restricted access 2. The Homesteaders
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2. The Homesteaders The nine astronauts selected to serve on the Skylab flight crews represented three different demographics. Only two, Alan Bean and Pete Conrad, had flown in space before. Three of them, Owen Garriott, Ed Gibson, and Joe Kerwin, were members of the first group of scientist astronauts *: had selected. The remaining four, Jerry Carr, Jack Lousma, Bill Pogue, and Paul Weitz, were unflown pilot astronauts. The Moonwalkers Not only were Bean and Conrad the only two flown astronauts on the Skylab flight crews, they had flown their last mission together; on it, the two had walked on the moon. With three previous spaceflights under his belt, Pete Conrad was far and away the senior member of the three Skylab crews. Born in June }u™¤ in Philadelphia , Conrad at an early age developed a love of flying. After earning a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Princeton, Conrad pursued that love as a naval aviator. He went on to earn a place at “Pax River,” the Navy Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, where he served as a test pilot, flight instructor, and performance engineer. It was there that Conrad first applied to become an astronaut in the initial selection process that brought in the original Mercury Seven. Though he was not selected in that round, the experiences of friends who were chosen inspired him to try again, and in }u“ Conrad was named as part of *:’s second class of astronauts, a group of nine men that also included Neil Armstrong , Frank Borman, Jim McDivitt, Jim Lovell, Elliot See, Tom Stafford, Ed White, and John Young. His first spaceflight came three years later when he served as pilot of the third manned Gemini mission in August }u“g, commanded by Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper. Gemini g was to have a mission length of eight days, the first of two times in his life that Conrad would set a new space- flight duration record. Just over a year later, Conrad moved up to a command of his own, flying the Gemini }} mission with pilot Dick Gordon in September }u““. The second -to-last Gemini mission, flown just months before manned Apollo flights were then scheduled to begin, Gemini 11 was intended to gain more experience with rendezvous and extravehicular activity (C), two areas which would be vital for Apollo. When Conrad flew again three years later, the success of Apollo was a fait accompli. Four months earlier *: had fulfilled Kennedy’s mandate “of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth” before the decade was out. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had become the first and second men on the moon on ¤ July }u“u, and next it was Conrad’s turn. The Apollo } mission reunited Commander Conrad with Command Module pilot Gordon, and Bean joined the two as Lunar Module pilot. On }u November Conrad and Bean left Gordon in lunar orbit and touched down on the surface. As he became the third man to walk on the moon, Conrad referenced Armstrong’s famous “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind” line in his own first words on another world: “Whoopee! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that’s a long one for me.” Alan Bean was born in }u™ in Wheeler, Texas. Like Conrad, Bean earned k. Members of the first Skylab crew: (from left) Joe Kerwin, Pete Conrad, and Paul Weitz. =•3):=8:• |• ™u his bachelor’s degree (in aeronautical engineering at the University of Texas ) and followed that with service in the Navy, having been in Reserve Officer Training Corps (83=) while in college. After a four-year tour of duty, Bean also attended Navy Test Pilot School and then flew as a test pilot of naval aircraft. He was selected as an astronaut in *:’s third group in October }u“ —a class almost as large as both of its predecessors combined—along with Buzz Aldrin, Bill Anders, Charles Bassett, Gene Cernan, Roger Chaffee, Michael Collins, Walt Cunningham, Donn Eisele, Ted Freeman, Dick Gordon, Rusty Schweickart, David Scott, and C. C. Williams. Bean’s first crew assignment was as backup for Gemini }¤, along with C. C. Williams. While his crewmate preceded him in getting an Apollo assignment , as backup for Apollo u, that slot went to Bean after Williams’s death in a crash of one of the =-™[ jets used by the astronaut...