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Astronaut Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot of the first lunar landing mission, is beside the U.S. flag during an v Apollo 11 moonwalk. The lunar module is on the left, and the footprints of the astronauts are clearly visible in the soil of the moon. Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, took this picture with a 70mm Hasselblad lunar surface camera.
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A history of NASA’s early exploration
Projects Mercury and Gemini; Apollo Program NASA’s pioneering astronauts
TONY FERNANDEZ- DAVILA All text and photos courtesy of NASA ©2018 GATEHOUSE MEDIA LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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After several publicly failed attempts, the Naval Research Laboratory’s Vanguard I was launched in March 1958. Within two and half years, Project Vanguard built a three stage launching vehicle, a worldwide satellite tracking system and a launching facility.
Small steps toward a
GIANTLEAP A history of NASA’s early exploration
Oct. 1, 1958: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration began operation. At the time it consisted of only about 8,000 employees and an annual budget of $100 million. In addition to a small headquarters staff in Washington that directed operations, NASA had at the time three major research laboratories inherited from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics — the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory established in 1918, the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory activated near San Francisco in 1940, and the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory built at Cleveland, Ohio, in 1941 — and two small test facilities, one for high-speed flight research at Muroc Dry Lake in the high desert of California and one for sounding rockets at Wallops Island, Virginia. It soon added several other government research organizations. Oct. 11, 1958: Pioneer I is the first NASA launch.
Dec. 6, 1958: The United States launched Pioneer 3, the first U.S. satellite to ascend to an altitude of 63,580 miles. Dec. 18, 1958: An Air Force Atlas booster placed into orbit a communications relay satellite, PROJECT SCORE, or the “talking atlas.” A total of 8,750 pounds was placed in orbit, of which 150 pounds was the payload. On Dec. 19 President Eisenhower’s Christmas message was beamed from the PROJECT SCORE satellite in orbit, the first voice sent from space. Feb. 17, 1959: The United States launched scientific satellite Vanguard 2. March 3, 1959: The United States sent Pioneer 4 to the moon, successfully making the first U.S. lunar flyby.
John McKay made the last flight in the X-1E. It is now on display in front of the Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.
Nov. 7, 1958: NASA research pilot John McKay made the last flight in the X-1E, the final model flown of the X-1 series. Data from tests at the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory (now NASA’s Langley Research Center) with
actual flight values enabled the U.S. aeronautical community to solve many of the problems that occur in the transonic speed range (0.7 to 1.3 times the speed of sound), contributing to design principles that enabled reliable and routine flight of fighter as well as commercial transport aircraft from the mid-1950s to the present.
April 9, 1959: After a two-month selection process, NASA unveiled the Mercury astronaut corps: from the Marine Corps, Lt. Col. John H. Glenn Jr.; from the Navy, Lt. Cdr. Walter M. Schirra Jr., Lt. Cdr. Alan B. Shepard Jr. and Lt. M. Scott Carpenter; and from the Air Force, Capt. L. Gordon Cooper, Capt. Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom and Capt. Donald K. Slayton. May 28, 1959: The United States launches and recovers two monkeys, Able and Baker, in Jupiter nose cone during a suborbital flight. The flight is successful, testing the capability to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and to recover spacecraft in the Atlantic Ocean. April 1, 1960: The United States launched TIROS 1, the first successful meteorological satellite, observing Earth’s weather. April 13, 1960: The United States launched Transit 1B, the first experimental orbital navigation system. Above, the first pass of Echo 1, America’s first communications satellite, over the Goldstone Tracking Station managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, in the early morning of Aug. 12, 1960. The movement of the antenna, star trails (shorter streaks) and Echo 1 (the long streak in the middle) are visible in this image.
July 1, 1960: The Army Ballistic Missile Agency of the Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama, formally became a part of NASA and was renamed the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center. This organization included the German “rocket team” led by Wernher von Braun that came to the United States at the conclusion of World War II. Aug. 12, 1960: NASA successfully orbited Echo 1, a 100foot inflatable, aluminized balloon passive communications satellite. The objective was to bounce radio beams off the satellite as a means of long-distance communications. Dec. 19, 1960: NASA launched Mercury 1, the first Mercury-Redstone capsule-launch vehicle combination. This was an unoccupied test flight. Jan. 31, 1961: NASA launched Mercury 2, a test mission of the Mercury-Redstone capsule-launch vehicle combination with the chimpanzee Ham aboard during a 16.5-minute flight in suborbital space. Ham and his capsule are successfully recovered.
Sam, a rhesus monkey, flew to an altitude of 88 km in 1959. Here Sam is seen encased in a model of the Mercury fiberglass contour couch.
Launch of the unmanned Mercury Redstone 1A from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Dec. 19, 1960. It was the first successful flight to a peak altitude of 135 miles. Astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr., pilot of the Mercury-Redstone 3 suborbital spaceflight, is retrieved by a helicopter from the USS Lake Champlain during recovery operations in the western Atlantic Ocean May 5, 1961. Shepard nicknamed the Mercury spacecraft “Freedom 7.”
May 5, 1961: Freedom 7, the first piloted Mercury spacecraft (No. 7) carrying Astronaut Alan Shepard, was launched from Cape Canaveral to an altitude of 115 nautical miles and a range of 302 miles. It was the first American space flight involving human beings, and during his 15-minute suborbital flight, Shepard rode a Redstone booster to a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean. Shepard demonstrated that individuals can control a vehicle during weightlessness and high G stresses, and significant scientific biomedical data were acquired. He reached a speed of 5,100 miles per hour and his flight lasted 14.8 minutes. Shepard was the second human and the first American to fly in space. May 25, 1961: President John F. Kennedy unveiled the commitment to execute Project Apollo in a speech on “Urgent National Needs,” billed as a second State of the Union message. He told Congress that the U.S. faced extraordinary challenges and needed to respond extraordinarily. In announcing the lunar landing commitment he said: “I believe this Nation should commitment itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.” July 21, 1961: The second piloted flight of a Mercury spacecraft with astronaut Gus Grissom undertook a suborbital mission. The flight had problems: The hatch blew off prematurely from the Mercury capsule, Liberty Bell 7, and it sank into the Atlantic Ocean before it could be recovered. In the process the astronaut nearly drowned before being hoisted to safety in a helicopter. These suborbital flights, however, proved valuable for NASA technicians who found ways to solve or work around literally thousands of obstacles to successful space flight.
Aug. 23, 1961: NASA launched Ranger 1, with the mission of photographing and mapping part of the Moon’s surface, but it failed to achieve its planned orbit. Sept. 19, 1961: NASA Administrator James E. Webb announced that the site of the NASA center dedicated to human space flight would be Houston, Texas. This became the Manned Spacecraft Center, renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in 1973.
Oct. 25, 1961: NASA announced the establishment of the Mississippi Test Facility, renamed the John C. Stennis Space Center in 1988. This installation became the test site for the large Saturn boosters developed for Project Apollo. Oct. 27, 1961: NASA accomplished the first successful test of the Saturn I rocket. Feb. 20, 1962: John Glenn became the first American to circle the Earth, making three orbits in his Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft. Despite some problems with the craft — Glenn flew parts of the last two orbits manually because of an autopilot failure and left his normally jettisoned retrorocket pack attached to his capsule during re-entry because of a loose heat shield — this flight was enormously successful. Among other engagements, Glenn addressed a joint session of Congress and participated in several ticker-tape parades around the country. June 7, 1962: At an all-day meeting at the Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA leaders met to hash out differences over the method of going to the Moon with Project Apollo, with the debate getting heated at times. The contention was essentially between Earthorbit versus lunar-orbit rendezvous. After more than six hours of discussion those in favor of Earth-orbit rendezvous finally gave in to the lunar-orbit rendezvous mode, saying that its advocates had demonstrated adequately its feasibility and that any further contention would jeopardize the president’s timetable. This cleared the path for the development of the hardware necessary to accomplish the president’s goal.
Astronauts Thomas P. Stafford (left), pilot, and Walter M. Schirra Jr., command pilot, pose during a suiting up exercise in preparation for the NASA’s Gemini-6 two-day mission.
July 10, 1962: NASA launched Telstar l, the first privately built satellite for communications. First telephone and television signals carried via satellite. Oct. 3, 1962: Wally Schirra flew six orbits in the Mercury spacecraft Sigma 7.
Buzz Aldrin performs a spacewalk during the Gemini XII mission, with the Agena Target Vehicle visible in the background.
Dec. 14, 1962: Mariner 2 makes the first successful planetary flyby, of Venus. May 15-16, 1963: The capstone of Project Mercury took place with the flight of astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, who circled the Earth 22 times in 34 hours aboard the Mercury capsule Faith 7. Aug. 22, 1963: Experimental aircraft X-15 sets altitude record of 354,200 feet (67 miles). Jan. 29, 1964: NASA’s largest launch vehicle, Saturn SA-5, sends a record of 19 tons into orbit during a test flight. Apr. 8, 1964: The first American Gemini flight took place on this date, an unpiloted test that made four orbits and was successfully recovered. May 28, 1964: The United States placed the first Apollo Command Module in orbit. This capsule was launched during an automated test flight atop a Saturn I in preparation of the lunar landing program.
April 6, 1965: The United States launched Intelsat I, the first commercial satellite for communications, into geostationary orbit. June 3-7, 1965: The second piloted Gemini mission, Gemini IV, stayed aloft for four days and astronaut Edward H. White II performed the first EVA, or spacewalk, by an American. This was a critical task that would have to be mastered before landing on the Moon. July 14, 1965: An American space probe, Mariner 4, flies within 6,118 miles of Mars after an eight-month journey. This mission provided the first close-up images of the red planet.
July 28, 1964: The United States’ Ranger 7 sends back to Earth 4,300 close-up images of the Moon before it impacts on the surface. Oct. 30, 1964: NASA pilot Joseph Walker conducted the first flight in the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle, known for its unusual shape as the “Flying Bedstead.” Two LLRVs and three Lunar Landing Training Vehicles developed from them provided realistic simulation that was critical for landing a spacecraft on Saturn 1 rocket launch (Apollo moon the Moon in the Apollo program. program) Pad 37b, Cape Canaveral, Jan. 29, 1964.
June 2, 1966: Surveyor 1 landed on the Moon and transmitted more than 10,000 high-quality photographs of the surface. This was the first American spacecraft to soft-land on the Moon, touching down on the “Ocean of Storms,” a possible site for the Apollo landings. July 3-6, 1966: During the flight of Gemini IX, American astronauts Tom Stafford and Eugene Cernan make a two-hour EVA. July 18-21, 1966: During Gemini X American astronauts Mike Collins and John Young make two rendezvous and docking maneuvers with Agena target vehicles, plus complete a complex EVA.
Aug. 21-29, 1965: During the flight of Gemini V, American astronauts Gordon Cooper and Pete Conrad set record with an eight-day orbital flight.
Nov. 11-15, 1966: The last Gemini flight, Gemini XII, was launched. During this mission, American astronauts Jim Lovell and Buzz Aldrin completed three EVAs and a docking with an Agena target vehicle.
Dec. 4-18, 1965: During the flight of Gemini VII, American astronauts Frank Borman and James A. Lovell set a duration record of 14 days in Earth-orbit.
Jan. 27, 1967: At 6:31 p.m., during a simulation aboard Apollo-Saturn 204 on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, after several hours of work, a flash fire broke out in the pure oxygen atmosphere of the capsule. The three astronauts aboard — Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee — died of asphyxiation. These were the first deaths directly attributable to the U.S. space program. As a result of this accident the Apollo program went into hiatus until the spacecraft could be redesigned. The program returned to flight status during Apollo 7 in October 1968.
Dec. 15-16, 1965: During Gemini VI, U.S. astronauts Wally Schirra and Thomas P. Stafford complete the first true space rendezvous by flying within a few feet of Gemini VII.
March 16, 1966: During Gemini VIII American astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and David Scott performed the first orbital docking of their spacecraft to an Agena target vehicle. This was
March 23, 1965: After two unoccupied test flights, the first operational mission — Gemini III — of Project Gemini took place. Former Mercury astronaut Gus Grissom commanded the mission, with John W. Young, a Naval aviator chosen as an astronaut in 1962, accompanying him.
a critical task to master before attempting to land on the Moon, a mission that required several dockings and undockings of spacecraft.
Nov. 9, 1967: During Apollo 4, an unpiloted test of the launcher and spacecraft, NASA proves that the combination could safely reach the Moon. Jan. 22, 1968: In Apollo 5, NASA made the first flight test of the propulsion systems of the Lunar Module ascent/descent capability. Oct. 11-22, 1968: The first piloted flight of the Apollo spacecraft, Apollo 7, and Saturn IB launch vehicle, this flight involved astronauts Wally Schirra, Donn F. Eisele and Walter Cunningham who tested hardware in Earth orbit. Dec. 21-27, 1968: Apollo 8 took off atop a Saturn V booster from the Kennedy Space Center with three astronauts aboard — Frank Borman, James A. Lovell and William A. Anders — for a historic mission to orbit the Moon. At first it was planned as a mission to test Apollo hardware in the relatively safe confines of low Earthorbit, but senior engineer George M. Low of the Manned Spacecraft Center at Houston and Samuel C. Phillips, Apollo program manager at NASA headquarters, pressed for approval to make it a circumlunar flight. After Apollo 8 made one and a half Earth orbits its third stage began a burn to put the spacecraft on a lunar trajectory. As it traveled outward the crew focused a portable television camera on Earth and for the first time humanity saw its home from afar, a tiny “blue marble” hanging in the blackness of space. When it arrived at the Moon on Christmas Eve this image of Earth was even more strongly reinforced when the crew sent images of the planet back while reading the first part of the Bible — “God created the heavens and the Earth, and the Earth was without form and void” — before sending Christmas greetings to humanity. The next day they fired the boosters for a return flight and “splashed down” in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 27. March 3-13, 1969: In Apollo 9, astronauts James McDivitt, David Scott and Russell Schweickart orbit the Earth and test all of the hardware needed for a lunar landing.
The famous “Earthrise” photo from Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon. The crew entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve 1968. That evening, the astronauts held a live broadcast, showing pictures of the Earth and moon as seen from their spacecraft.
May 18-26, 1969: In Apollo 10, Eugene Cernan, John Young and Tom Stafford run the last dress rehearsal for the Moon landing. They take the Lunar Module for a test run within 10 miles of the lunar surface. July 16-24, 1969: The first lunar landing mission, Apollo 11 began the three day trip to the Moon. At 4:18 p.m. EST on July 20 the Lunar Module — with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin — landed on the lunar surface while Michael Collins orbited overhead in the Apollo command module. After checkout, Armstrong set foot on the surface, telling the millions of listeners that it was “one small step for man — one giant leap for mankind.” Aldrin soon followed him out and the two plodded around the landing site in the 1/6 lunar gravity, planted an American flag but omitted claiming the land for the U.S. as had routinely been done during European exploration of the Americas, collected soil and rock samples, and set up some experiments. After more than 21 hours on the lunar surface, they returned to Collins on board Columbia, bringing 20.87 kilograms of lunar samples with them. The two moonwalkers had left behind scientific instruments, an American flag and other mementos, including a plaque bearing the inscription: “Here Men From Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon. Jul. 1969 A.D. We came in Peace For All Mankind.” The next day they began the return trip to Earth, “splashing down” in the Pacific on July 24.
Sept. 15, 1969: The presidentially appointed Space Task Group issued its report on the post-Apollo space program on this date. Chartered on Feb. 13, 1969, under Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, this group met throughout the spring and summer to plot a course for the space program. NASA lobbied hard for a far-reaching program that included development of a space station, a reusable Space Shuttle, a Moon base and a human expedition to Mars. The NASA position was well reflected in the group’s report, but President Nixon did not act on the group’s recommendations. Instead, he was silent on the future of the U.S. space program until a March 1970 statement that said “we must also recognize that many critical problems here on this planet make high priority demands on our attention and our resources.” Nov. 14-24, 1969: In Apollo 12 U.S. astronauts Charles Conrad, Richard Gordon and Alan Bean go to the Moon for a second manned landing. They landed near the Surveyor 3 landing site and spend 7.5 hours walking on the
Portrait of the prime crew of the Apollo 12 lunar landing mission. From left to right: Commander Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr., command module pilot Richard F. Gordon Jr. and lunar module pilot Alan L. Bean. The Apollo 12 mission was the second lunar landing mission in which the third and fourth American astronauts set foot upon the moon. This mission was highlighted by the lunar module nicknamed “Intrepid” landing within a few hundred yards of a Surveyor probe that was sent to the moon in April 1967 on a mapping mission as a precursor to landing.
surface, including an inspection of the Surveyor probe. April 11-17, 1970: The flight of Apollo 13 was one of the near disasters of the program. At 56 hours into the flight, an oxygen tank in the Apollo service module ruptured and damaged several of the power, electrical and life support systems. People throughout the world watched and waited and hoped as NASA personnel on the ground and the crew, well on their way to the Moon and with no way of returning until they went around it, worked together to find a way safely home. While NASA engineers quickly determined that sufficient air, water and electricity did not exist in the Apollo capsule to sustain the three astronauts until they could return to Earth, they found that the Lunar Module, a self-contained spacecraft unaffected by the accident, could be used as a “lifeboat” for the return trip. The crew returned safely, and the near disaster served several important purposes for the civil space program, especially prompting reconsideration of the propriety of the whole effort while solidifying in the popular mind NASA’s technological genius.
Apollo 12 astronaut Alan L. Bean holds a special environmental sample container which holds soil collected during a moonwalk. Commander Charles “Pete” Conrad had just put a soil sample in the tube with a shovel. Conrad took the photograph and can be seen in the reflection in Bean’s visor.
On May 5, 1961, astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. had a view of Earth that no American had seen before, looking down on the home planet from the Freedom 7 Mercury capsule on his history-making suborbital flight.
Project Mercury put the first Americans into space. Initiated in 1958, with six manned flights from 1961 to 1963, Project Mercury’s objectives were specific: to orbit a manned spacecraft around Earth; to investigate man’s ability to function in space; and to recover both man and spacecraft safely.
Astronaut Alan Shepard
Astronaut John Glenn undergoes
Close-up view of astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. in his pressure simulated orbital flight training suit, with helmet opened, for the Mercury-Redstone 3 (MR-3) John H. Glenn Jr. undergoes a simulated orbital flight, the first American human spaceflight May 5, 1961. flight as part of his training for Project Mercury in the Manned Spacecraft Center’s procedure trainer at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, Nov. 29, 1961.
Glenn in orbit
A camera onboard the “Friendship 7” Mercury spacecraft photographs Glenn during his historic flight on Feb. 20, 1962.
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Project Gemini was NASA’s second human spaceflight program, with 10 manned flights between 1965 and 1966. Similar in design to the Mercury capsule but much larger, the new Gemini spacecraft was designed to carry two astronauts into Earth’s orbit to test long-duration flight, rendezvous and docking, and other technologies needed for journeys to the moon.
Gemini was an intermediate step between Mercury and Apollo. Its major objectives: to subject two men and their equipment to long duration, microgravity flights; to rendezvous and dock with other orbiting vehicles; and to perfect methods of re-entry and landing the spacecraft at a pre-selected point.
Liftoff of John Glenn’s Friendship 7, Feb. 20, 1962 Liftoff of the MercuryAtlas 6 mission on Feb. 20, 1962. On this mission, Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. As part of the preflight checklist, Glenn asked engineers to get NASA research mathematician Katherine Johnson to check the orbital equations by hand on her desktop mechanical calculating machine.
In March 1965, astronauts Gus Grissom and John Young became the first Gemini crew to fly.
Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon with Neil Armstrong on Apollo 11, July 20â€“21, 1969.
The Apollo Program landed humans on the moon and brought them back safely to Earth. After 16 uncrewed vehicletesting missions and the tragedy of the Apollo 1 launch pad fire, the Earth-orbiting Apollo 7 and 9 missions tested the command and lunar modules. Apollos 8 and 10 tested various components while orbiting the moon, and returned photography of the lunar surface. Six lunar landings (Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17) returned a wealth of scientific data and almost 400 kilograms of lunar samples. Apollo 13 did not land on the moon due to a malfunction. Three planned Apollo missions (Apollo 18, 19 and 20) were cancelled.
The Apollo 7/Saturn IB space vehicle is launched from the Kennedy Space Centerâ€™s Launch Complex 34 at 11:03 a.m. on Oct. 11, 1968.
SPACE NASA’s pioneering astronauts
During the first moonwalk of Apollo 17, on Dec. 12, 1972, Eugene Cernan photographed Harrison Schmitt with the American flag and the Earth (400,000 km away) in the background. Cernan is visible in the reflection in Schmitt’s helmet visor in the awkward position he assumed to obtain this image.
Edward E. ‘Buzz’ Aldrin
Born: Jan. 20, 1930, Montclair, New Jersey NASA experience: Aldrin was one of the third group of astronauts named by NASA in October 1963. On Nov. 11, 1966, he and command pilot James Lovell were launched into space in the Gemini 12 spacecraft on a four-day flight, which brought the Gemini program to a successful close. Aldrin established a new record for extravehicular activity, spending 5 1/2 hours outside the spacecraft. He served as lunar module pilot for Apollo 11, July 16-24, 1969, the first manned lunar landing mission. Aldrin followed Neil Armstrong onto the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, completing a 2 hour and 15 minute lunar EVA. Aldrin has logged 289 hours and 53 minutes in space, of which, 7 hours and 52 minutes were spent in EVA. Military experience: Aldrin flew 66 combat missions in F-86s while on duty in Korea. At Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, he served as an aerial gunnery instructor. After his assignment as aide to the dean of faculty at the Air Force Academy, Aldrin flew F-100s as a flight commander at Bitburg, Germany. He went on to receive a doctorate at MIT, and was then assigned to the Gemini Target Office of the Air Force Space Systems Division, Los Angeles. In March 1972, Aldrin retired from Air Force active duty, after 21 years of service. As a USAF jet fighter pilot during the Korean War, he shot down two MIG 15 aircraft.
William A. Anders
Born: Oct. 17, 1933, Hong Kong NASA experience: In 1964, Anders was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as an astronaut with responsibilities for dosimetry, radiation effects and environmental controls. He was backup pilot for the Gemini XI, Apollo 11 flights, and was lunar module pilot for Apollo 8, the first lunar orbit mission in December 1968. He has logged more than 6,000 hours’ flying time. Military experience: Anders was commissioned in the Air Force after graduation from the Naval Academy and served as a fighter pilot in all-weather interception squadrons of the Air Defense Command and later was responsible for technical management of nuclear power reactor shielding and radiation effects programs while at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory in New Mexico.
Neil A. Armstrong
Born: Aug. 5, 1930, Wapakoneta, Ohio Died: Aug. 25, 2012, Cincinnati NASA experience: After serving as a naval aviator from 1949 to 1952, Armstrong joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1955. His first assignment was with the NACA Lewis Research Center (now NASA Glenn Research Center) in Cleveland. Over the next 17 years, he was an engineer, test pilot, astronaut and administrator for NACA and its successor agency, NASA. As a research pilot at NASA’s Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California, Armstrong was a project pilot on many pioneering high-speed aircraft, including the well-known 4,000 mph X-15. He flew more than 200 different models of aircraft, including jets, rockets, helicopters and gliders. Armstrong transferred to astronaut status in 1962. He was assigned as command pilot for the Gemini 8 mission, launched on March 16, 1966, and performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space. As spacecraft commander for Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, Armstrong gained the distinction of being the first man to land a craft on the moon and first to step on its surface.
M. Scott Carpenter
Born: May 1, 1925, Boulder, Colorado Died: Oct. 10, 2013, Denver NASA experience: First human ever to penetrate both inner and outer space, thereby acquiring the dual title astronaut/aquanaut. Carpenter was selected as one of the original seven Mercury astronauts on April 9, 1959. He underwent intensive training with NASA, specializing in communication and navigation. He served as backup pilot for John Glenn during the preparation for America’s first manned orbital space flight in February 1962. Carpenter flew the second American manned orbital flight on May 24, 1962. He piloted his Aurora 7 spacecraft through three revolutions of the Earth, reaching a maximum altitude of 164 miles. Military experience: Carpenter was commissioned in the U.S. Navy in 1949. He was given flight training at Pensacola, Florida, and Corpus Christi, Texas, and designated a Naval aviator in April 1951. During the Korean War he served with patrol Squadron Six, flying missions in the Yellow Sea, South China Sea and the Formosa Straits. He attended the Navy Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, in 1954 and was subsequently assigned to the Electronics Test Division of the Naval Air Test Center, also at Patuxent. From 1957 to 1959 he attended the Navy General Line School and the Navy Air Intelligence School and was then assigned as Air Intelligence Officer to the aircraft carrier USS Hornet.
Alan L. Bean
Born: March 15, 1932, Wheeler, Texas Died: May 26, 2018, Houston NASA experience: Bean was one of the third group of astronauts named by NASA in October 1963. He served as backup astronaut for the Gemini 10 and Apollo 9 missions. Bean was lunar module pilot on Apollo 12, man’s second lunar landing. In November 1969, Bean and Capt. Pete Conrad landed in the moon’s Ocean of Storms. after a flight of some 250,000 miles. They explored the lunar surface, deployed several surface experiments and installed the first nuclear power generator station on the moon to provide the power source. Bean was spacecraft commander of Skylab Mission II (SL-3), July 29 to Sept. 25, 1973. On his next assignment, Bean was backup spacecraft commander of the United States flight crew for the joint AmericanRussian Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. Bean has logged 1,671 hours and 45 minutes in space, of which 10 hours and 26 minutes were spent in EVAs on the moon and in earth orbit. Military experience: Bean, a Navy ROTC Student at Texas, was commissioned upon graduation in 1955. After completing flight training, he was assigned to a jet attack squadron in Jacksonville, Florida. After a four-year tour of duty, he attended the Navy Test Pilot School, then flew as a test pilot on several types of naval aircraft.
Born: March 14, 1928, Gary, Indiana NASA experience: Borman led the first team of American astronauts to circle the moon. He is internationally known as commander of the 1968 Apollo 8 Mission. Military experience: A career Air Force officer from 1950, his assignments included service as a fighter pilot, an operational pilot and instructor, an experimental test pilot and an assistant professor of thermodynamics and fluid mechanics at West Point. When selected by NASA, Borman was instructor at the Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards AFB, California.
Born: Feb. 15, 1935, Grand Rapids, Michigan Died: Jan. 27, 1967, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida NASA experience: Chaffee was one of the third group of astronauts selected by NASA in October 1963. In addition to participating in the overall training program, he was tasked with working on flight control communications systems, instrumentation systems, and attitude and translation control systems in the Apollo Branch of the Astronaut office. On March 21, 1966, he was selected as one of the pilots for the AS-204 mission, the first three-man Apollo flight. Chaffee died in the Apollo spacecraft flash fire during a launch pad test. Military experience: Chaffee entered the Navy in 1957. He served as safety officer and quality control officer for Heavy Photographic Squadron 62 at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida. In January 1963, he entered the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to work on a Master of Science degree in reliability engineering. He logged more than 2,300 hours’ flying time, including more than 2,000 hours in jet aircraft.
Born: Oct. 31, 1930, Rome NASA experience: Collins was one of the third group of astronauts named by NASA in October 1963. He served as backup pilot for the Gemini VII mission. As pilot on the three-day Gemini X mission, launched July 18, 1966, Collins shared with command pilot John Young in the accomplishments of that record-setting flight. Collins served as command module pilot on Apollo 11, July 16-24, 1969, the first lunar landing mission. He remained aboard the command module, “Columbia,” on station in lunar orbit while Neil Armstrong, spacecraft commander, and Edwin Aldrin, lunar module pilot, descended to the surface in their lunar module “Eagle.” Collins completed two space flights, logging 266 hours in space, of which 1 hour and 27 minutes was spent in EVA. Military experience: Collins chose an Air Force career after graduation from West Point. He served as an experimental flight test officer at the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California, and, in that capacity, tested performance and stability and control characteristics of Air Force aircraft, primarily jet fighters. He has logged approximately 5,000 hours’ flying time.
for Gemini 12 and as backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 7. On his second space flight, he was lunar module pilot of Apollo 10, May 18-26, 1969, the first comprehensive lunar-orbital qualification and verification flight test of an Apollo lunar module. Cernan’s next assignment was backup spacecraft commander for Apollo 14. He made his third space flight as spacecraft commander of Apollo 17 — the last scheduled manned mission to the moon for the United States — Dec. 6-19, 1972. This last mission to the moon established several new records for manned space flight that include: longest manned lunar landing flight (301 hours, 51 minutes); longest lunar surface extravehicular activities (22 hours, 6 minutes); largest lunar sample return (an estimated 115 kg / 249 pounds); and longest time in lunar orbit (147 hours, 48 minutes). Cernan logged 566
hours and 15 minutes in space, of which more than 73 hours were spent on the surface of the moon. Cernan was the second American to have walked in space, having spanned the circumference of the world twice in a little more than 2 1/2 hours. He was one of the two men to have flown to the moon on two occasions, and as commander of the last mission to the moon, Apollo 17, had the privilege and distinction of being the last man to have left his footprints on the surface of the moon. Military experience: Received his commission through the Navy ROTC Program at Purdue University, Indiana. He entered flight training upon graduation. He was assigned to Attack Squadrons 26 and 112 at the Miramar, California, Naval Air Station, and subsequently attended the Naval Postgraduate School. He logged more than 5,000 hours’ flying time with more than 4,800 hours in jet aircraft and over 200 jet aircraft carrier landings.
Born: March 14, 1934, Chicago Died: Jan. 16, 2017, Houston NASA experience: Cernan was one of 14 astronauts selected by NASA in October 1963. He occupied the pilot seat alongside command pilot Tom Stafford on the Gemini IX mission. During this threeday flight that began on June 3, 1966, the spacecraft achieved a circular orbit of 161 statute miles; the crew used three different techniques to effect rendezvous with the previously launched Augmented Target Docking Adapter; and Cernan, the second American to walk in space, logged 2 hours and 10 minutes outside the spacecraft in extravehicular activities. The flight ended after 72 hours and 20 minutes with a perfect re-entry and recovery. Cernan subsequently served as backup pilot
Charles ‘Pete’ Conrad
L. Gordon Cooper
Born: June 2, 1930, Philadelphia Died: July 8, 1999, Ojai, California NASA experience: In September 1962, Conrad was selected as an astronaut by NASA. His first flight was Gemini V, which established the space endurance record and placed the United States in the lead for man-hours in space. As commander of Gemini XI, Conrad helped to set a world’s altitude record. He then served as commander of Apollo XII, the second lunar landing. On Conrad’s final mission, he served as commander of Skylab II, the first United States Space Station. Military experience: After graduation from Princeton University in 1953, Conrad entered the Navy and became an aviator. He then attended the Navy Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, where he was assigned as a project test pilot. Conrad also served as a flight instructor and performance engineer at the school. After completing his tour of duty at Patuxent River, he served as instructor pilot in F4H Phantoms on VF-121 and was then assigned duty in VF-96 on board USS Ranger.
Born: March 6, 1927, Shawnee, Oklahoma Died: Oct. 4, 2004, Ventura, California NASA experience: Cooper was selected as a Mercury astronaut in April 1959. On May 15-16, 1963, he piloted the Faith 7 spacecraft on a 22-orbit mission that concluded the operational phase of Project Mercury. Cooper served as command pilot of the eight-day 120-revolution Gemini 5 mission, which began Aug. 21, 1965. It was on this flight that he and pilot Charles Conrad established a new space endurance record by traveling a distance of 3,312,993 miles in an elapsed time of 190 hours and 56 minutes. Cooper also became the first man to make a second orbital flight and thus won for the United States the lead in man-hours in space by accumulating a total of 225 hours and 15 minutes. He served as backup command pilot for Gemini 12 and as backup commander for Apollo X. Cooper logged 222 hours in space. Military experience: Cooper, an Air Force colonel, received an Army commission after completing three years of schooling at the University of Hawaii. He transferred his commission to the Air Force and was placed on active duty by that service in 1949 and given flight training. His next assignment was with the 86th Fighter Bomber Group in Munich, Germany, where he flew F-84s and F-86s for four years. While in Munich, he attended the European Extension of the University of Maryland night school. He returned to the United States and, after two years of study at AFIT, received his degree. He then reported to the Air Force Experimental Flight Test School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and, upon graduating in 1957, was assigned as an aeronautical engineer and test pilot in the Performance Engineering Branch of the Flight Test Division at Edwards. He logged more than 7,000 hours’ flying time — 4,000 hours in jet aircraft.
Born: March 16, 1932, Creston, Iowa NASA experience: Selected by NASA in 1963, Cunningham was a member of NASA’s third astronaut class. Before his assignment to the Apollo 7 crew, Cunningham was on the prime crew for Apollo 2 until it was cancelled and the backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 1. On Oct. 11, 1968, Cunningham piloted the 11-day flight of Apollo 7, the first manned flight test of the third-generation U.S. spacecraft. With Walter M. Schirra Jr. and Donn F. Eisele, Cunningham participated in and executed maneuvers enabling the crew to perform exercises in transposition, docking and lunar orbit rendezvous with the S-IVB stage of their Saturn IB launch vehicle, and provided the first live television transmission of onboard crew activities. The 263-hour, 4.5 million-mile flight was successfully concluded Oct. 22, 1968, with splashdown in the Atlantic. Apollo 7 established a world record for greatest mass lifted into orbit and remains the longest, most successful first test flight of any new flying machine.
Donn F. Eisele
Born: June 23, 1930, Columbus, Ohio Died: Dec. 2, 1987, Tokyo NASA experience: Eisele was one of the third group of astronauts selected by NASA in October 1963. On Oct. 11, 1968, he occupied the command module pilot seat for the 11-day flight of Apollo VII, the first manned flight test of the third generation United States spacecraft. He served as backup command module pilot for the Apollo X flight. Eisele logged 260 hours in space. Military 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.
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Virgil I. ‘Gus’ Grissom
Born: April 3, 1926, Mitchell, Indiana Died: Jan. 27, 1967, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida NASA experience: Grissom was one of the seven Mercury astronauts selected by NASA in April 1959. He piloted the Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft — the second and final suborbital Mercury test flight — on July 21, 1961. This flight lasted 15 minutes and 37 seconds, attained an altitude of 118 statute miles, and traveled 302 miles downrange from the launch pad at Cape Kennedy. On March 23, 1965, he served as command pilot on the first manned Gemini flight, A three-orbit mission during which the crew accomplished the first orbital trajectory modifications and the first lifting reentry of a manned spacecraft. Subsequent to this assignment, he served as backup command pilot for Gemini 6. Grissom was named to serve as command pilot for the AS-204 mission, the first three-man Apollo flight. Grissom died in the Apollo spacecraft flash fire during a launch pad test. Military experience: Grissom, an Air Force lieutenant colonel, received his wings in March 1951. He flew 100 combat missions in Korea in F-86s with the 334th Fighter Interceptor Squadron and, upon returning to the United States in 1952, became a jet instructor at Bryan, Texas. In August 1955, he entered the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to study aeronautical engineering. He attended the Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in October 1956 and returned to WrightPatterson in May 1957 as a test pilot assigned to the fighter branch. He logged 4,600 hours’ flying time, 3,500 hours in jet aircraft.
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John H. Glenn Jr.
Born: July 18, 1921, Cambridge, Ohio Died: Dec. 8, 2016, Columbus, Ohio NASA experience: Glenn was assigned to the NASA Space Task Group at Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, in April 1959 after his selection as a Project Mercury astronaut. The Space Task Group was moved to Houston and became part of the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center in 1962. Glenn flew on Mercury-6 (Feb. 20, 1962) and STS-95 (Oct. 29 to Nov. 7, 1998), and logged over 218 hours in space. Before his first flight, Glenn had served as backup pilot for Astronauts Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom. When astronauts were given special assignments to ensure pilot input into the design and development of spacecraft, Glenn specialized in cockpit layout and control functioning, including some of the early designs for the Apollo Project. On Feb. 20, 1962, Glenn piloted the Mercury-Atlas 6 Friendship 7 spacecraft on the first manned orbital mission of the United States. Launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, he completed a successful three-orbit mission
Born: Oct. 5, 1929, Seattle Died: Nov. 6, 2017, San Marcos, California NASA experience: Gordon was one of the third group of astronauts named by NASA in October 1963. He served as backup pilot for the Gemini 8 flight. On Sept. 12, 1966, he served as pilot for the three-day Gemini XI mission, on which rendezvous with an Agena was achieved in less than one orbit. Gordon was subsequently assigned as backup command pilot for Apollo 9. He occupied the command module pilot seat on Apollo 12, Nov. 14-24, 1969. Throughout the 31-hour lunar surface stay, Gordon remained in orbit aboard the command module “Yankee Clipper,” obtaining desired mapping photographs of tentative landing sites for future missions. Gordon completed two space flights, logging a total of 315 hours, 53 minutes in space — 2 hours, 44 minutes of which were spent in EVA. He served as backup spacecraft commander for Apollo 15. Military experience: Gordon, a Navy Ccaptain, received his wings as a naval aviator in 1953. He then attended All-Weather Flight School and jet transitional training and was assigned to an all-weather fighter squadron at the Naval Air Station at Jacksonville, Florida. In 1957, he attended the Navy’s Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, and served as a flight test pilot until 1960. During this tour of duty, he did flight test work on the F8U Crusader, F11F Tigercat, FJ Fury and A4D Skyhawk, and was the first project test pilot for the F4H Phantom II. He served with Fighter Squadron 121 at the Miramar, California, Naval Air Station as a flight instructor in the F4H and participated in the introduction of that aircraft to the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. He was also flight safety officer, assistant operations officer and ground training officer for Fighter Squadron 96 at Miramar. Winner of the Bendix Trophy Race from Los Angeles to New York in May 1961, he established a new speed record of 869.74 miles per hour and a transcontinental speed record of 2 hours, 47 minutes. He logged more that 4,500 hours’ flying time, 3,500 hours in jet aircraft.
around the Earth, reaching a maximum altitude (apogee) of approximately 162 statute miles and an orbital velocity of approximately 17,500 miles per hour. Mission duration from launch to impact was 4 hours, 55 minutes, 23 seconds. STS-95 Discovery (Oct. 29 to Nov. 7, 1998) was a nine-day mission during which the crew supported a variety of research payloads including deployment of the Spartan solar-observing spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope Orbital Systems Test Platform, and investigations on space flight and the aging process. The mission was accomplished in 134 Earth orbits, traveling 3.6 million miles in 213 hours, 44 minutes. Military experience: He entered the Naval Aviation Cadet Program in March 1942 and was graduated from this program and commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1943. After advanced training, he joined Marine Fighter Squadron 155 and spent a year flying F-4U fighters in the Marshall Islands. During his World War II service, he flew 59 combat missions. After the war, he was a member of Marine Fighter Squadron 218 on the North
China patrol and served on Guam. From June 1948 to December 1950 Glenn was an instructor in advanced flight training at Corpus Christi, Texas. He then attended Amphibious Warfare Training at Quantico, Virginia. In Korea he flew 63 missions with Marine Fighter Squadron 311. As an exchange pilot with the Air Force Glenn flew 27 missions in the in F-86 Sabrejet. In the last nine days of fighting in Korea Glenn downed three MIGs in combat along the Yalu River. After Korea, Glenn attended Test Pilot School at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland. After graduation, he was project officer on a number of aircraft. He was assigned to the Fighter Design Branch of the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics (now Bureau of Naval Weapons) in Washington from November 1956 to April 1959, during which time he also attended the University of Maryland. In July 1957, while project officer of the F8U Crusader, he set a transcontinental speed record from Los Angeles to New York, spanning the country in 3 hours, 23 minutes. This was the first transcontinental flight to average supersonic speed. Glenn has nearly 9,000 hours of flying time, with approximately 3,000 hours in jet aircraft.
Fred W. Haise Jr.
Born: Nov. 14, 1933, Biloxi, Mississippi NASA experience: Haise was a research pilot at the NASA Flight Research Center at Edwards, California, before coming to Houston and the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, and from September 1959 to March 1963 he was a research pilot at the NASA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Haise was one of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. He served as backup lunar module pilot for the Apollo 8 and 11 missions, and backup spacecraft commander for the Apollo 16 mission. Haise was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 13 (April 11-17, 1970) and has logged 142 hours and 54 minutes in space. Apollo 13 was scheduled for a 10-day mission for the first landing in the hilly, upland Fra Mauro region of the moon. The original flight plan, however, was modified en route to the moon due to a failure of the service module cryogenic oxygen system which occurred approximately 55 hours into the flight. Haise and fellow crewmen James A. Lovell (spacecraft commander) and John L. Swigert (command module pilot), working closely with Houston ground controllers, converted their lunar module “Aquarius” into an effective lifeboat. Their emergency activation and operation of lunar module systems conserved electrical power and water in sufficient supply to assure their safety and survival while in space and for the return to Earth. Military experience: His military career began in October 1952 as a Naval Aviation Cadet at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. He was the Aerospace Research Pilot School’s outstanding graduate of Class 64A and served with the U.S. Air Force from October 1961 to August 1962 as a tactical fighter pilot and as chief of the 164th Standardization-Evaluation Flight of the 164th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Mansfield, Ohio. From March 1957 to September 1959, Haise was a fighter interceptor pilot with the 185th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in the Oklahoma Air National Guard. He also served as a tactics and all weather flight instructor in the U.S. Navy Advanced Training Command at NAAS Kingsville, Texas, and was assigned as a U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot to VMF-533 and 114 at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, from March 1954 to September 1956. Haise has accumulated 9,300 hours’ flying time, including 6,200 hours in jets.
James A. Lovell
Born: March 25, 1928, Cleveland NASA experience: Lovell was selected as an astronaut by NASA in September 1962. He served as backup pilot for the Gemini 4 flight and backup commander for the Gemini 9 flight, as well as backup commander to Neil Armstrong for the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. On Dec. 4, 1965, he and Frank Borman were launched into space on the history-making Gemini 7 mission. The flight lasted 330 hours, 35 minutes and included the first rendezvous of two manned maneuverable spacecraft. The Gemini 12 mission, commanded by Lovell with pilot Edwin Aldrin, began Nov. 11, 1966. This four-day, 59-revolution flight brought the Gemini program to a successful close. Lovell served as command module pilot and navigator on the epic six-day journey of Apollo 8, man’s maiden voyage to the moon, Dec. 21-27, 1968. Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to be lifted into near-Earth orbit by a 7 1/2 million pound thrust Saturn V launch vehicle; and Lovell and fellow crewmen Frank Borman and William A. Anders became the first humans to leave the Earth’s gravitational influence. He completed his fourth mission as spacecraft commander of the Apollo 13 flight, April 11-17, 1970, and became the first man to journey twice to the moon. Lovell held the record for time in space with a total of 715 hours, 5 minutes until surpassed by the Skylab flights. Military experience: During his Naval career he has had numerous aviator assignments, including a 4-year tour as a test pilot at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland. While there he served as Program Manager for the F4H “Phantom” Fighter. A graduate of the Aviation Safety School of the University of Southern California, he also served as Safety Engineer with the Fighter Squadron 101 at the Naval Air Station, Oceana, Virginia. He has logged more than 7,000 hours flying time —more than 3,500 hours in jet aircraft. JULY 2019
James A. McDivitt
Born: June 10, 1929, Chicago NASA experience: McDivitt was selected as an astronaut by NASA in September 1962. He was command pilot for Gemini 4, a 66-orbit four-day mission June 3-7, 1965. He was commander of Apollo 9, a 10-day Earth-orbital flight launched on March 3, 1969. This was the first flight of the complete set of Apollo hardware and was the first flight of the lunar module. Military experience: McDivitt joined the Air Force in 1951 and retired with the rank of Brig. General. He flew 145 combat missions during the Korean War in F-80s and F-86s. He is a graduate of the USAF Experimental Test Pilot School and the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot course and served as an experimental test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base, California. He has logged over 5,000 flying hours.
Walter M. Schirra Jr.
Born: March 12, 1923, Hackensack, New Jersey Died: May 2, 2007, La Jolla, California NASA experience: Schirra was one of the seven Mercury Astronauts named by NASA in April 1959. On Oct. 3, 1962; he piloted the six-orbit Sigma 7 Mercury flight, which lasted 9 hours, 15 minutes. Schirra next served as backup command pilot for the Gemini III mission, and on Dec. 15-16 occupied the command pilot seat on the history-making Gemini 6 flight. The highlight of this mission was a successful rendezvous of Gemini 6 with the already-orbiting Gemini 7 spacecraft, accomplishing the first rendezvous of two manned maneuverable spacecraft and establishing another space first for the United States. Schirra remained in the spacecraft after his Mercury and Gemini flight and is the first astronaut to be brought aboard recovery ships twice in this manner. He was the command pilot on Apollo VII, the first manned flight test of the three-direction United States spacecraft. Schirra logged a total of 295 hours, 15 minutes in space. He is unique in that he is the only astronaut to have flown Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.
Russell L. Schweickart
Born: Oct. 25, 1935, Neptune, New Jersey NASA experience: Schweickart joined NASA as one of 14 astronauts named in October 1963, the third group selected. He served as lunar module pilot for Apollo 9, March 3-13, 1969, logging 241 hours in space. This was the third manned flight of the Apollo series and the first manned flight of the lunar module. During a 46-minute EVA Schweickart tested the portable life support backpack which was subsequently used on the lunar surface explorations. Schweickart served as backup commander for the first Skylab mission, which flew in spring 1973. After the loss of the thermal shield during the launch of the Skylab vehicle, he assumed responsibility for the development of hardware and procedures associated with erecting the emergency solar shade and deployment of the jammed solar array wing, operations which transformed Skylab from an imminent disaster to a highly successful program. He received the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Special Trustees Award (Emmy) in 1969 for transmitting the first live TV pictures from space. Military experience: Schweickart served as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force and the Massachusetts Air National Guard from 1956 to 1963. He has logged over 4,000 hours of flight time, including 3,500 hours in high-performance jet aircraft.
Born: June 6, 1932, San Antonio NASA experience: Scott was one of the third group of astronauts named by NASA in October 1963. On March 16, 1966, he and command pilot Neil Armstrong were launched into space on the Gemini 8 mission, a flight originally scheduled to last three days but terminated early due to a malfunctioning thruster. The crew performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space and demonstrated great piloting skill in overcoming the thruster problem and bringing the spacecraft to a safe landing. Scott served as command module pilot for Apollo 9, March 3-13, 1969. This was the third manned flight in the Apollo series, the second to be launched by a Saturn V, and the first to complete a comprehensive Earth-orbital qualification and verification test of a “fully configured Apollo spacecraft.” In his next assignment, Scott was designated backup spacecraft commander for Apollo 12. He made his third space flight as spacecraft commander of Apollo 15, July 26 to Aug. 7, 1971. His companions on the flight were Alfred M. Worden (command module pilot) and James B. Irwin (lunar module pilot). Apollo 15 was the fourth manned lunar landing mission and the first to visit and explore the moon’s Hadley Rille and Apennine Mountains, located on the southeast edge of the Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains). The lunar module “Falcon” remained on the surface for 66 hours and 54 minutes, setting a new record for lunar surface stay time, and Scott and Irwin logged 18 hours and 35 minutes each in extravehicular activities conducted during three excursions onto the lunar surface. He has logged 546 hours and 54 minutes in space, of which 20 hours and 46 minutes were in extravehicular activity. He is only one of three astronauts who have flown both Earth-orbital and lunar Apollo missions. Military experience: Scott graduated fifth in a class of 633 at West Point and chose an Air Force career. He completed pilot training at Webb Air Force Base, Texas, in 1955 and reported for gunnery training at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, and Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. He was assigned to the 32d Tactical Fighter squadron at Soesterberg Air Base, Netherlands, from April 1956 to July 1960. Upon completing this tour of duty, he returned to he United States for study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He retired from the Air Force in March 1975 with the rank of Colonel and over 5,600 hours of flying time.
Alan B. Shepard Jr.
Born: Nov. 18, 1923, East Derry, New Hampshire Died: July 21, 1998, Pebble Beach, California NASA experience: Shepard was one of the Mercury astronauts named by NASA in April 1959, and he holds the distinction of being the first American to journey into space. On May 5, 1961, in the Freedom 7 spacecraft, he was launched by a Redstone vehicle on a ballistic trajectory suborbital flight, which carried him to an altitude of 116 statute miles. In 1963, he was designated chief of the Astronaut Office with responsibility for monitoring the coordination, scheduling and control of all activities involving NASA astronauts. He was restored to full flight status in May 1969, after corrective surgery for an inner ear disorder. Shepard made his second space flight as spacecraft commander on Apollo 14, Jan. 31-Feb. 9, 1971. He was accompanied on man’s third lunar landing mission by Stuart A. Roosa, command module pilot, and Edgar D. Mitchell, lunar module pilot. Shepard logged a total of 216 hours and 57 minutes in space, of which 9 hours and 17 minutes were spent in lunar surface EVA. Military experience: Shepard began his naval career, after graduation from Annapolis, on the destroyer Cogswell, deployed in the pacific during World War II. He subsequently entered flight training at Corpus Christi, Texas, and Pensacola, Florida, and received his wings in 1947. His next assignment was with Fighter Squadron 42 at Norfolk, Virginia, and Jacksonville, Florida. He served several tours aboard aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean while with this squadron. In 1950, he attended the United States Navy Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland. After graduation, he participated in flight test work that included high-altitude tests; and test and development experiments of the Navy’s in-flight refueling system, carrier suitability trails of the F2H3 Banshee, and Navy trials of the first angled carrier deck. He was subsequently assigned to Fighter Squadron 193 at Moffett Field, California, a night fighter unit flying Banshee jets. As operations officer of this squadron, he made two tours to the Western pacific onboard the carrier Oriskany. He returned to Patuxent for a second tour of duty and engaged in flight testing the F3H Demon, F8U Crusader, F4D Skyray and F11F Tigercat. He was also project test pilot on the F5D Skylancer, and his last five months at Patuxent were spent as an instructor in the Test Pilot School. He later attended the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, and upon graduating in 1957 was assigned to the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, as aircraft readiness officer. He logged more than 8,000 hours’ flying time, 3,700 hours in jet aircraft. the testing of fighter aircraft built for the United States Air Force and some foreign countries. He logged more than 6,600 hours’ flying time, including 5,100 hours in jet aircraft.
John L. ‘Jack’ Swigert Jr.
Born: Aug. 30, 1931, Denver Died: Dec. 27, 1982, Washington, D.C. NASA experience: Swigert was one of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. He served as a member of the astronaut support crew for the Apollo 7 mission. Swigert was next assigned to the Apollo 13 backup crew and subsequently called upon to replace prime crewman Thomas K. Mattingly as command module pilot. In completing his first space flight, Swigert logged a total of 142 hours, 54 minutes. Military experience: He served with the Air Force from 1953 to 1956 and, upon graduation from the Pilot Training Program and Gunnery School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, was assigned as a fighter pilot in Japan and Korea. After completing his tour of active duty in the military services, he served as a jet fighter pilot with Massachusetts Air National Guard from September 1957 to March 1960 and as a member of the Connecticut Air National Guard from April 1960 to October 1965. He logged 7,200 hours’ flight, which includes more than 5,725 in jet aircraft.
Thomas P. Stafford
Born: Sept. 17, 1930, Weatherford, Oklahoma NASA experience: 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 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. Stafford was commander of Apollo 10 in May 1969, first flight of the lunar module to the moon, and descended to 9 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. Stafford was cited in the Guinness Book of World Records for highest speed ever attained by man that occurred during Apollo 10 re-entry 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. Military experience: 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.
Edward H. White II
Born: Nov. 14, 1930, San Antonio Died: Jan. 27, 1967, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida NASA experience: White was named as a member of the astronaut team selected by NASA in September 1962. He was pilot for Gemini 4, a 66-revolution, four-day mission June 3-7, 1965. During the third revolution, he carried out the first extra vehicular activity in the United States manned space flight program. He was outside Gemini 4 for 21 minutes, and became the first man to control himself in space during EVA with a maneuvering unit. On March 21, 1966, he was named as one of the pilots of the AS-204 mission, the first three-man Apollo flight. Military experience: White, an Air Force lieutenant colonel, received flight training in Florida and Texas after his graduation from West Point. He then spent 3 1/2 years in Germany with a fighter squadron, flying F-86s and F-100s. He attended the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in 1959. White was later assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as an experimental test pilot with the Aeronautical Systems Division. He logged more than 3,000 hours’ flying time, including more than 2,200 hours in jet aircraft.
The prime crew of the Apollo 10 lunar orbit mission at the Kennedy Space Center, from left to right: lunar module pilot Eugene A. Cernan, Commander Thomas P. Stafford and command module pilot John W. Young.
John W. Young
space flight crews: Gemini 6, the second Apollo mission (before the Apollo Program fire) and Apollo 7, 13 and 17. In preparation for prime and backup crew positions on 11 space flights, Young put more than 15,000 hours into training, mostly in simulators and simulations. He logged more than 15,275 hours’ flying time in props, jets, helicopters and rocket jets, more than 9,200 hours in T-38s, and six space flights of 835 hours. Military experience: Upon graduation from Georgia Tech, Young entered the United States Navy. After serving on the West Coast destroyer USS Laws (DD-558) in the Korean War, he was sent to flight training. He was then assigned to Fighter Squadron 103 for four years, flying Cougars and Crusaders. After test pilot training at the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School in 1959, he was assigned to the Naval Air Test Center for three years. His test projects included evaluations of the Crusader and Phantom fighter weapons systems. In 1962, he set world time-toclimb records to 3,000-meter and 25,000-meter altitudes in the Phantom. Before reporting to NASA, he was maintenance officer of Phantom Fighter Squadron 143.
Donald K. Slayton
Born: March 1, 1924, Sparta, Wisconsin Died: June 13, 1993, League City, Texas NASA experience: 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. Slayton was restored to full flight status and certified eligible for manned space flights in March 1972, after a comprehensive review of his medical status. Slayton made his first space flight as Apollo docking module pilot of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission, July 15-24, 1975, a joint space flight culminating in the first historical meeting in space between American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts. Slayton logged 217 hours, 28 minutes in his first space flight. Military experience: 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 after the end of the war and 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 logged more than 6,600 hours’ flying time, including 5,100 hours in jet aircraft.
Born: Sept. 24, 1930, San Francisco Died: Jan. 5, 2018, Houston NASA experience: In September 1962, Young was selected as an astronaut. He is the first person to fly in space six times from Earth, and seven times counting his lunar liftoff. The first flight was with Gus Grissom in Gemini 3, the first manned Gemini mission, March 23, 1965. On Gemini 10, July 18-21, 1966, Young, as commander, and Mike Collins, as pilot, completed a dual rendezvous with two separate Agena target vehicles. On his third flight, May 18-26, 1969, Young was command module pilot of Apollo 10, which orbited the moon, completed a lunar rendezvous and tracked proposed lunar landing sites. His fourth space flight, Apollo 16, April 16-27, 1972, was a lunar exploration mission. Young’s fifth flight was as spacecraft commander of STS-1, the first flight of the space shuttle, April 12-14, 1981. The 54 1/2 hour, 36-orbit mission verified shuttle systems’ performance during launch, on orbit and on entry. Young’s sixth flight was as spacecraft commander of STS-9, the first Spacelab mission, Nov. 28-Dec. 8, 1983. Young was also on five backup
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