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"Wally, Walt and What's-His-Name" : Command Module Pilots of the Apollo Program

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Sessions, Jennifer R.
Oberly, James Warren, 1954-
Jul 14, 2009
Collins, Michael, 1930-; Lovell, Jim; Worden, Alfred Merrill; Astronauts--United States--Biography; Project Apollo (U.S.); Space flight to the moon--History; Lunar geology--Research; Moon--Orbit
Often considered to be akin to fourth place in the Olympics, the role of Command Module Pilots in the Apollo program of maintaining lunar orbit while the other two astronauts landed and explored the lunar surface, is more captivating and noteworthy a role than expected. This paper examines the roles and duties carried out by Command Module Pilots generally, both while on a mission and on the ground, from the specialized training they underwent in order to be able to return from the moon alone, and the geologic training they received in order to do surveying from orbit, to operating as the voices that their fellow pilots heard, translating and mediating between the astronauts in space, and the command center in Houston. This paper looks at the decision at NASA that created the job, the spacecraft Command Module Pilots flew, and the careers of three Command Module Pilots: Apollo 11's Michael Collins, who is arguably the most famous of this group; James Lovell Command Module Pilot of Apollo 8, a career astronaut, and for a long time the most traveled human being; and Alfred Worden, as the Command Module Pilot for Apollo 15, the first mission to have a much larger science focus. Command Module Pilots' mission at the moon was very different from that of their colleagues who went to the surface, but their contributions to the study of spaceflight, and the geology of the moon should not be marginalized.
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