Flying Is Just Not My Cup of

The academic training programme for the second group of scientist-astronauts was implemented in October 1967, and was completed the following February.

The training schedule was aimed at developing a level of competence in each of the men across a variety of scientific and technical subjects relevant to the space programme. Experience gained in these subjects would also prove valuable in reinforcing in each of the scientists the scope of problems related to space flight. The selection of course material was critical, due to the overall diversity and level of academic background in the group, and two basic requirements were imposed: course matter involving the least repetition; and materials selection at a level of complexity and interest commensurate with the men's abilities and backgrounds.

Table 2. Group 6 Academic Training Programme October 1967-February 1968.

Following a similar format to the Group 4 academic and wilderness training (1966-7), this programme for the 1967 scientist-astronaut group (with Holmquest joining later) commenced on 2 October 1967. It started with a six-hour briefing on physiological training and was completed on 28 February 1967 with the final two-hour session on meteorology. In total, there were 333 hours of instruction, broken into separate sessions to cover various topics or fields. The basic academic course covered the following disciplines:

Academic courses

• Physiological Training 6 hours

• Space Sciences 28 hours

• Astronomy 23 hours

One of the instructors in this programme was Karl Henize, who covered the stellar and galactic astronomy fields.


Table 2 (cont.)

• Life Sciences

26 hours

• Earth Resources

22 hours

• Planetology

36 hours

The latter was a new course that was aimed at more in-depth training for future assignments as observers in the Earth Resources Program during AAP.

• Rocket Propulsion 8 hours

• Communications 10 hours

• Space Fight Dynamics 20 hours

Phil Chapman expressed some initial concerns over this programme when he first saw it. There did not seem to be a review of preliminary mathematics, which Chapman felt was essential for some of his colleagues, otherwise the instructor would have been forced to deliver at "too low a level to develop a sound understanding of the subject." Chapman suggested supporting the lectures with briefings on elementary classical mechanics "aimed at developing an understanding of the effects of gravity-gradient forces and of gyroscopic effects in rotational motion." This was important for understanding the dynamic effects observed inside the S-IVB workshop and understanding the use of the CMGs on the Apollo Telescope Mount during AAP missions, which at that time, the new group were expected to fly on.1


6 hours

CSM Familiarisation

18 hours

LM Familiarisation

12 hours

Mercury Project Briefing

2 hours

Gemini Project Briefing

4 hours

Apollo Mission Profiles

4 hours

MCC Operation

4 hours

AAP Mission Plans

4 hours

Additional notes in the Michel collection at Rice University indicate that AAP mission plans actually increased to fifteen hours and was delivered by AAP Branch Chief Astronaut Al Bean, AAP Branch assigned astronauts Jack Lousma, Bruce McCandless and Paul Weitz, and scientist-astronauts Owen Garriott and Ed Gibson. In addition, Jack Schmitt instructed the new astronauts on Advanced Lunar Exploration mission plans under AAP.

Recovery Operations 2 hours

CSM Systems Briefings 50 hours

LM Systems Briefings 25 hours

AAP Hardware 10 hours

Bioscience Training 16 hours

The latter was another new course of eight two-hour lectures, covering terrestrial biology, terrestrial ecology and exobiology. It was designed to provide basic information in bioscience disciplines, in particular, an "understanding of the complexities of microbial life forms [to] foster an appreciation for the relationships of micro flora to their environment." The most current data from the Biomedical Research Office was used to study the effects of space environments on microbial ecology and the possible resultant effects on the health of future Apollo crews.2

Tours and Visits (8 days)

• Morehead Planetarium (University of North Carolina); 2 days (12-14 November 1967).

• Launch operations, KSC, Florida; 2 days (22-24 January 1968).

• Launch vehicle familiarisation, Marshall Space Flight Center/Michoud Facility; 3 days (13-15 February 1968).

• Acceleration familiarisation, 1 day (27 February 1968).

Additional courses included briefings on the various lunar and planetary probes programmes (2 hours) and the Soviet space programme (2 hours).3

Survival Training

This was attended by Allen, Chapman, England, Henize, Holmquest, Lenoir, Musgrave and Parker. Thornton never completed survival training due to delays in his qualification from flight school.

• Desert - Fairchild AFB, Spokane, Washington. The actual site was in the Oregon desert just south of Pasco in Washington State; summer 1969.

• Jungle - Albrook AFB, Panama Canal Zone. The site was near the Chagres River; Three days of instruction and two days of field exercises, 25-29 August 1969.4

Joe Allen recalls this period more for what happened when he came home after a week in the jungle. Even after several showers, the smell of the tropics lingered and his wife demanded that before Allen was allowed back into the house, all his clothes, bags and mementoes from the trip had to be left outside, thrown away or burnt. Even the family cat took swipes at him with its paw from the top of the refrigerator for some days. Allen was relieved that he had only had to endure this challenging part of astronaut training once ... and so was his wife.5

• Water survival - at Perrin AFB, Texas, during the summer of 1969

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