationkeeping with spacecraft No. 7, evaluating spacecraft reentry guidance capability, testing the visibility of spacecraft No. 7 as a rendezvous target, and conducting three experiments. After the launch vehicle inserted the spacecraft into an 87 by 140 nautical mile orbit, the crew prepared for the maneuvers necessary to achieve rendezvous. Four maneuvers preceded the first radar contact between the two spacecraft. The first maneuver, a height adjustment, came an hour and a half after insertion, at first perigee; a phase adjustment at second apogee, a plane change, and another height adjustment at second perigee followed. The onboard radar was turned on 3 hours into the mission. The first radar lock-on indicated 246 miles between the two spacecraft. The coelliptic maneuver was performed at third apogee, 3 hours 47 minutes after launch. The terminal phase initiation maneuver was performed an hour and a half later. Two midcourse corrections preceded final braking maneuvers at 5 hours 50 minutes into the flight. Rendezvous was technically accomplished and stationkeeping began some 6 minutes later when the two spacecraft were about 120 feet apart and their relative motion had stopped. Stationkeeping maneuvers continued for three and a half orbits at distances from 1 to 300 feet. Spacecraft No. 6 then initiated a separation maneuver and withdrew to a range of about 30 miles. The only major malfunction in spacecraft No. 6 during the mission was the failure of the delayed-time telemetry tape recorder at 20 hours 55 minutes ground elapsed time, which resulted in the loss of all delayed-time telemetry data for the remainder of the mission, some 4 hours and 20 minutes. The flight ended with a nominal reentry and landing in the West Atlantic, just 10 km from the planned landing point, on December 16. The crew remained in the spacecraft, which was recovered an hour later by the prime recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Wasp.
Gemini 6 was to have been the first flight involving docking with an Agena target/propulsion stage. However the Agena blew up on the way to orbit, and the spacecraft was replaced by Gemini 7 in the launch order.
For lack of a target, NASA decided to have Gemini 6 rendezvous with Gemini 7. This would require a quick one week turnaround of the pad after launch, no problem with Russian equipment but a big accomplishment for the Americans. The first launch attempt was aborted; the Titan II ignited for a moment, then shut down and settled back down on its launch attachments. Schirra waited it out, did not pull the abort handles that would send the man catapulting out of the capsule on their notoriously unreliable ejection seats. The booster was safed; Schirra had saved the mission and the launch three days later went perfectly. The flight went on to achieve the first manned space rendezvous controlled entirely by the self-contained, on-board guidance, control, and navigation system. This system provided the crew of Gemini 6 with attitude, thrusting, and time information needed for them to control the spacecraft during the rendezvous. Under Schirra's typically precise command, the operation was so successful that the rendezvous was complete with fuel consumption only 5% above the planned value to reach 16 m separation from Gemini 7.
Gemini 6 splashed down near the aircraft carrier Wasp at 15:28 GMT. The capsule was lifted to the carrier deck with the crew aboard. When the hatch doors were opened, the spacemen gave the thumbs-up while the Navy band crashed in with 'Anchors Aweigh'. It was the first recovery carried live via satellite television.
Elliot See and Charlie Bassett were the prime crew for Gemini 9. On February 28, 1966, they were flying in a NASA T-38 trainer to visit the McDonnell plant in St Louis, where their spacecraft was in assembly. See misjudged his landing approach, and in pulling up from the runway, hit Building 101 where the spacecraft was being assembled. Both astronauts were killed, and 14 persons on the ground were injured. As a result, the Gemini 9 backup crew became the prime crew, and all subsequent crew assignments were reshuffled. This ended up determining who would be the first man on the moon.
At the first launch attempt, while the crew waited buttoned up in the spacecraft on the pad, their Agena docking target field blew up on the way to orbit. NASA decided to use an Atlas to launch an Agena docking collar only. This was called the Augmented Target Docking Adapter. Ths was successfully launched and the Gemini succeeded in rendezvousing with it. However, the ATDA shroud had not completely separated, thus making docking impossible. However three different types of rendezvous were tested with the ATDA. Cernan began his EVA, which was to include flight with a USAF MMU rocket pack but the Gemini suit could not handle heat load of the astronaut's exertions. Cernan's faceplate fogs up, forcing him to blindly grope back into the Gemini hatch after only two hours.
Seventh manned and third rendezvous mission of the Gemini program. Major objectives of the mission were to rendezvous and dock with the augmented target docking adapter (ATDA) and to conduct extravehicular activities (EVA). These objectives were only partially met. After successfully achieving rendezvous during the third revolution - a secondary objective - the crew discovered that the ATDA shroud had failed to separate, precluding docking - a primary objective - as well as docking practice - another secondary objective. The crew was able, however, to achieve other secondary objectives: an equi-period rendezvous, using onboard optical techniques and completed at 6 hours 36 minutes ground elapsed time; and a rendezvous from above, simulating the rendezvous of an Apollo command module with a lunar module in a lower orbit (completed at 21 hours 42 minutes ground elapsed time). Final separation maneuver was performed at 22 hours 59 minutes after liftoff. EVA was postponed because of crew fatigue, and the second day was given over to experiments. The hatch was opened for EVA at 49 hours 23 minutes ground elapsed time. EVA was successful, but one secondary objective - evaluation of the astronaut maneuvering unit (AMU) - was not achieved because Cernan's visor began fogging. The extravehicular life support system apparently became overloaded with moisture when Cernan had to work harder than anticipated to prepare the AMU for donning. Cernan reentered the spacecraft, and the hatch was closed at 51 hours 28 minutes into the flight. The rest of the third day was spent on experiments.
Following the third sleep period, the crew prepared for retrofire, which was initiated during the 45th revolution. The spacecraft landed at 13:59 GMTwithin 1.6 km of the primary recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Wasp. The crew remained with the spacecraft, which was hoisted aboard 53 minutes after landing.
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.)
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.
Before the Apollo 1 fire, it was planned that McDivitt's crew would conduct the Apollo D mission - a first manned test in earth orbit of the Lunar Module. Separate Saturn IB launches would put Apollo Block II CSM 101 / AS-207 and Lunar Module LM-2 / AS-208 into earth orbit. The crew would then rendezvous and dock with the lunar module and put it through its paces. After the fire, it was decided to launch the mission on a single Saturn V as Apollo 9.
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.
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.
Apollo 10 splashed down in the Pacific at 12:52 p.m. EDT on May 26, 5.4 kilometers from the recovery ship. The crew was picked up and reached the recovery ship U.S.S. Princeton at 16:52 GMT. All primary mission objectives of evaluating performance and support and the detailed test objectives were achieved.
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.
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....