Interview de Neil R. Anderson

    Neil A. Anderson fut pilote de chasse dans le corps des Marines. Il travailla comme chef de section au MSC Houston pendant les programmes Gemini et Apollo, puis quitta la NASA pour devenir pilote d'essai chez General Dynamics. Il participa entre autres aux programmes de tests du F-16 et du F-111.

  

    J'ai pu le retrouver et lui poser quelques questions par e.mail. Je le remercie pour son aide et pour le temps qu'il a pu me consacrer.

    Voici le compte-rendu de cette interview.

    Marc Cecotti First of all, what were your occupation and your duties at MSC during the 60's ? Did you work for NASA, for the Air Force or for a NASA Contractor ?

Neil Anderson Personal. I was a NASA employee leading a section of Pilot-Engineers in the Flight Crew Support Division at Houston. My section evaluated and checked out various simulators and training devices on the Gemini and Apollo programs to verify their readiness and training value.

    MC Why have you been selected as a CSM-008 crewmember ? What were the requirements and the qualifications needed to be a crewmember ? Why did NASA not assign actual astronauts to perform this mission, as it was done on 2TV-1 ?

NA As a NASA Section Leader and USMC Reserve jet pilot, I was selected by the Division Chief to be the commander of the first test crew for a Thermal-Vacuum experiment involving eight days in CSM 008 on a rotating base. The second test and back-up crews used other members of our section as well as Astronauts.

    MC How long before the test were you named to the crew ? Did you undergo a special training ?

NA Our crew was named about six months before the scheduled test to permit medical checks, pressure suit checkout, and Apollo systems training.

    MC Who are Joel Rosenweig and Donald Garrett ?

NA The other two crew members were Joel Rosenzweig and Don Garrett, both USAF Captains on loan assignment to NASA MSC.

    MC According to what I've read in NASA Records, a backup crew was assigned : Joseph Gagliano, William Anderson and Michael Lake. Can you confirm it ?

NA True. The assignment rationale was based on possible prime crew sickness or other problem...

    MC Were the crew assignment in the following order : Command Pilot, Senior Pilot and Pilot, or CDR, CMP and LMP ?

NA Essentially yes, it was Cdr, CM Pilot and LM Pilot.

    MC Was there any formal or informal crew photograph ?

NA Yes, several.

    MC According to John Stott, there was a 35mm stereo camera onboard. Can you provide me with any picture of you and the other crewmembers, or with any other pictures taken during the test or during this period ?

NA I have some pictures...I might be able to get them copied and sent if you have a need and can provide an address.

    MC Can you describe your 8 days inside the spacecraft ? Do you remember any anecdotes ? What were your activities during those 8 days ? Were some stages of the test boring ?

NA   It was quite a busy period, albeit with long periods of light activities to "appreciate" the immobility and effects of one "g" pressures on body parts. Late one night, during a thunderstorm outside the chamber, the lightning caused an electrical shutdown inside the spacecraft. We found ourselves ,in the dark, trying to hastily don the lifesaving pressure suits in those cramped confines. When the lights came on after two minutes, all three of us were trying to don the same suit. There were many more unusual events to keep us entertained.

    MC Was the CSM-008 spacecraft identical to an actual flight article ? I mean, was all flight hardware (fuel cells, computer system, ...) operational and working ?

NA Essentially yes. Obviously, added or revised instrumentation was needed for an Earthbound test. As much realism as possible was included.Suits, crew couches, food, medical instrumentation, toilet facilities, communications, Test Control , etc were realistic.

    MC Was a special mission patch designed for the test ?

NA No, not that I'm aware of. The controllers might have had one.

    MC Have you heard of a manned test performed a few months ago inside a NAA Vacuum Chamber at Downey with engineers Erman, Abell and Moyles ?

NA No, But I'm glad such testing still yields valuable data.

    MC Were those 8 days really exhausting ? Did you undergo a big debriefing after the test ?

NA Yes...Yes

    MC Do you have any information about the second CSM-008 test that was performed with astronauts Kerwin and Givens, and Air Force Captain Joe Gagliano ?

NA Some...I helped to train and minitor that test.

    MC Did you leave NASA at the end of the Apollo Program ? According to what I've saw on the Internet, you returned to flight testing a few years later.

NA Yes. I moved to General Dynamics as an Experimental Test Pilot on F-111, F-16< etc..test programs.

 

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2004, Marc Cecotti. All rights reserved.
Photos : Neil Anderson