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Thread: Mercury-Atlas 10?

  1. #1
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    Mercury-Atlas 10?

    Had Deke Slayton not been pulled from active flight status, would there have been a MA-10 mission? Slayton was originally scheduled to fly MA-7 before being replaced by Scott Carpenter. I assume that, had Slayton not been grounded, all seven astronauts would have flown a Mercury mission. If so, what would the seventh mission have consisted of (number of orbits, etc.)? I assume NASA got all the data they needed from just six flights and therefore decided to forgo the seventh. Is this correct?

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    A blurb about it here
    The impossible often has a kind of integrity the merely improbable lacks. -Douglas Adams


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    Great link...I'd hadn't thought about this non-flight in ages...thanks.
    The facts, gentlemen, and nothing but the facts, for careful eyes are narrowly watching. Isaac Asimov

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    Quote Originally Posted by mantiss
    A blurb about it here
    Thanks, though the mission described in the Wikipedia article doesn’t sound like the “missing mission” I’m asking about. The described mission wasn’t contemplated until late in the Mercury program,

    In early 1963 it became apparent to NASA that after Gordon Cooper's Mercury-9 mission in May, 1963, it would be over a year or two until manned Gemini program flights began. As a stop gap measure, Space Task Group at NASA considered flying another flight, Mercury-Atlas 10, after Cooper's flight.
    The article also says,

    MA-10 had originally been scheduled as the first one day Mercury flight, but that mission was later given to MA-9.
    So it sounds like there was another mission originally schedule prior to what would become known as MA-9.

    We know Deke Slayton would have flown MA-7 had he not been grounded. And we now know MA-10 was originally scheduled as the first one day flight, presumably to be flown by Gordon Cooper. I think we can assume missions MA-8 and MA-9 were to be flown by Scott Carpenter and Wally Schirra.

    When Slayton got pulled from the flight rotation, Carpenter took his place on MA-7. Apparently either MA-8 or MA-9 was cancelled and the remaining mission renumbered. Schirra ended up flying what we now know as MA-8 and Cooper MA-9, with MA-9 being the mission originally scheduled as MA-10.

    The multi-day mission described in the Wikipedia article wasn’t considered until early 1963, apparently during the time between MA-8 and MA-9. Although it would have had the designation MA-10, it was not the MA-10 mission originally conceived.

    So I guess my question still stands, what mission got cancelled and what was it to consist of?

  5. #5
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    From Astronautix:

    01 December 1962 Mercury MA-9A (cancelled) Program: Mercury. Flight Crew: Cooper, Manned flight: Mercury MA-9A. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D.

    NASA’s Mercury orbital operations plan of July 19, 1961 had four spacecraft equipped for three-orbit flights. However by Schirra’s flight the seven-astronaut corps was down to four. So even thought the flight-ready SC19 had been delivered to Cape Canaveral on March 20, 1962, the decision was taken to cancel the remaining short-duration mission and move directly to an 18 orbit mission.
    Everything I need to know I learned through Googling.

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    Thanks, ToSeek.

    So it sounds like MA-6, 7, 8 and 9 where all originally planned to be 3-orbits flights, and MA-10 was to be a one-day flight. However, NASA cancelled one of the short-duration flights and moved up the one-day flight from MA-10 to MA-9. Also in there somewhere MA-8 was turned into a 6-orbit flight.

    I think this answers my question.

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    From my brief perusal of the literature, I got the impression that Mercury was planned very differently from Apollo, which had clear stepping stones to landing on the Moon. Mercury seemed to go by on a mission-to-mission basis, with those in charge asking after each one, "Well, that worked - what shall we try now?"

    One of my sources even mentioned that the original plan was for each of the astronauts to go on a suborbital flight, but with the Russians going for ever-longer orbital flights, they decided to get more ambitious sooner.
    Everything I need to know I learned through Googling.

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    Are there any unused Mercury capsules on display anywhere? Are did they just build them as they needed them?
    /

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    Quote Originally Posted by Superluminal
    Are there any unused Mercury capsules on display anywhere? Are did they just build them as they needed them?
    I know the Museum of the US Air Force here in Dayton has an unsued Mercury capsule. I looked up the story behind it once, but don't recall now what it was. It is probably either a test version, i.e. never intended to be flown, or flight-capable version that just never made into space.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToSeek
    Mercury seemed to go by on a mission-to-mission basis, with those in charge asking after each one, "Well, that worked - what shall we try now?"
    That's the impression I've received as well. There were so many unknowns at the time that it would have been hard to plan things out too far in advance without knowing what new data the next step was going to provide.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Superluminal
    Are there any unused Mercury capsules on display anywhere? Are did they just build them as they needed them?
    /
    There are two at the Air & Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHarris
    There are two at the Air & Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center.
    Mercury Capsule 15B, Freedom 7 II is the spacecraft that would have been used in multi-day MA-10 flight had it proceeded.

    Here is a link listing the displays at the USAF Museum's Space Flight Gallery. And here is a link specifically to the Mercury spacecraft on display. They say it was flight-rated and was used for parts in support of MA-9.

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