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Quartz
10-27-2005, 01:27 PM
Why is there a preponderance of pilots as astronauts? I know that pilots played a crucial role in the early days of the space race, but surely the maritime fraternity would be much more suitable? Psycologically speaking, particularly submariners in the case of long-term space station inhabitants

Quartz
10-27-2005, 01:28 PM
Bleh! 'Psychologically speaking...'

The Hamster King
10-27-2005, 02:26 PM
Actually there was very little "piloting" to be done in the early space capsules. They mostly flew on automatic.

However, military pilots were accustomed to the g-forces and pressure variations that accompanied space travel. So it was natural to recruit them as astronauts.

I believe that most of today's astronauts are actually scientists, not pilots.

Bookkeeper
10-27-2005, 02:28 PM
Probably because pilots are already pre-selected for most of the physical and mental characteristics required for the early astronauts, plus I believe that the US space program began as an Air Force program, so likely had a pilot bias built in from the beginning.

Cliffy
10-27-2005, 02:34 PM
Actually there was very little "piloting" to be done in the early space capsules. They mostly flew on automatic.

True of Mercury, less true of other spacecraft. There were significant piloting challenges in the Apollo missions, for instance, such as docking, rendevous, and landing on the moon's surface, and the same is true in many shuttle missions in which docking with a space station is necessary.

--Cliffy

carnivorousplant
10-27-2005, 02:42 PM
There were significant piloting challenges in the Apollo missions,... landing on the moon's surface--Cliffy
Indeed, Neil Armstrong needed to be a pilot, he found the LEM was over a boulder field.
Link (http://www.vibrationdata.com/space/apollo11.htm)


The Apollo 11 Lunar Module landed in the southern portion of the Sea of Tranquility. The initial site was chosen from telescopic and lunar orbit photography. It was called Site 2 by the U.S. Geological Survey's Center of Astrogeology.

The Lunar Module overshot this site due to a slight navigational error and a faster than intended descent speed. Furthermore, Neil Armstrong had to maneuver the Lunar Module to avoid landing in craters or impacting against
boulders.

During descent, the low-fuel light came on in the Lunar Module, causing mission controllers to nearly panic. Mission controllers estimated that there were somewhere between 13 and 20 seconds of fuel left when the lunar module finally landed.

Dewey Finn
10-27-2005, 02:46 PM
Probably because pilots are already pre-selected for most of the physical and mental characteristics required for the early astronauts, plus I believe that the US space program began as an Air Force program, so likely had a pilot bias built in from the beginning.
There's a great scene in the movie "The Right Stuff" where the recruiters consider various types, including, as I remember, the guys who shoot themselves out of the cannon at circuses.

BobT
10-27-2005, 05:19 PM
There's a great scene in the movie "The Right Stuff" where the recruiters consider various types, including, as I remember, the guys who shoot themselves out of the cannon at circuses.


And I might add that they are very nice people....

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