Crew Activities, 1968-1969

Crews for the early Apollo manned missions were named in 1966, but their assignments were canceled after the spacecraft fire in January 1967. Mission-specific training languished for a while, but in early May 1967 the crew of Apollo 7 was selected and began preparing for their earth-orbital mission. Deke Slayton, director of flight crew operations at MSC, expedited training by assigning a third group of astronauts (a support crew) to each flight. [see Appendix 6] The support crew assisted the prime and backup crews in training, doing a great deal of necessary but time-consuming work: maintaining the flight data file (flight plan, check lists, and mission ground rules); keeping the prime and backup crews advised of all changes; helping training officers to work out procedures on the simulators before the prime crews used them; and generally taking a load of details off the prime and backup crews.1 Experience and seniority appeared to be the major factors in Slayton's choice of crews. For the first three missions, prime and backup crews were chosen from the first three groups of pilots selected; all commanders had flight experience in Gemini. Support crewmen were all from the fourth group of pilots.2 The scientist-astronauts, who ranked fourth in seniority but last in experience, had varied assignments, participating in design reviews and preflight tests and working on plans for Apollo Applications experiments; geologist Jack Schmitt spent much of his time working on site selection.3

1. Courtney G. Brooks, James M. Grimwood, and Loyd S. Swenson, Jr., Chariots for Apollo: A History of Manned Lunar Spacecraft, NASA SP-4205 (Washington, 1979), p. 261.

2. Ibid., pp. 261-62.

3. Interview with Joseph P. Kerwin, Jr., Mar. 29, 1985; interview with John R. Sevier, Apr. 24, 1986.

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