NASA Astronaut Group 2

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Group 2 astronauts: Back row: See, McDivitt, Lovell, White, & Stafford. Front row: Conrad, Borman, Armstrong, & Young

NASA's Astronaut Group 2, also known as The New Nine, was the second group of astronauts selected by NASA and announced on September 17, 1962. The group was required to augment the original Mercury 7 with the announcement of the Gemini program and leading to the Apollo program. While the Original 7 had been selected to accomplish the simpler task of orbital flight, the new challenges of rendezvous and lunar landing led to the selection of candidates with advanced engineering degrees (for four of the New Nine) as well as test pilot experience. Two of this group had been candidates for the original 7, but were not selected then for medical reasons. In addition, Group 2 became the first group with civilian test pilots in the group; See flew for General Electric, while Armstrong flew the X-15 research plane for NASA.

A chart showing Group 2 assignments in Gemini and Apollo in relation to assignments from other astronaut groups. This shows how Group 2 formed the core of the commanders (designated with a 'star') for Moon missions, with all seven surviving members of the group given an Apollo command.

Group members[edit]

Gemini 8 - March 1966 - Command Pilot - First docking (Gemini ATV) in space, first mission aborted from Earth orbit
Apollo 11 - July 1969 - Commander - First manned lunar landing; first person to walk on the Moon
Gemini 7 - December 1965 - Command Pilot - First two-week manned space mission; first rendezvous in space, with Gemini 6A
Apollo 8 - December 1968 - Commander - First manned circumlunar mission
Gemini 5 - August 1965 - Pilot - First eight-day space mission, first use of fuel cells
Gemini 11 - September 1966 - Command Pilot - First direct-ascent rendezvous; set highest apogee Earth orbit; first artificial gravity experiment
Apollo 12 - November 1969 - Commander - Second manned lunar landing; third man to walk on the Moon
Skylab 2 - May-June 1973 - Commander - First American space station mission

Conrad was a candidate for the Mercury Seven, but disqualified himself when he refused to complete what he considered to be invasive medical tests.[1]

Gemini 7 - December 1965 - Pilot - First two-week space mission, first rendezvous in space, with Gemini 6A
Gemini 12 - November 1966 - Command Pilot - Final Gemini mission
Apollo 8 - December 1968 - Command Module Pilot - First manned circumlunar mission
Apollo 13 - April 1970 - Commander - Third manned lunar landing attempt, first mission abort beyond Earth orbit; highest human altitude record.

Lovell became the first person to travel to the Moon twice. Like Conrad, he had been a candidate for the Mercury Seven, but was not selected due to a high bilirubin blood count.[2]

Gemini 4 - June 1965 - Command Pilot
Apollo 9 - March 1969 - Commander - First manned flight of Lunar Module
See was chosen as Command Pilot of Gemini 9, but died in a T-38 plane crash less than four months before launch.
Gemini 6A - December 1965 - Pilot - First rendezvous in space, with Gemini 7
Gemini 9A - June 1966 - Command Pilot (See's backup)
Apollo 10 - May 1969 - Commander - "Dress rehearsal" for Apollo 11, first lunar orbital flight of Lunar Module, highest speed attained by a manned vehicle (24,791 mph)
Apollo-Soyuz Test Project - July 1975 - Commander - First joint American-Soviet space mission, first docking of an American and Russian spacecraft
Gemini 4 - June 1965 - Pilot - First American EVA
Apollo 1 - January 1967 - Senior Pilot - Killed in fire during a launch pad test one month before launch
Gemini 3 - March 1965 - Pilot - First manned Gemini mission; first manned mission to change orbital plane
Gemini 10 - July 1966 - Command Pilot - First double rendezvous
Apollo 10 - May 1969 - Command Module Pilot - "Dress rehearsal" for Apollo 11, first lunar orbital flight of Lunar Module, highest speed attained by a manned vehicle (24,791 mph)
Apollo 16 - April 1972 - Commander - Fifth manned lunar landing; Young became the ninth person to walk on the Moon
STS-1 Columbia - April 1981 - Commander - First Space Shuttle mission, maiden flight of Columbia
STS-9 Columbia - November 1983 - Commander - First Spacelab mission; Young became the first person to travel into space six times

References on television[edit]

The first episode, "Can We Do This?", of the HBO miniseries, From the Earth to the Moon depicts the first meeting of the New Nine. The eleventh episode, "The Original Wives' Club", depicts how the space program affected the wives of this group.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Conrad, Nancy and Klausner, Howard. Rocketman: Astronaut Pete Conrad's Incredible Ride to the Moon and Beyond (NAL 2005), pp. 113-118.
  2. ^ Kluger, Jeffrey; Jim Lovell (July 1995). Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 (First Pocket Books printing ed.). New York: Pocket Books. pp. 188–196. ISBN 0-671-53464-5. 

External links[edit]