Who is Your Favorite Apollo Astronaut?

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Great idea to start a whole new category dedicated to the 40th anniversary of mankind’s greatest accomplishment (IMHO). I only hope it generates interest from more than two or three people. I expect this anniversary to go by largely un-noticed by the MSM, no one seems to care about moonlandings anymore, except maybe by the wackos who say they were faked. I hope I am wrong about this however, I would love to see some really good anniversary events take place around the country.

In the spirit of Jim48's infamous what is your favorite <blank> threads, I thought it would be appropriate to start this thread. I will start by saying that I have two favs: Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan, (followed closely by John Young.) But Armstrong and Cernan were the first and the last, the alpha and omega if you will.

To me, Neil Armstrong is a hero in every sense of the word. He was Mr. Cool Hand Luke on just about every mission he flew. He saved the day on Gemini 8 by getting the capsule out of an uncontrolled tumble when a thruster got stuck open. He managed to bail out of the lunar lander simulation vehicle at the last second when it malfunctioned and went out of control. Either of these events could have killed a pilot with lesser experience, or one prone to panic or getting flustered when things went wrong...Not Mr. Armstrong, he kept his head and saved the day on both of these flights. Loss of the crew on Gemini 8 especially would have been a major setback to the program.

Then of course there was the heroic action he took on Apollo 11 when he took control of the vehicle away from the computer and avoided a potential crash landing in a field of boulders. Again, saving the day not only for that mission, but also for future Apollo missions which would have occurred under a cloud of gloom and despair had Apollo 11 crashed on the moon.

Gene Cernan is also a class act. He was one of three guys that had the privilege of going to the moon not once, but twice, on Apollo 10 and Apollo 17. He still holds the record for spending more time on the surface than any other human, and he did it with class and dignity. Where Neil Armstrong was not the most eloquent orator in the astronaut corps, Gene Cernan could deliver a soliloquy to rival any of those in Hamlet. The remarks he made before entering the LM for the last time on Apollo 17 are still some of the most inspiring words ever spoken, followed with the phrase, "Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17"...it still gives me goosebumps.

It's too bad we don't live in a world where the Neil Armstrongs and Gene Cernans are not heralded more for being the heroes they are, and for the debt of gratitude the human race owes them for making man's first attempts to land on another celestial body a resounding success instead of a colossal failure. I think the world would be a better place if young people looked more to the Armstrong/Cernan types for their heroes rather than some guy that can put a ball though a hoop, or hit a ball with a stick.

Those are my thoughts about two of my favorite Apollo guys, but they are all my heroes really. What they accomplished may never again be equaled in our lifetime.

Your thoughts?


I'd have to say Buzz Aldrin and Cernan. Cernan for the reasons you mentioned, and Buzz because of how active he has stayed in the astronomical community since then. Amstrong, with a much different personality type more or less withdrew from the public spotlight after the mission, as certainly is his right. But Buzz has been out there talking about and promoting space exploration ever since.



Jim Lovell - and not just because if anyone deserved to step on the moon, it was Lovell.


That's a toughie! Damn. I'll have to go with John Young, the original Space Cowboy. :D


It occurs to me that not everyone may know who the Apollo guys are or which missions they flew. So for all of you youngsters out there under 40 or so who may not remember Apollo, here is a list of the Apollo missions complete with a mission summary and who flew on it:

courtesy of: http://www.spacecovers.com/misc/ap1-17_mission_info.htm

Apollo 1, (AS-204): January 27, 1967
Tragedy struck on the launch pad during a preflight test for Apollo 204 (AS-204), which was scheduled to be the first Apollo manned mission, and would have been launched on February 21, 1967. Astronauts Virgil Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee lost their lives when a fire swept through the Command Module (CM).
The Apollo 1 astronauts were:

Virgil I. Grissom, Jr., Commander
Edward H. White II
Roger B. Chaffee

There were no manned flights between the Apollo 1 Tragedy of January 27, 1967 and the Apollo 7 flight of October 11, 1968.

Apollo 7, (AS-205): October 11-12, 1968
First successful manned flight in the Apollo Project. Orbited Earth 163 times. Duration of flight: 10 days, 20 hours. First manned Command Service Module (CSM) operations in the lunar landing program. First live TV from a manned spacecraft.
The Apollo 7 astronauts were:

Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Commander
Donn F. Eisele, Command Module Pilot
R. Walter Cunningham, Lunar Module Pilot

Apollo 8, (AS-503): December 21-27, 1968
First manned flight to orbit the Moon. In lunar orbit 20 hours, with 10 orbits. Duration of flight: 6 days, 3 hours. Tested the support facilities of the entire Apollo system. The first live TV broadcasts from Moon orbit. Photographs taken of the Earth from the Moon, and the back side of the Moon.
The Apollo 8 astronauts were:

Frank Borman, Commander
James A. Lovell, Jr., Command Module Pilot
William A. Anders, Lunar Module Pilot

Apollo 9, (AS-504): March 3-13, 1969
First manned flight of the Lunar Module and first manned flight of all lunar hardware in Earth orbit. Astronaut Schweickart performed 37 minutes EVA (space walk). Human reactions to space and weightlessness tested in 152 orbits. Duration of flight: 10 days, 1 hour. The name given to the Command Module was "Gumdrop", the name given to the Lunar Module was "Spider".
The Apollo 9 astronauts were:

James A. McDivitt, Commander
David R. Scott, Command Module Pilot
Russell L. Schweickart, Lunar Module Pilot

Apollo 10, (AS-505): May 18-26, 1969
Dress rehearsal for the first manned Moon landing. First manned Command Service Module/Lunar Module operations in cislunar and lunar environment, with simuation of the first lunal landing profile. In lunar orbit 61.6 hours with 31 orbits. The Lunar Module was taken to within 15,243 meters (50,000 ft.) of the lunar surface. First live color TV from space. The Lunar Module ascent stage was jettisoned in orbit. Duration of flight: 8 days, 3 minutes. The name given to the Command Module was "Charlie Brown", the name given to the Lunar Module was "Snoopy".
The Apollo 10 astronauts were:

Thomas P. Stafford, Commander
John W. Young, Command Module Pilot
Eugene A. Cernan, Lunar Module Pilot

Apollo 11, (AS-506): July 16-24, 1969
First manned lunar landing mission and lunar surface EVA. Landing site: Sea of Tranquility. One EVA of 2 hours, 31 minutes. The American Flag and scientific instruments were deployed on the Moon. A plaque was unveiled on the Lunar Module descent stage with inscription: "Here Men From Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon. July 1969 A.D. We Came In Peace For All Mankind". The lunar surface stay time was 21.6 hours with 59.5 hours in lunar orbit, with 30 orbits. The Lunar Module ascent stage was left in lunar orbit. 20kg (44 pounds) of lunar material was gathered. Duration of flight: 8 days, 3 hours, 18 minutes. The name given to the Command Module was "Columbia", the name given to the Lunar Module was "Eagle".
The Apollo 11 astronauts were:

Neil A. Armstrong, Commander
Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot
Edwin E. Aldrin, Lunar Module Pilot

Apollo 12, (AS-507): November 14-24, 1969
Landing site: Ocean of Storms. Retrieved parts of the unmanned Surveyor 3, which had landed on the Moon in April 1967. Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) was deployed. Lunar surface stay-time, 31.5 hours; in lunar orbit 89 hours, with 45 orbits. The Lunar Module descent stage impacted on the Moon. 34kg (75 pounds) of lunar material was gathered.Duration of flight: 10 days, 3 hours, 36 minutes. The name given to the Command Module was "Yankee Clipper", the name given to the Lunar Module was "Intrepid".
The Apollo 12 astronauts were:

Charles Conrad, Jr., Commander
Richard F. Gordon, Jr., Command Module Pilot
Alan L. Bean, Lunar Module Pilot

Apollo 13, (AS-508): April 11-17, 1970
Third lunar landing attempt. Mission was aborted after rupture of the service module oxygen tank. Mission was classed as a "successful failure" because of the experience in rescuing the crew. The spent upper stage was successfully impacted on the Moon
Days before the mission, backup Lunar Module pilot Charlie Duke inadvertently exposed the crew to German measles. The original Command Module pilot, Ken Mattingly, turned out to have no immunity to measles and was replaced by the backup Command Module pilot Jack Swigert. Duration of flight: 5 days, 22.9 hours. The name given to the Command Module was "Odyssey", the name given to the Lunar Module was "Aquarius".
The Apollo 13 astronauts were:

James A. Lovell, Jr., Commander
John L. Swigert, Jr., Command Module Pilot
Fred W. Haise, Jr, Lunar Module Pilot

Apollo 14, (AS-509): January 31 - February 9, 1971
Landing site: Fra Mauro. Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) and other instruments were deployed on the Moon. Lunar surface stay-time: 33.5 hours; 67 hours in lunar orbit, with 34 orbits. There were 2 EVAs of 9 hours, 25 minutes. The third stage impacted on the Moon. 42 kg (94 pounds) of lunar materials was gathered, with astronauts using a hand cart for first time to transport rocks. Duration of the flight: 9 days. The name given to the Command Module was "Kitty Hawk", the name given to the Lunar Module was "Antares".
The Apollo 14 astronauts were:
Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Commander
Stuart A. Roosa, Command Module Pilot
Edgar D. Mitchell, Jr, Lunar Module Pilot

Apollo 15, (AS-510): July 26 - August 7, 1971
Landing site: Hadley-Apennine region near Apennine Mountains. There were 3 EVAs of 10 hours, 36 minutes. Worden performed 38 minutes EVA on way back to Earth. This flight was the first to carry orbital sensors in the Command Service Module. Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) was deployed. Scientific payloads landed on the Moon doubled. Improved spacesuits gave increased mobility and stay-time. The lunar surface stay-time, 66.9 hours. A Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), electric-powered, 4-wheel drive car was used for the first time, traversed a total 27.9 km (17 miles). Astronauts were in lunar orbit 145 hours, with 74 orbits. A small sub-satellite was left in lunar orbit for the first time. 6.6 kgs (169 pounds) of lunar material was gathered. Duration of the flight: 12 days, 17 hours, 12 minutes. The name given to the Command Module was "Endeavor", the name given to the Lunar Module was "Falcon".
The Apollo 15 astronauts were:

David R. Scott, Commander
James B. Irwin, Command Module Pilot
Alfred M. Worden, Lunar Module Pilot

Apollo 16, (AS-511): April 16-27, 1972
Landing site: Descartes Highlands. The first study of highlands area. Selected surface experiments were deployed, ultraviolet camera/spectrograph was used for first time on the Moon, and the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) was used for the second time. Lunar surface stay-time, 71 hours; in lunar orbit 126 hours, with 64 orbits. Mattingly performed 1 hour in-flight EVA. 95.8 kg (213 pounds) of lunar samples were collected. Duration of the flight: 11 days, 1 hour, 51 minutes. The name given to the Command Module was "Casper", the name given to the Lunar Module was "Orion".
The Apollo 16 astronauts were:

John W. Young, Commander
Thomas K. Mattingly II, Command Module Pilot
Charles M. Duke, Jr., Lunar Module Pilot

Apollo 17, (AS-512): December 7-19, 1972
The last lunar landing mission. Landing site: Taurus-Littrow, highlands and valley area.. The first study of highlands area. There were three EVAs of 22 hours, and 4 minutes. Evans performed trans-Earth EVA lasting 1 hour and 6 minutes. Harrison H. Schmitt became the first scientist-astronaut to land ont he Moon. The sixth automated research station was set up on the Moon. The Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) total traverse time was 30.5 km (19 miles). Lunar surface stay time, 75 hours, in lunar orbit 17 hours. 110.4 kg (243 pouns) of lunar samples were collected. Duration of the flight: 12 days, 13 hours, 52 minutes. The name given to the Command Module was "America", the name given to the Lunar Module was "Challenger".
The Apollo 17 astronauts were:

Eugene A. Cernan, Commander
Ronald B. Evans, Command Module Pilot
Harrison H. Schmitt, Lunar Module Pilot


Jack Schmitt, not just for his duties as an astronaut but as a vocal proponent of continued manned space flight, in particular commercial spaceflight.


For me (a space fan since 1957) John W. Young is the all time best astronaut of all the 500 space travellers since Gagarin!

Comparing only his lunar activities with the other "Lunonauts" I have two other favorites on the same level:

1) Eugene Cernan - for the reasons already mentioned, and
2) David Scott for his incredible scientific enthusiasm.

But any ranking among these unique personalities is unfair. Each of them has achieved an outstanding accomplishment!



Being born in 1957, the best year in which to be born, btw. It is clearly Neil Armstrong. The space program came of age, just in time, and frankly, everything else along the way, as well. Interesting year in which to be born. Not too old to enjoy the present, but young enough to have seen all of the major advances come into common use.

Interestingly, as soon as I graduated Med school in 1983, I got to use a brick for a cell phone. That was pretty heavy.


Pete Conrad and Alan Bean, by far. I don't know of any other crew that seemed to have has much genuine fun on their mission as Apollo 12 did.


I liked John Young. He saluted "The Old Glory" American flag. I think he was on the Apollo 15 or 16 mission. When he did that historical event on the moon, it gave me a sense of his honor and patriotism for his country.


I have two favorites: Buzz Aldrin, and Jim Lovell mainly because they continued to support and promote Space Exploration and spent many hours and probably $$ of their own in part of that effort.


John Young, hands down. He was the only astronaut to fly the inagural flights of both the shuttle and Gemini. He was the only astronaut to fly twice in Gemini, twice in Apollo, and twice in the shuttle and then became cheif astronaut. He was an astronaut's astronaut with the right stuff and the space program was his life.


Hard to pick a favorite, but I heard John Young give a rousing speech at a WorldCon about our possible future in space. Despite his somewhat muted personality, it was riveting. Gotta give props to Bill Anders, too, who I interviewed for an article I wrote about the Heritage Flight. He and Borman were both flying their P-51s at the time, and although Borman didn't want to talk to me, Anders couldn't have been nicer. Told me about his son, an A-10 driver who fought in the Battle of Fallujah, and how he's collecting aircraft for a possible air museum in Bellingham, WA.

I love the way Buzz is keeping space flight in the public eye, although he refused to sign a bottle of Apollo beer for me on a solar ecilpse cruise in '98. Turns out he was an alcoholic. Shoulda done my homework, but fortunately, I already had an autograph from his appearance at the Aldrin Planetarium in West Palm Beach. Wish Armstrong would come out to play once in a while - he could do wonders in getting kids interested in space again.


My favourite Astronaut would have to be Edwin E. Aldrin because to this date he is still upbeat about manned missions to the moon and Mars.


My favorite Apollo Astronaut was Alan Shepard. He was the first American in space, even though he did not orbit the earth. There was so much excitement that even his short trip was such an accomplishment for the US. Later, in 1971 when my daughter Amy was born during the Apollo 14 mission, I watched in amazement and amusement when Alan hit a golf ball from the moon's surface! How did he ever manage to smuggle a club much less the ball into the capsule?


That is a difficult question. I have three favorites, Pete Conrad, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin (honorable mention to John Young).
Buzz because he has helped keep the regular guy and gal interested in space. He sometimes seems like a kook, but he knows his stuff and his opinions are dead on what's going on in the world of space travel. He has continued to support the commercial startups and float ideas about how things could be done. He is a forwad thinker.
Pete Conrad because he was a rebel to the end. He was so calm that he fell asleep on top of the rocket during the run up to the launch of Apollo 12 and saved the mission after lift off and the lightening strikes. He helped save Skylab from an early demise. He died riding his motorcycle at age 69. I want to be like him when I grow up....ok, I am almost 50, but I still dream like a kid.
Mike collins because he was the first to orbit the moon alone and completely out of contact with the world and his fellow astronauts. Reading his book "Carrying the Fire" made me really understand in my own small minded terms the real dangers and triumphs of the first manned moon landing.
John Young because he is the only astronaut to fly the Gemeni, Apollo, LEM and Space Shuttle. He had huge balls to launch on the shuttle with no escape system and on a vehicle that had never flown, even suborbitally.
Ultimately, they were all very brave and daring men.


The Apollo program was personified in total by astronaut Dave Scott. Forget about the stamp cancellation and first day covers controversies. He was a pilot's pilot, AND he totally embraced the geology aspects of exploring the moon. His enthusiasm was real, not contrived. He put all his energy both into the flying and exploration aspects of his mission. When Neil Armstrong demonstrated his "cool" during the in=flight emergency of Gemini 8, remember that it was Dave Scott who was right by his side. Scott worked his fingers raw inside his tight gloves to assure as much "sensitivity" as the gloves would allow in his doing the geologic field work once on the moon. Also recall the awesome demonstration on the lunar surface of dropping a hammer and feather together to see them both fall side by side and strike the lunar surface at the same time- way more exciting and interesting than speading 'spam' on a piece of bread, or swallowing floating water globules!
NASA has already announced that the Apollo 15 landing site explored by Scott and Jim Irwin will be one of the primary sites the new generation of explorers will return to first. It just may be luck that Scott had this site to explore, or perhaps because of the scope of his explorations this site proved to be so valued.


Alan Bean, because he went to my high school and he paints good pictures.


I say all of them! They all worked together to pull off mankind's most incredible feat. I think Al Reinart's documentary "For all Mankind" summarizes it best as one mission instead of singling any of them out. That's the Apollo I think about often and I am awed by it.


I thought about it for a while and I can think of reasons for most all of those guys to be my "favorite".

Grissom, Chaffey and White for their sacrifice. Armstrong, Scott, Lovell, Swigert and Hayes for their courage under pressure. John Young and Harrison Schmitt both because of their accomplishments and because I've been impressed by them in person. Shepherd and Conrad for piloting skill and a wry sense of humor. Shirra, Eisele and Cuningham for being the first Apollo crew to orbit. And Wally for insisting on blowing the hatch on Sigma 7 (his Mercury capsule) once he was recovered, to prove that Gus Grissom wasn’t lying about his hatch blowing spontaneously. Wally was left with a huge bruise across his palm when the escape lanyard recoiled on him. Flight surgeons noted no such bruise on Gus.) Borman, Lovell(again) and Anders for being the first to orbit the moon. Aldrin for the first landing and for punchin’ that guy’s lights out (I’d heard about that but had no idea there was film – GO BUZZ). I could go on, but I get to the point now:

Donald K. (Deke) Slayton who assigned those astronauts to their missions and let's just say that he did one hell of a great job (don't you think?). He was grounded by a weird heart murmur all that time, through Mercury, Gemini and Apollo) . And finally, after the Lunar program, after Skylab, his condition cleared up (maybe due to vitamin C) and he finally got a seat on the last Apollo mission (Apollo/Soyuz). And never, never did a man deserve a mission more.


I have to go with Harrison Schmidt. The only trained geologist in the program.


John Young, as he seems to not know the meaning of the word fear. :lol: What was his heart rate at lift off on Apollo 16, I think it was 70 ?
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