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
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.
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.
Elliot See and Charlie Bassett were the prime crew for Gemini 9. On February 28, 1966, they were flying in NASA T-38 trainers to visit the McDonnell plant in St Louis, where their spacecraft was in assembly. Bassett misjudged his landing approach, and in pulling up from the runway hit Building 101 where the spacecraft was being assembled. See, following in on Bassett's tail, followed in, and also hit the building. 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 within a mile of the primary recovery ship, the aircraft carrier Wasp. The crew remained with the spacecraft, which was hoisted aboard 53 minutes after landing.
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.
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. CSM-101 instead would be used to accomplish the Apollo C mission that Grissom's crew was to have flown.
When Schirra's Apollo 2 / AS-205 mission was cancelled in November 1966, the booster went to McDivitt's mission, and it was called AS (or Apollo) 205/208, or AS-258 (before Schirra's cancellation, McDivitt's was AS-278, because it used Saturn IB boosters 207 and 208).
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.
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 splashed down about 7,300 meters from the recovery ship New Orleans. 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.