The successful Apollo 7 flight cleared the way for a US moon landing in 1969. Still a lot of flight and ground testing remained and there would probably be surprises. The greatest concern was Nasa had to complete three virtually flawless missions and achieve every major test objective before a lunar landing could be attempted. The odds seemed to be stack against NASA.
“Some of those guys came in figuring, “I’ll write my textbooks and my thesis and teach [university courses] and I’ll come by twice a week and be an astronaut.” Well, that didn’t work …. We were devoting our lives to this whole thing, and you couldn’t devote anything less, I don’t care what your discipline was.”
With Group 4, for the first time, the selection criteria did not include a requirement for test pilot proficiency. Selectees who were not qualified pilots would be assigned to the Air Force for a year of flight training. The primary scientific requirement was a doctorate in medicine, engineering, or one of the natural sciences.
Deputy Administrator Seamans wanted a mission review board created to study:
(1) Corrective measures for the Atlas-Agena failure
(2) The guidance update problem that delayed the launch two days
(3) The shroud incident
(4) The suit environmental control difficulties
After the untimely deaths of Elliot See and Charles Basset, NASA assigned the Gemini IX prime crew positions to Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan. This was the first time in NASA’s manned space flight history that a backup crew had taken over a mission. The capsule was renamed Gemini IX-A…
In October 1965, Elliot M. See and Charles A. Bassett II were selected to fly Gemini IX. Chief Astronaut Deke Slayton also told them that their backups would be Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan. At that time Stafford was copilot for Gemini VI…