NAME: Donn F. Eisele
BIRTHPLACE AND DATE: Eisele was born June 23, 1930, in Columbus, Ohio.
EDUCATION: Eisele received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautics from the U.S. Naval Academy and a Master of Science degree in aeronautics from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology.
EXPERIENCE: After graduation Eisele entered the Air Force. He flew jet fighters and became a test pilot, advancing to the rank of colonel.
NASA selected Eisele as an astronaut in October 1963. On October 11, 1968, he, Commander Walter Schirra and Lunar Module pilot Walt Cunningham were launched aboard Apollo 7 - the first flight test of the redesigned Apollo after the first crew died in the Apollo 1 launch pad fire on January 27, 1967. The flight was a complete success and provided NASA with confidence to send the next Apollo crew, into orbit around the moon. However the crew suffered head colds and had numerous arguments with ground controllers. NASA management secretly decided that none of them would be allowed to fly in space again.
In 1972, Eisele retired from the Air Force and left NASA to become director of the U.S. Peace Corps in Thailand. He later became sales manager for Marion Power Shovel Company and then handled private and corporate accounts for the investment firm of Oppenheimer and Company. Eisele died of a heart attack on December 2, 1987, in Tokyo, Japan.
The first manned flight of the Apollo CSM, the Apollo C category mission, was planned for the last quarter of 1966. Numerous problems with the Apollo Block I spacecraft resulted in a flight delay to February 1967. The crew of Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee, was killed in a fire while testing their capsule on the pad on 27 January 1967, still weeks away from launch. The designation AS-204 was used by NASA for the flight at the time; the designation Apollo 1 was applied retroactively at the request of Grissom's widow.
It was originally planned to make a second solo flight test of the Block I Apollo CSM on a Saturn IB. This flight was referred to by everyone outside of the astronaut office as AS-205 or CSM-014. This flight was finally seen as unnecessary; the decision to cancel it came on November 16 and was officially announced on December 22, 1966; the Schirra crew instead became, briefly, the backup crew to Apollo 1 (replacing the original backup crew of McDivitt, Scott, Schweickart). After the Apollo 1 fire on January 27, 1967, the Schirra crew was assigned to Apollo 7, the first manned flight test of the new Block II Apollo CSM-101.
Apollo 7 (AS-205), the first manned Apollo flight, lifted off from Launch Complex 34 at Cape Kennedy Oct. 11, carrying Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Donn F. Eisele, and R. Walter Cunningham. The countdown had proceeded smoothly, with only a slight delay because of additional time required to chill the hydrogen system in the S-IVB stage of the Saturn launch vehicle. Liftoff came at 11:03 a.m. EDT. Shortly after insertion into orbit, the S-IVB stage separated from the CSM, and Schirra and his crew performed a simulated docking with the S-IVB stage, maneuvering to within 1.2 meters of the rocket. Although spacecraft separation was normal, the crew reported that one adapter panel had not fully deployed. Two burns using the reaction control system separated the spacecraft and launch stage and set the stage for an orbital rendezvous maneuver, which the crew made on the second day of the flight, using the service propulsion engine.
Crew and spacecraft performed well throughout the mission. During eight burns of the service propulsion system during the flight, the engine functioned normally. October 14, third day of the mission, witnessed the first live television broadcast from a manned American spacecraft. The SPS engine was used to deorbit after 259 hours 39 minutes of flight. CM-SM separation and operation of the earth landing system were normal, and the spacecraft splashed down about 13 kilometers from the recovery ship (27.32 N 64.04 W), the U.S.S. Essex, at 7:11 a.m. EDT October 22. Although the vehicle initially settled in an apex-down ("stable 2") attitude, upright bags functioned normally and returned the CSM to an upright position in the water. Schirra, Eisele, and Cunningham were quickly picked up by a recovery helicopter and were safe aboard the recovery vessel less than an hour after splashdown.
All primary Apollo 7 mission objectives were met, as well as every detailed test objective (and three test objectives not originally planned). Engineering firsts from Apollo 7, aside from live television from space, included drinking water for the crew produced as a by-product of the fuel cells. Piloting and navigation accomplishments included an optical rendezvous, daylight platform realignment, and orbital determination via sextant tracking of another vehicle. All spacecraft systems performed satisfactorily. Minor anomalies were countered by backup systems or changes in procedures. With successful completion of the Apollo 7 mission, which proved out the design of the Block II CSM (CSM 101), NASA and the nation had taken the first step on the pathway to the moon.
Although the systems worked, the crew became grumpy with head colds and talked back to the ground. As a result, NASA management determined that none of them would fly again.
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 1:31 p.m. All primary mission objectives of evaluating performance and support and the detailed test objectives were achieved.