|Donald Kent Slayton|
March 1, 1924|
Sparta, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Died||June 13, 1993
League City, Texas, U.S.
|Other names||Donald Kent Slayton|
|Previous occupation||Bomber pilot; test pilot|
|Alma mater||University of Minnesota, B.S. 1949|
|Time in space||9 days, 1 hour and 28 minutes|
|Selection||1959 NASA Group|
|Missions||Apollo–Soyuz Test Project|
|Retirement||February 27, 1982|
James H. Doolittle Award
After joining NASA, Slayton was selected to pilot the second U.S. manned orbital spaceflight, but was grounded in 1962 by a heart murmur. He then served as NASA's director of flight crew operations, making him responsible for crew assignments at NASA from November 1963 until March 1972. At that time he was granted medical clearance to fly, and was assigned as the docking module pilot of the 1975 Apollo–Soyuz Test Project, becoming the oldest person to fly in space at age 51. This record was surpassed in 1983 by 53 year old John Young and in 1998 by his fellow Project Mercury astronaut John Glenn, who at the age of 77 flew on Space Shuttle mission STS-95.
Early life and education
Slayton was born on a farm near Sparta, Wisconsin. A childhood farm equipment accident left him with a severed left ring finger. He attended elementary school in Leon, Wisconsin and graduated from Sparta High School in 1942.
He entered the United States Army Air Forces as a cadet in 1942, training as a B-25 bomber pilot. He flew 56 combat missions with the 340th Bombardment Group over Europe during World War II and later flew seven combat missions over Japan in a Douglas A-26 Invader as part of the 319th Bombardment Group.
Slayton became a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California. He tested supersonic Air Force fighters, including the F-101, F-102, F-105, and F-106, and was responsible for determining stall-spin characteristics for the large F-105, which became the principal fighter bomber used by the USAF over North Vietnam.
Slayton was chosen as one of the original seven American astronauts in 1959. He was scheduled to fly in 1962 on the second orbital flight (to have been named Delta 7, the name coming from the mission being the fourth spaceflight—the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet and the seven astronauts), but because of an erratic heart rate (idiopathic atrial fibrillation), he was grounded in September 1962, and his place was taken by Scott Carpenter aboard Aurora 7. Slayton was the only member of the Mercury Seven who did not fly in the Mercury program. He was one of the eight Paresev pilots.
Gemini and Apollo selection
When NASA grounded Slayton, the Air Force followed suit. From September 1962 until November 1963, he obtained the unofficial title of "chief astronaut" when he took on the position of Coordinator of Astronaut Activities, which would later officially become Chief of the Astronaut Office. Slayton resigned his Air Force commission in 1963 and then worked for NASA in a civilian capacity as head of astronaut selection. He had the decisive role in choosing the crews for the Gemini and Apollo programs, including the decision of who would be the first person on the Moon.
A long medical program[clarification needed] led to Slayton being restored to full flight status in 1972, when he was selected as docking module pilot for the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project, a docking between the American Apollo spacecraft and the Soyuz spacecraft of the Soviet Union. On July 17, 1975, the two craft joined up in orbit, and astronauts Slayton, Thomas P. Stafford and Vance D. Brand conducted crew transfers with cosmonauts Alexey Leonov and Valeri Kubasov. At the end of the flight, an erroneous switch setting led to the introduction of noxious fumes into the Apollo cabin during landing, and the crew was hospitalized as a precaution in Honolulu, Hawaii, for two weeks. During hospitalization, a lesion was discovered on Slayton's lung and removed. It was determined to be benign.
After the Apollo–Soyuz flight, he became head of the Approach and Landing Tests for NASA's space shuttle program.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (July 2009)|
Slayton retired from NASA in 1982. After retirement, he served as president of Space Services Inc., a Houston-based company earlier founded to develop rockets for small commercial payloads. He served as mission director for a rocket called the Conestoga, which was successfully launched on September 9, 1982, and was the world's first privately funded rocket to reach space. Slayton also became interested in aviation racing.
Slayton penned an autobiography with space historian Michael Cassutt entitled Deke!: U.S. Manned Space from Mercury to the Shuttle. As well as Slayton's own astronaut experiences, the book describes how Slayton made crew choice selections, including choosing the first person to walk on the Moon. Numerous astronauts have noted that only when reading this book did they learn why they had been selected for certain flights decades earlier.
Slayton's name also appears with three other co-authors, including fellow astronaut Alan Shepard, on the book Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon, published in 1994. The book was also made into a documentary film of the same name. Slayton died before either Moon Shot project was finished or released, and the book did not receive any input from him. However, the film was narrated from Slayton's point of view (voiced by Barry Corbin) and includes a brief tribute to him at the very end.
Slayton was a friend of fellow astronaut Gus Grissom. He married Marjorie "Marge" Lunney in 1955, and they had one son, Kent Sherman (born in 1957). They eventually divorced, and Slayton later married Bobbie Belle Jones (1945–2010). They remained married until his death.
- Distinguished Flying Cross
- Air Medal
- NASA Distinguished Service Medal (3 awards)
- NASA Exceptional Service Medal
- NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal
- NASA Spaceflight Medal
- American Campaign Medal
- European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
- Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
- World War II Victory Medal
- National Defense Service Medal with star
Slayton's other awards include -
The Collier Trophy; the SETP Iven C. Kincheloe Award; the Gen. Billy Mitchell Award; the SEPT J.H. Doolittle Award (1972); the National Institute of Social Sciences Gold Medal (1975); the Zeta Beta Tau’s Richard Gottheil Medal (1975); the Wright Brothers International Manned Space Flight Award (1975); the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Space Award (1976); the American Heart Association’s Heart of the Year Award (1976); the District 35-R Lions International American of the Year Award (1976); the AIAA Special Presidential Citation (1977); the University of Minnesota’s Outstanding Achievement Award (1977); the Houston Area Federal Business Association’s Civil Servant of the Year Award (1977); the AAS Flight Achievement Award for 1976 (1977); the AIAA Haley Astronautics Award for 1978; honorary doctorate in Science from Carthage College, Carthage, Illinois, in 1961; honorary doctorate in Engineering from Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, in 1965.
The Deke Slayton Memorial Space & Bicycle Museum in Sparta, Wisconsin, was named in his honor. The Slayton biographical exhibit includes his Mercury space suit, his Ambassador of Exploration Award, which showcases a lunar sample, and more. In nearby La Crosse, Wisconsin, an annual summer aircraft air show, the Deke Slayton Airfest, has been held in his honor, featuring modern and vintage military and civilian aircraft, along with NASA speakers.
- In the 1983 film The Right Stuff Slayton was played by Scott Paulin.
- In the 1995 film Apollo 13 he was played by Chris Ellis.
- In the 1996 TV movie Apollo 11 he was played by Jack Conley.
- In the 1998 TV miniseries From the Earth to the Moon he was played by Nick Searcy.
- In the 2009 TV movie Moonshot he was played by Nigel Whitmey.
- Slayton, Donald K.; Cassutt, Michael (1994). Deke!: U.S. Manned Space: From Mercury to the Shuttle (1st ed.). New York: Forge. ISBN 0-312-85503-6. LCCN 94002463. OCLC 29845663.
- ——; Cassutt, Michael (1995) [Originally copyrighted 1994]. Deke!. New York: Forge. ISBN 0-312-85918-X. LCCN 94002463. OCLC 42051303.
- ——; Shepard, Alan B.; Barbree, Jay; Benedict, Howard (1994). Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America’s Race to the Moon. Introduction by Neil Armstrong (1st ed.). Atlanta: Turner Publishing Company. ISBN 1-878685-54-6. LCCN 94003027. OCLC 29846731. Author in name only.
- ——; Carpenter, M. Scott; Cooper, L. Gordon, Jr.; Glenn, John H., Jr.; Grissom, Virgil I.; Schirra, Walter M., Jr.; Shepard, Alan B., Jr. (2010) [Originally published 1962]. We Seven: By the Astronauts Themselves. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. ISBN 978-1-4391-8103-4. LCCN 62019074. OCLC 429024791.
- "Astronaut Bio: Deke Slayton 6/93". NASA. June 1993. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
- "Donald K "Deke" Slayton". Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame. Retrieved August 8, 2013. "While at Edwards, Deke Slayton flew test flight missions on the F-101, F-102, F-105 and the F-106."
- Kranz 2000
- "Donald K. Slayton". International Space Hall of Fame. New Mexico Museum of Space History. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
- history office, Peter W. Merlin, compilation done in 1998[clarification needed]
- Abell, John C. (September 9, 2009). "September 9, 1982: 3-2-1 … Liftoff! The First Private Rocket Launch". Wired.com. Condé Nast. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
- Slayton & Cassutt 1994
- Shepard & Slayton 1994
- Slayton & Cassutt 1995, p. 185
- Burgess 2011, p. 345
- Burgess 2011, p. 350
- Warren-Findley, Jannelle (1998). "The Collier as Commemoration: The Project Mercury Astronauts and the Collier Trophy". In Mack, Pamela E. From Engineering Science to Big Science: The NACA and NASA Collier Trophy Research Project Winners. The NASA History Series. Washington, D.C.: NASA History Office, Office of Policy and Plans. p. 165. ISBN 0-16-049640-3. LCCN 97027899. OCLC 37451762. NASA SP-4219. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
- "National Aviation Hall of fame: Our Enshrinees". National Aviation Hall of Fame. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
- "Texas Oncology-Deke Slayton Cancer Center". Retrieved February 10, 2011.
- "Bobbie Slayton dead at 65". Bay Area Citizen (Houston, TX: Houston Community Newspapers). November 29, 2010. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
- "Deke Slayton Memorial Space & Bicycle Museum". Retrieved February 10, 2011.
- The Right Stuff at the Internet Movie Database
- Apollo 13 at the Internet Movie Database
- Apollo 11 at the Internet Movie Database
- From The Earth to the Moon at the Internet Movie Database
- Moonshot at the Internet Movie Database
- Burgess, Colin (2011). Selecting the Mercury Seven: The Search for America's First Astronauts. New York: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-8405-0. ISBN 978-1-4419-8404-3. LCCN 2011925650. OCLC 747105631.
- Kranz, Gene (2000). Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-0079-9. LCCN 00027720. OCLC 43590801. "...[H]e was one of the hot test pilots at Edwards Air Force Base, pushing the F-105 to its limits."
- NASA long biography
- NASA short biography
- Deke Slayton Museum
- Deke Slayton Airfest
- Spacefacts biography of Deke Slayton
- Donald K. "Deke" Slayton at Find a Grave