SCHIRRA'S APOLLO CREW SELECTION MEMO.
THE BEGINNING OF THE ASTRONAUT "PECKING ORDER." Wally Schirra's original carbon review copy of a 26 June 1961 NASA Space Task Group Memorandum to the NASA Langley Field Director Floyd Thompson. The memo is titled: "Proposal for Apollo crew selection and training" and consists of five carbon sheets, each being rubber stamped "CONFIDENTIAL."
Created to respond to a NASA Headquarters crew selection study and just weeks after President John F. Kennedy's announced goal to land on the Moon. Primary authors Alan B. Shepard and Donald K. Slayton state on the first sheet that "requirements are key to selection and training, plus having considerable impact on spacecraft design, it appears that a definition of crew requirements at the earliest possible date would serve to place all crew factors in their proper perspective." Desirable scientific disciplines should be included with a logical approach to cross-train to the extent necessary. This approach in crew selection "would eliminate controversy between various factions of the scientific community, political appointees, and all other pressure groups with an assumed interest.
Based on the presently stated mission objective, which is landing on the moon, limited observation and exploration, and safe return, the following three-man crew seems logical and effective for the operational phases..." which are discussed in detail on sheet 2. The bottom of sheet 2 has space for the signatures of Shepard and Slayton.
Sheet 3 is titled "Enclosure 1" and lists qualifications such as education levels, age, physical size, and aircraft flight experience for the roles of "Spacecraft Commander/Pilot, Navigator/Copilot, and System Manager."
Sheets 4 and 5 list additional selection requirements including "18 months general training, 6 months specific mission training" for the first Saturn C-3 and Nova flights. "Mercury Astronauts can phase in as aircraft commanders approx. 6 months ahead of any launch preparation..." and "Navigator/copilots are considered potential spacecraft commanders." The number of astronauts needed is listed as 12 by January 1963, 9 more by July 1963 and 3 more by July 1964, thus increasing the total in the Astronaut Corps to 31 (24 plus the original 7). Wally Schirra has made a manuscript correction of "4, C-1B flights" to part I, section b. Additionally, there is a 13 x 11 inch confidential milestone sheet showing crew scheduling for C-1 Orbital, C-B Elliptical and NOVA Lunar Landing missions beginning in mid-1964 to the end of 1967.
This memo gives some of the earliest recorded insight to what eventually evolved into the "pecking order" of the Astronaut Corps, where the most senior astronauts (Mercury), could greatly influence the crew assignments for future space flights.
The first sheet has been INSCRIBED and SIGNED by WALLY SCHIRRA with: "From my Apollo collection Wally Schirra."