Splashdown: NASA, the Navy, & Space Flight Recovery

Splashdown: NASA, the Navy, & Space Flight Recovery

by Don Blair


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This is the first-ever publication detailing the Navy’s role in manned spacecraft recovery from 1961 to 1975, from Alan Shepherd’s initial suborbital mission to the Apollo-Soyuz flight, which inaugurated the first space collaboration between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Splashdown: NASA, the Navy, and Space Flight Recovery takes the reader through a detailed explanation of how recovery forces on land, sea, and in the air were deployed across the globe to be trained for any and all emergencies and eventualities. This book gives concise histories of all prime recovery ships as well as back-up ships in both manned and unmanned missions, with every ship’s history followed by a retelling of their space missions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781596527591
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 07/28/2010
Pages: 319
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Don Blair was born and raised in New Jersey, but after a two-year Army hitch began a nearly 50-year career in radio and television in 1955 from Connecticut. From 1965 to 1989, he worked for all four radio networks in New York City, writing and delivering an estimated 25,000 newscasts during that period. His 1969 worldwide reporting from USS Hornet during the Apollo 11 splashdown (one of his 5 splashdown broadcasts) was one of the largest radio audiences of all time. He remains involved in broadcasting, freelance writing, and producing television shows from his home on the Central Florida Gulf Coast.

Table of Contents


Primarily about Primary Recovery Ships 11

Where did it all begin? 13

A Worldwide Recovery Operation 16

DOD Description of the Entire Recovery Forces Effort 20

Ships Used in the Space Program 31

The Helicopters 59

"M" is for Mercury and . . . for MARINES! Flying Tigers! 62

And then there were Frogmen! 74

From Simulated Spacecraft Recovery to the Real Thing 89

A Conversation with the Captain 122

Events that did not make the evening news:

They've Got a Girl in Their Room!!! 129

The Red Carpet Treatment (GT-11) 131

The Equator Beckons (Apollo-11) 134

The Gremlin of Apollo 15 140

The Prime Recovery Ships and All the Manned Missions:

USS Lake Champlain (CVS-39) 143

The Flight of Mercury-Redstone 3 (Freedom 7) 146

USS Randolph (CVS-15) 149

The Flight of Mercury-Redstone 4 (Liberty Bell 7) 151

USS Noa (DD-841) 153

The Flight of Mercury-Atlas 6 (Friendship 7) 155

USS Intrepid (CVS-11) 158

USS John R. Pierce (DD-753) 161

The Flight of Aurora 7 (Mercury-Atlas 7) 163

USS Kearsarge (CVS-33) 166

The Flight of Sigma 7 (Mercury-Atlas 8) 167

The Flight of Faith 7 (Mercury-Atlas 9) 169

Gemini . . . The Bridge Between Mercury and Apollo 170

The Flight of Gemini 3 172

USS Wasp (CVS-18) 175

The Flight of Gemini 4 179

USS DuPont (DD-941) 182

The Flight of Gemini 5 184

The Flights of Gemini 6 and 7 187

USS Leonard F. Mason (DD-852) 191

The Flight of Gemini 8 192

USS Boxer (CVS-21 and LPH-4) 196

The Flight of Gemini 9 197

USS Guadalcanal (LPH-7) 201

The Flight of Gemini 10 203

USS Guam (LPH-9) 206

The Flight of Gemini 11 208

The Flight of Gemini 12 210

Gemini Summary 214

USS Essex (CVS-9) 216

The Flight of Apollo 7 219

USS Yorktown (CVS-10) 222

The Flight of Apollo 8 226

The Flight of Apollo 9 231

USS Princeton (LPH-5) 235

The Flight of Apollo 10 237

USS Hornet (CVS-12) 240

The Flight of Apollo 11 243

The Flight of Apollo 12 251

USS lwo Jima (LPH-2) 255

The Flight of Apollo 13 258

USS New Orleans (LPH-11) 262

The Flight of Apollo 14 264

USS Okinawa (LPH-3) 268

The Flight of Apollo 15 270

USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14) 275

The Flight of Apollo 16 278

The Flight of Apollo 17 281

Apollo Summary at a Glance 287

Introduction to the Skylab Program 289

The Flight of Skylab II 291

The Flight of Skylab III 293

The Flight of Skylab IV 295

The Flight of Apollo-Soyuz (ASTP) 297

In Closing 301

Acknowledgments 303

Index 306

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