Astronaut and Cosmonaut Medical Histories

Mercury · Gemini & Apollo · Shuttle · Soviet & Russian · Other · Incident descriptions · References


Mercury ("Original 7")
Name, Country, Year When Description
PRE UNK DUR FLY POS
Group as a whole
USA, 1959
pre        
Air Force pamphlet 161-18 (December 1968), page 25-4, gives the range of various laboratory values and physiological data for the seven Mercury astronauts. These include:
- fasting cholesterol levels: 184 to 280 mg/ml (they probably meant mg/dl),
- fasting sugar levels: 88 to 108 mg/dl,
- total lung capacity: 6.34 to 8.02 L,
- vital capacity: 5.11 to 6.02 L,
- final O2 uptake during exercise: 2.07 to 2.84 L/min.
Carpenter, M. Scott
USA, 1959
pre        
Smoker, but quit while astronaut 5c
Cooper, L. Gordon
USA, 1959
  unk      
Has written an autobiography: 10

-- The book is riddled with factual errors. Beware.

pre        
Had hay fever. Had to convince doctors: "I can't imagine I'll run into many mixed grasses and sycamore trees in space." 10a
    dur    
As part of the his Mercury pre-flight activities, Cooper remembers: "I stripped, and a medical technician glued a half-dozen medical sensors to various spots on my body that he'd first sandpapered and scrubbed with alcohol." 10b Dr Zebra underwent the same procedure at NASA and let me tell you, alcohol on raw-rubbed skin hurts like the Dickens. It is a testament to Cooper's toughness that he does not even mention the discomfort.
      fly  
Flushed feeling in face for twenty minutes after the abrupt transition from high positive-G to zero-G. 10c
      fly  
Says his oxygen consumption on Mercury flight was 33% of predicted. Claims the prediction was based on consumption rates of predecessors in space. Says he was the first lifelong non-smoker to fly for USA, and this accounted for lower oxygen consumption. 10c This physiological explanation is not convincing.
      fly  
Cooper claimed to see features of the earth from orbit that are hard to believe, smoke coming from houses being the most impressive. 10d
      fly  
Was the first American to sleep in space. 10e There was also the famous incident in which he fell asleep on the launch pad during the countdown for his Mercury flight. He reports that a contributing cause was the early hour at which he'd been awakened. He fell asleep at a time when his work was done and he had nothing to do. 10f
      fly  
Massive systems failure on Mercury flight led to loss of carbon dioxide scrubbing. Claims that the CO2 levels exceeded the levels at which he'd been ground-tested, and that he exhibited signs of CO2 intoxication ("panting shallowly"). 10g
      fly  
Cooper and Conrad were the first Americans to defecate in space, aboard Gemini 5.

In those days, space crews were kept on a "low-residue" diet for two weeks before their missions. 10h Cooper gives the menu for his Mercury pre-flight breakfast: fresh-squeezed orange juice, filet mignon, scrambled eggs, toast, grape jelly, and coffee. 10i Today, Air Force U-2 pilots eat low-residue diets before their long missions.

      fly  
After the Gemini 5 mission "Gordo and Pete were wobbly (who wouldn't have been, after sitting in the front seat of a Volkswagen for eight days), but they were still in good shape" 6e
        pos
Died on Oct. 4, 2004, aged 77. The cause of death was not immediately known. He died on the 47th anniversary of the Sputnik 1 launch, which was also the day that SpaceShipOne claimed the Ansari Prize.
Glenn, John H.
USA, 1959
  unk      
Has written an autobiography: 11
pre        
Supposedly was a typically boistrous and profane Marine fighter pilot, until he achieved fame on a record-setting cross-country flight and appeared on the "Name That Tune" television show. "That's when he got interested in being a boy scout, a hero's hero, which he became." 5d
pre        
Smoker, but quit while astronaut 5c
      fly  
In medical circles there is an urban legend that Glenn had a six or seven beat run of ventricular tachycardia on the launch pad during the count-down for his Mercury flight. The legend further states that a hold was introduced into the count-down while physicians figured out what to do. Ultimately, they looked at each other and said "This is the healthiest guy in the country. We may as well let him fly." Supposedly the monitor strip now hangs on the wall of a prominent Duke University cardiologist. But, according to launch director Chris Kraft, who was asked about it by one of his friends in 1999, the story is not true: "Never happened!"
      fly  
Hand laceration when he blew open the hatch on his Mercury spacecraft after splashdown.

Grissom did not sustain such a laceration. 10j

    dur    
Fell in the bathtub (?) and hit his head, grounding him for some time.
Grissom, Virgil "Gus"
USA, 1959
pre        
Smoker, but quit while astronaut 5c
pre        
During his medical examination for the astronaut program, "the doctors found that he suffered allergic sensitivity to certain substances. He argued out of the threat to disqualify him. 'There won't be any ragweed pollen in space,' he pointed out tersely." 3b
      fly  
"After his [Mercury] flight, Gus admitted something he did not tell the doctor. He had a sore throat. It had been nagging him for a couple of days but he knew if he mentioned it to anyone he would probably be grounded. Gus wasn't about to let a sore throat send two years of work and waiting down the drain." 3c
      fly  
Parachute deployment during Gemini 3 re-entry was so violent that Grissom's helmet faceplate was holed from impacting a knob on the spacecraft instrument panel. The same maneuver also cracked the faceplate of his Gemini 3 crewmate, Young, and Schirra's faceplate on Gemini 6A 6f
      fly  
Got seasick and vomited while bobbing in his Gemini 3 spacecraft after splashdown. 3d 6g
    dur    
Died 1967 with Ed White and Roger Chaffee in the Apollo 1 fire See APOLLO1FIRE incident.
Enos (chimpanzee)
USA, 1961
      fly  
Had a femoral CVP line that caused multifocal PVCs and led to a mission abort 12a
      fly  
A lever malfunctioned on his MA-5 flight. As a result "the poor little bastard received nearly 80 undeserved shocks." 13a
      fly  
He pulled out his urinary catheter and started to bleed. 14a
Ham (chimpanzee)
USA, 1961
      fly  
Malfunction of Redstone booster on MR-2 flight caused Ham to pull 15 Gs on re-entry instead of 12. On splashdown, the spacecraft began to leak and eventually sank. "Ham was one very pissed-off little chimp by the time they got him back to the Cape." 4g
Schirra, Walter M.
USA, 1959
  unk      
Has written an autobiography: 5
pre        
Smoker, but quit in 1968 5e Before his Mercury flight, "smoked right up to the launch pad." 10k
pre        
Nodes on his vocal cords, which were surgically removed before he was medically cleared for the Mercury selection. 5f
    dur    
Two days before his Mercury flight Schirra had a "very red, inflamed eye." Flight surgeon Fred Kelly removed a synthetic fiber from the eye and "felt like I had just removed the thorn from the lion's paw." 12b
      fly  
Hand laceration when he blew open the hatch on his Mercury spacecraft after splashdown.

Grissom did not sustain such a laceration. 10j

    dur    
On the trip to the launch pad before the first (of three) liftoff attempts for Gemini 6, "Wally lit up a Marlboro. He had not yet given up smoking, figuring he could survive a twenty-four-hour flight without getting the shakes." He did not smoke before the successful liftoff of Gemini 6A 6h
      fly  
Parachute deployment during Gemini 6A re-entry was so violent that Schirra's helmet faceplate cracked from impacting the metal glove-attachment ring on his spacesuit. The same maneuver also cracked the faceplates of both Grissom and Young on Gemini 3 6f
      fly  
Flight surgeons and mission planners attempted to ban coffee from Apollo 7 5g
      fly  
First American to suffer the common cold in space (Apollo 7). Cunningham accused him of having known about the cold before launch and concealing it, "which is sheer nonsense. A flight surgeon at the cape had noticed a slight inflammation of my throat, and he said that everyone in Florida seemed to have a sore throat." 5h See APOLLO7EARDRUM incident.
      fly  
Successfully used a little bit of Neosporin cream to lubricate the gears of his jammed Hasselblad camera on Apollo 7. 5i
      fly  
The Apollo 7 crew disobeyed a direct order to wear their helmets during re-entry, because all had headcolds and worried about rupturing an ear drum. 1b See APOLLO7EARDRUM incident.
Shepard, Alan B.
USA, 1959
  unk      
Has co-written a book: 15
  unk      
An excellent biography of Shepard has appeared: Light This Candle.
pre        
Smoker, but quit while astronaut 5c Before his Mercury flight, "smoked right up to the launch pad." 10k
    dur    
Meniere disease.

Checked into the hospital as Victor Poulis 4h

        pos
Died of leukemia. Was diagnosed in 1996 [Encyclopedia Astronautica]
Slayton, Donald K.
USA, 1959
  unk      
Has written an autobiography: 4
  unk      
Has co-written a book: 15
pre        
Traumatic amputation of the ring finger on his nondominant (left) hand, age 5 4i
pre        
Smoker, but quit while astronaut 5c
pre        
Hernia repair September 1956 4j
pre        
Claimed three months of eye exercises in 1951 got his vision to 20/20. "After all, your eye is nothing but a muscle." 4k
pre        
Smoker from an early age (third or fourth grade) 4i
    dur    
Snored loudly. According to John Glenn, "I've been in barracks and BOQs for years, but Deke was the worst snorer I had ever heard. He could rattle the pictures off the wall." 4l
    dur    
Atrial fibrillation kept Slayton out of space for more than 10 years. Had first episode in August 1959 after riding the Johnstown centrifuge 4m Later examined by cardiologists Eugene Braunwald 4n and Paul Dudley White 4o Comment: Interestingly, White makes operational, not medical, judgement. Slayton thinks vitamins cured his afib 4p
    dur    
Checked into the Mayo Clinic under the name Dick K. King in 1971. "They ran me through the usual tests -- angiograms, whatever. Not only was there no sign of any coronary artery disease, which had been one of the worries back in 1962, there was no recurrence of atrial fibrillation." 4q He was approved for spaceflight by Mayo's Dr. Hal Mankin. Six of the seven physicians he'd previously consulted were perfectly willing to approve the new status. The seventh grumbled but ultimately said he would not stand in Slayton's way. 4r
      fly  
Near-fatal toxic gas exposure during ASTP re-entry and splashdown See ASTP incident.
    dur    
Benign lesion on chest X-ray. 4s .  The lesion was discovered at Tripler Army Hospital during scrutiny of chest x-rays taken to evaluate the ASTP toxic gas episode (see above). "The lesion had actually appeared in preflight X rays, but nobody had caught it; you had to be a very good radiologist to see it." The "precancerous" lesion was surgically removed in Houston. Slayton had recovered by September 1975 6i
        pos
Died June 13, 1993 of brain tumor
Gemini, Apollo, Skylab
Name, Country, Year When Description
PRE UNK DUR FLY POS
Aldrin, Edwin "Buzz"
USA, 1963
  unk      
Has written an autobiography: 16
      fly  
All Apollo 11 crew members took an anti-motion sickness pill before re-entry and after splashdown. "At all costs we must not throw up in the biological isolation garments that the swimmers will throw in to us." 13b
        pos
Took medical retirement from the U.S. Air Force 6j
Allen, Joseph
USA, 1967
  unk      
Has written a book: 17
Anders, William
USA, 1963
  unk      
--
      fly  
On Apollo 8, Borman became frankly ill on the trip to the moon. Crewmates Lovell and Anders "had brief moments of discomfort" 6k
Armstrong, Neil
USA, 1962
      fly  
All Apollo 11 crew members took an anti-motion sickness pill before re-entry and after splashdown. "At all costs we must not throw up in the biological isolation garments that the swimmers will throw in to us." 13b
Bassett, Charles
USA, 1963
    dur    
Died with Elliott See in 1966 when his T-38 jet crashed while attempting to land in St. Louis
Bean, Alan L.
USA, 1963
  unk      
Has written an autobiography: 18

Classified as "Juvenile literature" by Library of Congress

  unk      
Has co-written a book: 19
      fly  
The Apollo 12 splashdown impact jarred a camera loose, which struck Bean in head and caused transient loss of consciousness.
Bobko, Karol
USA, 1966
    dur    
Vomited when he saw Stafford eat the eye from a ram's head at a dinner in the Soviet Union, 1975. Slayton had to leave the table "shortly thereafter" 6l
Borman, Frank
USA, 1962
  unk      
Has written an autobiography: 20
      fly  
On Gemini 7, crewmate Lovell lost his toothbrush, and Borman had to share his for the remainder of the flight 13c
      fly  
After 11 (of 14) long days in orbit on Gemini 7, both Borman and Lovell experienced "quite an emotional letdown" as they saw Gemini 6A fly away 6m
      fly  
On Apollo 8, Borman became frankly ill on the trip to the moon. Crewmates Lovell and Anders "had brief moments of discomfort" 6k
Brand, Vance
USA, 1966
      fly  
Near-fatal toxic gas exposure during ASTP re-entry and splashdown See ASTP incident.
Bull, John
USA, 1966
    dur    
Left astronaut corps when it was discovered he had alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
Cernan, Eugene
USA, 1963
  unk      
Has written an autobiography: 1
      fly  
Over-exertion during his extra-vehicular (EVA) activity on Gemini 9. Respiratory rate reached 40 per minute and heart rate 180. He was producing so much carbon dioxide that the spacesuit system could not absorb it 1d .  "The moment the sun went down, Gene got so cold that his visor fogged up" on the inside 6n .  This rendered him almost blind; by rubbing his nose against the faceplate he could clear a small area. Ground flight surgeons and controllers decided to curtail the EVA. Cernan lost 13.5 pounds of weight on the three-day mission. 1d .  When Cernan's spacesuit got back to Houston after the flight, technicians poured a pound and a half of water [sweat?] out of each boot" 6n
      fly  
"I took a deep breath. And burped. The briny taste of that big green pickle I devoured during the last scrub party five days ago returned and would haunt me for the rest of the spacewalk." 1e
      fly  
Also during his EVA on Gemini 9A, he received a "major" sunburn. His exertions had ripped the seams on seven inner layers of heavy insulation in his spacesuit, and the "Sun had baked the exposed triangle of unprotected skin" on his lower back, producing a "fiery sensation." 1f .  Cernan complained to crewmate Stafford that his back was "burning up" 6o
      fly  
Excruciating pain while re-entering the Gemini 9A spacecraft after his EVA. This resulted from the contortions needed to physically get through the hatch and into his seat, while wrapped in a stiff spacesuit. Once again his respiratory rate hit 40 per minute. "The body just wasn't built to fold like a piece of paper.... No bones had broken yet, although I don't know why. I'd never known such pain." Even after he was seated and the hatch was closed, "Air could not get to my lungs, spots danced before my eyes, and incredible agony lanced through me as I clung to the edge of consciousness." The space suit softened as the cabin was pressurized, and the pain abated. 1g His crewmate, Stafford, noted: "When he raised his helmet visor, I saw that his face was a hot pink, like he'd been baked in a sauna too long. I used the water gun to give him a drink and then squirted some in his face." 6n
      fly  
His hands were so swollen from the EVA that the metal ring cuffs on his spacesuit lacerated his skin when he peeled off his gloves. 1h
      fly  
On the Gemini 9A splashdown: "We happened to hit on the face of a wave that gave us a surprisingly strong jolt which bent several shingles on the skin of the spacecraft and practically dazed us." 6p
      fly  
There was so much vibration during the Apollo 10 TLI burn that Cernan could barely read the gauges and Stafford could get only one syllable out at a time. 1i
      fly  
On Apollo 10, inhaled fiberglass particles which were liberated after Cernan opened up the lunar module: "his [Cernan's] hair and eyebrows were full of white flecks of insulation. He looked like a hound dog who'd been in a chicken coop. A Mylar cover on the outside of the command module's tunnel hatch had torn, releasing a cloud of white fiberglass. The particles itched like hell and it took us hours to clean up what we could." 6q
    dur    
A few days before the scheduled liftoff of Apollo 14, for which he was backup commander, Cernan crashed an M-13 Bell helicopter while flying low over a river by Cape Canaveral. The water was so clear and smooth that he had lost track of where the surface was. The helicopter's left skid caught, causing the crash. Cernan may have lost consciousness for a brief time, but was able to egress the aircraft. He suffered a bump on his head and singed eyebrows. Cernan later described it as "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride." 1j 4t
    dur    
Prostate infection, a few months before Apollo 17 launch. 1k
      fly  
Severe hyperextension injury of right calf muscle tendon while running the bases in a softball game less than two months before Apollo 17 launch. "Now the flight surgeon was massaging my rectum for the prostate and my leg for the tendon, keeping his mouth shut about both problems.... The man was a great doctor, a terrific liar, and an even better friend." 1l The leg was still sore on launch day. 1m
      fly  
Oral herpes during Apollo 17, probably arising after leaving the moon. 21a
Chaffee, Roger
USA, 1963
    dur    
Died 1967 with Gus Grissom and Ed White in the Apollo 1 fire See APOLLO1FIRE incident.
Collins, Michael
USA, 1963
  unk      
Has written an autobiography: 22
  unk      
Has written a book: 13
  unk      
Has perhaps drafted a book called "Space Machine" -- but it has not been published.
      fly  
Mild case of the bends on Gemini 10: "My left knee has been aching for the last couple of hours, an indication that my preflight nitrogen purge has not worked 100%." Interferes with his sleep 13d This information was withheld from the ground 21b
      fly  
Both crewmembers experience eye irritation simultaneously on Gemini 10 13e
pre        
Ejected and injured spine.
    dur    
Spine operation.
      fly  
All Apollo 11 crew members took an anti-motion sickness pill before re-entry and after splashdown. "At all costs we must not throw up in the biological isolation garments that the swimmers will throw in to us." 13b
Conrad, Charles "Pete"
USA, 1962
  unk      
Is the subject of a book: 23
pre        
During the Rorschach inkblot test in 1959, doctors routinely slipped a blank white card into the deck. Conrad "baffled the doctors by insisting it was upside down." 5j 24a
pre        
During the 1959 selection, Conrad was examined by Brigadier General Al Schwictenberg and other physicians at the Lovelace Clinic. "Conrad is one of those people who manage a bowel movement about every third day, and the doctors made an issue over his inability to give a fecal sample. Finally he produced one the size of a coffee bean, and with some pride brought it to the clinic in a one-pint container. Plunking it on Schwictenberg's desk he said triumphantly, `This is for you, General.'" 5k
pre        
"Conrad was rejected for Mercury [in the 1959 selection] because, according to the doctors, his personality would not adapt to the isolation of a spaceflight. How wrong can you be?" Conrad later went on to set two American endurance records (Gemini 5 and Skylab 2) and walk on the moon. 5j
      fly  
After the Gemini 5 mission "Gordo and Pete were wobbly (who wouldn't have been, after sitting in the front seat of a Volkswagen for eight days), but they were still in good shape" 6e
      fly  
Dislocated finger while fooling around during exercise on Skylab 2 13f
      fly  
Cooper and Conrad were the first Americans to defecate in space, aboard Gemini 5.

In those days, space crews were kept on a "low-residue" diet for two weeks before their missions. 10h (Given Conrad's bowel habits, described above, it seems reasonable to conclude that Cooper was actually the first.)

        pos
Died of complications from motorcycle accident, July 8, 1999.
Cunningham, Walter
USA, 1963
  unk      
Has written an autobiography: 25
      fly  
When urinating on Apollo 7, Cunningham instinctively turned his back to the window, prompting Schirra to ask "Walt, who is out there?" 5h
      fly  
The Apollo 7 crew disobeyed a direct order to wear their helmets during re-entry, because all had headcolds and worried about rupturing an ear drum. 1b See APOLLO7EARDRUM incident.
Duke, Charles
USA, 1966
  unk      
Has written an autobiography: 26
      fly  
Got pneumonia just before Apollo 16 launch, so it was postponed 4b
Eisele, Donn
USA, 1963
    dur    
Injured his shoulder during a zero-g airplane flight at Wright-Patterson AFB in 1965. After later aggravating it playing handball, he underwent surgery in January 1966. As a result, he was not announced as a member of the prime crew for Apollo 1 -- "he had been told months before that he would be on the first Apollo crew.  Eisele was distraught. His replacement, Roger Chaffee, died in the Apollo 1 fire in January 1967 6r
      fly  
The Apollo 7 crew disobeyed a direct order to wear their helmets during re-entry, because all had headcolds and worried about rupturing an ear drum. 1b See APOLLO7EARDRUM incident.
        pos
Died on December 2, 1987, of a heart attack in Tokyo [Encyclopedia Astronautica]
Evans, Ronald E.
USA, 1966
pre        
Cigarette smoker 1m
        pos
Died of a heart attack April 6, 1990 (age 56) [Encyclopedia Astronautica] Died during sleep. 1n
Freeman, Theodore
USA, 1963
    dur    
Killed 1964 when his T-38 jet hit a goose
Givens, Edward
USA, 1966
    dur    
Died June 6, 1967 when he ran off the road and rolled his Volkswagen. He was driving back to Houston after a party. 4u .  Alcohol was not involved 6s
Gordon, Richard
USA, 1963
  unk      
--
Graveline, Duane
USA, 1965
pre        
Reputed to have a bad temper, which indirectly led to his removal from the astronaut corps. 4v 1o
Haise, Fred
USA, 1966
      fly  
Pseudomonas urinary tract infection during Apollo 13 21c Probably exacerbated or caused by prolonged wearing of the urinary collection device, for which it was not designed 21d Two weeks of antibiotic therapy were required after landing 21c Had the mission lasted another 24 hours, the infection could have become "a serious inflight illness" 21b
        pos
Burns???
Henize, Karl
USA, 1967
        pos
Died of high altitude pulmonary edema on October 5, 1993, while climbing Mt. Everest. He is buried there. [Encyclopedia Astronautica]
Irwin, James
USA, 1966
      fly  
PVCs and bigeminal rhythm during Apollo 15. Upon return to earth, he was found to be hypokalemic. Potassium prophylaxis was therefore instituted for the remaining moon flights 21e leading to the famous potassium-fortified orange-juice incident with John Young on Apollo 16.

It was later realized that Irwin's arrhythmias were a maninfestation of undetected coronary artery disease. 21f

        pos
Had myocardial infarction (heart attack) about two years after the Apollo 15 flight. 21f
        pos
Died Aug. 8, 1991 of a heart attack
Lovell, James A.
USA, 1962
  unk      
Has written an autobiography: 27
pre        
Had "minor liver ailment" that disqualified him in 1959 Mercury selection 4w 5k
      fly  
After 11 (of 14) long days in orbit on Gemini 7, both Borman and Lovell experienced "quite an emotional letdown" as they saw Gemini 6A fly away 6m
      fly  
On Apollo 8, Borman became frankly ill on the trip to the moon. Crewmates Lovell and Anders "had brief moments of discomfort" 6k
      fly  
Took dexedrine toward the end of the Apollo 13 mission, after all the critical work had been done 4x
Mattingly, Thomas Kenneth
USA, 1966
      fly  
Exposed to German measles (rubella) just before Apollo 13 launch, so he's removed from the mission. He never came down with the illness.
McDivitt, James
USA, 1962
  unk      
--
Mitchell, Edgar D.
USA, 1966
  unk      
Has written a book: 28
O'Leary, Brian
USA, 1967
  unk      
Has written an autobiography: 29
Overmyer, Robert
USA, 1969
        pos
Died March 22, 1996 in the crash of a light aircraft he was testing.
Peterson, Donald
USA, 1969
    dur    
Positive treadmill test circa 1974 led to removal from flight status. Underwent cardiac catheterization which disclosed ???. Was ultimately returned to flight status. [source = 2000 Aerospace Medical Association meeting]
Pogue, William
USA, 1966
  unk      
Has written a book: 30
  unk      
Has written a book: 31
pre        
Known as "Old Lead-ear" because of his tolerance to pre-flight vestibular tests. 13g
      fly  
Space-sick on Skylab.
      fly  
"Farting about 500 times a day" on Skylab. 13h
      fly  
Insomnia on Skylab, which he attributed to stress. 13h
Roosa, Stuart
USA, 1966
        pos
Died Dec. 12, 1994 of pancreatic cancer, complicated by viral pneumonia
Schmitt, Harrison Hagan "Jack"
USA, 1965
pre        
Underwent partial colectomy in 1960 for congenital malrotation "of the intestines." When applying for the astronaut program, "as you can imagine, Air Force doctors and NASA doctors, who are used to eliminating anybody with any abnormality, were not too enthusiastic (as I gathered) about my becoming an astronaut. But Dr. Lovelace apparently was asked to review the case. He went to the surgeon -- a Dr. Claude Welch, a famous surgeon at Massachussetts General Hosptial, who did the surgery back in 1960 -- and they reviewed it and concluded that I would, as in Dr. Lovelace's words, 'would be better off than anybody else because of the geometry of my intestinal tracts.'" [Source = Schmitt interview for NASA Oral History Project, 14 July 1999]
  unk      
Schmitt has commented about medical aspects of the selection of his group of astronauts: "I think that everybody in our group had something that potentially could have eliminated them if you applied the strict standards that the Air Force normally would apply to a young pilot.... whether it's eyesight or a bout of osteomyelitis, which one of the people had and came through okay on, but another didn't." [Source = Schmitt interview for NASA Oral History Project, 14 July 1999]
    dur    
While in pilot training at Williams AFB in 1965-66, broke his elbow in a basketball game. He could not fly for several weeks, then had to make up for lost time when he returned to flying duty. "It meant an awful lot of flying, awfully fast. Which was fine. That's the best way to learn, I think, is just to get all your flying in at once." [Source = Schmitt interview for NASA Oral History Project, 14 July 1999]
      fly  
Lunar dust made him sneeze 1p
Schweikart, Russel "Rusty"
USA, 1963
      fly  
Space sick on Apollo 9. Vomited. Described as "Sicker than hell." His EVA was postponed and scaled back 6t The Tom Hanks mini-series for HBO, "From the Earth to the Moon," clearly says this is why Schweikart was never again assigned to a space crew.
Scott, David
USA, 1963
  unk      
Has co-written a book: 32
See, Elliott
USA, 1962
    dur    
Died with Charles Bassett in 1966 when his T-38 jet crashed while attempting to land in St. Louis
Stafford, Thomas P.
USA, 1962
  unk      
Has written an autobiography: 6
pre        
Weighed 4.5 pounds at birth. Grew to 6 feet 0 inches, 185 pounds in high school 6u .  During early years as astronaut he weighed 175 lbs 6v
      fly  
Slept only about 4 hours the first night of the Gemini 6A mission 6m
      fly  
On the Gemini 9A splashdown: "We happened to hit on the face of a wave that gave us a surprisingly strong jolt which bent several shingles on the skin of the spacecraft and practically dazed us." 6p
      fly  
There was so much vibration during the Apollo 10 TLI burn that Cernan could barely read the gauges and Stafford could get only one syllable out at a time. 1i Stafford says: "We could not read dials on the control panel" 6w
      fly  
On Apollo 10, inhaled fiberglass particles which were liberated into the spacecraft's air after the lunar module was opened up. Itchy, too 6q (See entry for Cernan)
    dur    
"Minor skin cancer" January 1971 6x
    dur    
"Hobbling from a knee injury in a recent motorcycle accident" July 1971 6x
      fly  
Ate Soviet space food on the ASTP flight and vomited. Had to take 3 lomotil pills to settle his stomach 25a .  Stafford does not mention this incident in his autobiography.
      fly  
Near-fatal toxic gas exposure during ASTP re-entry and splashdown See ASTP incident.
        pos
"Recovering from surgery at home" circa December 1994 6y
Swigert, John L.
USA, 1966
        pos
Died December 27, 1982 of lymphoma
White, Edward H.
USA, 1962
    dur    
White barely missed being an Olympic hurdler and was regarded as one of the best physical specimens in the astronaut office 33a .  This actually got him in trouble. A reader has relayed a reminiscence by NASA flight surgeon Robert H. Moser ("My romance with space." The Pharos (of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society), Autumn 2003, pp. 11-17.) that describes how White was almost removed from the Gemini 4 flight because of concerns that his heart rate (52 beats per minute at rest and 70 per minute after exercise) could predispose him to fainting. White nearly panicked upon hearing this. Moser prevailed upon upper echelons to let White fly. Simultaneously, he and White developed and tested a secret plan to have White take atropine during the flight if his heart rate dropped to 50. (Atropine speeds the heart rate, but has numerous adverse effects, so this was a daring plan, to say the least.) White's performance on the Gemini 4 flight was outstanding, and his heart rate never went below 62. Comment: Today, it is well recognized that highly fit persons may have resting heart rates considered low by normal standards. In fact, an awake resting heart rate in the low 50s is common in military personnel. NASA consultant Paul Dudley White understood this, even in the 1940s, when he helped world-class runner Leslie MacMitchell enlist in the Navy despite a resting heart rate of 37 [Hearts: Their Long Follow-up, by PD White and H Donovan. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1967. Page 8] Apparently NASA did not consult Dr. White in the case of astronaut White.
    dur    
"No astronaut surpassed [White] for sheer physical strength" 33b   As command module pilot for Apollo, strength was necessary to operate the hatch: "The man in the center couch had to reach back over his head, undo the bolts using a special tool, and then lower it out of the way. ... For exercise, White and his backup, Dave Scott, used to practice opening the hatch; it was like pressing a couple hundred pounds at the gym" 33b The difficulty of opening the hatch, and the resulting inability to escape from the spacecraft, was a key factor in the deaths of White, Gus Grissom, and Roger Chaffee in the 1967 launchpad Apollo 1 fire See APOLLO1FIRE incident.
        pos
During the investigation of the Apollo 1 fire, White's resting heart rate again became an issue. An engineer who reviewed White's EKG tracings found that 42 seconds before the first radio call of a fire White's heart rate had doubled from 60 to 120. With this evidence of a significant increase in physical activity (oxygen consumption had also increased), the investigation board was preparing to conclude the emergency had started at this earlier time. However, Dr. Fred Kelly "knew that Ed White's resting heart rate was normally in the thirties due to his superb physical condition" 12c Kelly discovered that the engineer had misinterpreted the heart rates. "He had assumed, because the rate was so slow, that the chart recorder speed had been set at fifty millimeters per second instead of the normal twenty-five" 12d In actuality, the increase at this 42-second mark had been from a heart rate in the thirties to a heart rate in the sixties, which could have occurred with just a shift in position. The true increase in activity, related to the fire, occurred at 6:31:04 EST. White "got out of his seat, turned around, and wrestled with the Apollo escape hatch for at least sixteen long and frantic seconds before he was overcome" 12e
Williams, Clifton
USA, 1963
    dur    
Died 1967 in the crash of his T-38 jet
Young, John Watts
USA, 1962
      fly  
Parachute deployment during Gemini 3 re-entry was so violent that Young's helmet faceplate was cracked from impacting a window in the spacecraft. The same maneuver also punched a hole in the faceplate of his Gemini 3 crewmate, Grissom, and cracked Schirra's faceplate on Gemini 6A 6f
      fly  
Got seasick while bobbing in his Gemini 3 spacecraft after splashdown. 3d 6g
      fly  
Both crewmembers experience eye irritation simultaneously on Gemini 10 13e
      fly  
On Apollo 10, inhaled fiberglass particles which were liberated into the spacecraft's air after the lunar module was opened up. Itchy, too 6q (See entry for Cernan)
      fly  
Uncomfortable flatus on the moon during Apollo 16, due to potassium-fortified orange juice.
Shuttle
Name, Country, Year When Description
PRE UNK DUR FLY POS
Anderson, Michael
USA, 1994
      fly  
Died February 1, 2003 in the Columbia STS-107 accident.
Blaha, John
USA, 1980
      fly  
Clinically depressed aboard Mir 7j
Brandenstein, Daniel
USA, 1978
    dur    
Markedly color blind. [NASA accused of failing to ground medically unfit. Chriss, NC. Houston Chronicle. 12 February 1989; 1A, 14A, 15A]
Brown, David
USA, 1996
      fly  
Died February 1, 2003 in the Columbia STS-107 accident.
Carter, M. L. "Sonny"
USA, 1984
    dur    
Died April 5, 1991 in crash of commercial commuter aircraft, while on NASA business travel.
Chawla, Kalpana
USA, 1994
      fly  
Died February 1, 2003 in the Columbia STS-107 accident.
Clark, Laurel Salton
USA, 1996
      fly  
Died February 1, 2003 in the Columbia STS-107 accident.
Dunbar, Bonnie
USA, 1980
    dur    
Almost dies on October 16, 1994 from anaphylactic shock during a ground-based research experiment that involves the injection of inulin. She later accused the attending flight surgeon of administering an incorrect, dangerous treatment, but a NASA review board found his actions were "appropriate and potentially life-saving." 7k
    dur    
Subsequent to the anaphylaxis incident, an abnormality appeared on her electrocardiogram, causing removal from flight status. Dunbar reportedly cried and railed at the flight surgeon who broke the news. She was returned to flight status a week later, but the Russians medically disqualified her from the Shuttle-Mir project until political pressure was applied. 7l
Foale, C. Michael
USA, 1987
  unk      
Is the subject of a book: 34
Garn, Jake
USA, 0
  unk      
Has written a book: 35
      fly  
Space sick. His novel contains a first-person description of space sickness, which we can assume is based on Garn's personal experience 35a "Vonberger's sickness didn't hit him until just before dinner. He had been fighting it for a few hours, but as soon as Williams announced that it was time for dinner, Alex Vonberger got sick. And he stayed sick for a day and a half.... Vonberger's first night in space was miserable. Everything was wrong. His insides felt like they were being twisted and squeezed into a golf ball. The nausea and pain were so all-encompassing that his feet and hands hurt."
Griggs, S. David
USA, 1978
    dur    
Died June 17, 1989 when his World War II era aircraft crashed. At that time, he was in flight crew training as pilot for STS-33, which was scheduled for launch two months later.
Hauck, Frederick "Rick"
USA, 1978
    dur    
Recurrent kidney stones. [NASA accused of failing to ground medically unfit. Chriss, NC. Houston Chronicle. 12 February 1989; 1A, 14A, 15A]
Husband, Rick
USA, 1994
      fly  
Died February 1, 2003 in the Columbia STS-107 accident.
Jarvis, Gregory
USA, 0
      fly  
Died January 28, 1986 in the Challenger 51-L accident.
Linenger, Jerry
USA, 1992
  unk      
Has written an autobiography: 36
Lucid, Shannon
USA, 1978
    dur    
In the wake of Bonnie Dunbar's severe reaction to inulin, Lucid announces that she had had a milder reaction to the same compound during a fall 1993 ground test associated with STS-58. 7m
McAuliffe, Christa
USA, 0
      fly  
Died January 28, 1986 in the Challenger 51-L accident.
McCool, William
USA, 1996
      fly  
Died February 1, 2003 in the Columbia STS-107 accident.
McNair, Ronald
USA, 1978
      fly  
Died January 28, 1986 in the Challenger 51-L accident.
Onizuka, Ellison
USA, 1978
      fly  
Died January 28, 1986 in the Challenger 51-L accident.
Resnick, Judith
USA, 1978
      fly  
Died January 28, 1986 in the Challenger 51-L accident.
Robertson, Patricia Hilliard
USA, 1998
    dur    
Died after the crash of a private airplane.
Scobee, Frances
USA, 1978
      fly  
Died January 28, 1986 in the Challenger 51-L accident.
Smith, Michael
USA, 1980
      fly  
Died January 28, 1986 in the Challenger 51-L accident.
Thomas, Andrew
USA, 1992
      fly  
Aboard Mir, gets headaches from carbon monoxide 7n
Thomas, Donald
USA, 1990
    dur    
Was bumped in July 2002 from the ISS Expedition-6 mission "because of doctors' concerns about his radiation exposure in space" [ref1, ref2]. Thomas was replaced by his backup, Don Pettit, four months before liftoff. Thomas' three previous space missions had a total duration of 825 hours. Comment: Given that his most recent prior mission was in 1997, Thomas' cumulative radiation exposure in space should have been known years before he was even assigned to the Expedition-6 crew. [ref1 = Rookie Astronaut to Go on Spacewalk. By Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer, posted: 04:30 pm ET, 07 January 2003, http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/pettit_eva_030107.html] [ref2 = Expedition Six Crew Ready for Long Duration ISS Stay. By Jim Banke, Senior Producer, Cape Canaveral Bureau of space.com, posted: 07:00 am ET, 10 November 2002, http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/sts113_exp6_021110.html]
Thorne, Stephen
USA, 1985
    dur    
Died May 24, 1986 in the crash of an airplane in which he was a passenger.
Thuot, Pierre
USA, 1985
pre        
Myopia (see below)
      fly  
Did he use contact lenses on the space shuttle? The Whitten web site (see below) says: "Millions of people use contact lenses, but very, very few of them attempt to use contacts while orbiting the earth in the Space Shuttle."
        pos
Had LASIK corneal surgery in January 2000. Since then he has appeared in newspaper advertisements for Whitten Laser Eye Associates (example: ).

The Whitten web site says Thuot was nearsighted, but now has uncorrected 20/20 vision, enabling him to "see the world, in a whole new way."

NOTE: As of April 2001, this type of eye surgery will disqualify you for military aviation duties and for the astronaut program. Thuot had his operation after leaving NASA and, one would wager, after leaving the US Navy. [Source: http://www.whittenlasereye.com/newsletter/journal3.cfm, accessed on 19 April 2001]

Veach, Lacy
USA, 1984
    dur    
Died of cancer on October 3, 1995
Walker, David
USA, 1978
        pos
Died, presumably of cancer, at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston on April 23, 2001 at age 56. The day before he died, NASA arranged a private link to the International Space Station so Walker could say goodbye to his close friend James Voss, who was aboard the station. [Aviation Week, 30 April 2001, page 29]
Other
Name, Country, Year When Description
PRE UNK DUR FLY POS
Belyayev, Pavel
USSR, 1960
      fly  
During re-entry of Voskhod 2 in 1965, the spherical spacecraft and its instrument module did not separate cleanly. As a result Belyayev and Leonov pulled at least 10 Gs and "suffered burst blood vessels in their eyes because of this." 6z (From this description it is unclear whether retinal or conjunctival vessels burst.)
      fly  
Belyayev and Leonov landed their Voskhod 2 spacecraft in a remote forest in the Ural Mountains, and had to spend the night. One medical hazard they faced: being eaten. A black bear tried throughout the night to get to them. 10l
    dur    
Died of complications from stomach disease
Bondarenko, Valentin
USSR, 1960
    dur    
Died March 23, 1961 in a fire in an altitude chamber filled with pure-oxygen. He was in the tenth day of a planned fifteen-day simulated flight. (Note that this was years before the Apollo 1 fire.) "By the time doctors and technicians could open the door and rescue Bondarenko, he had been so severely burned that he died within hours." 6aa
Budarin, Nikolai Mikhailovich
USSR, 1989
      fly  
Was barred from making a spacewalk in January 2003 "because on-orbit medical data raised concerns among U.S. flight surgeons responsible for medical certification of spacewalk activity" [NASA Press Release H03-007 (January 7, 2003)]. The Americans gave no medical details, but Russian doctors disclosed that "The peculiarities of his cardiovascular system are known to us, he had them on previous flights as well" [Russian Doctors Reveal Cosmonaut's Medical Condition. By Steve Gutterman, Associated Press Writer, posted: 01:30 pm ET, 08 January 2003, http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/exp6_ap_030108.html]. Comment: This undoubtedly refers to a cardiac arrhythmia.
Dobrovolsky, Georgi
USSR, 1963
      fly  
Died June 6, 1971 during re-entry of Soyuz 11. See SOYUZ11 incident.
Komarov, Vladimir
USSR, 1960
      fly  
Died April 23, 1967 during re-entry of Soyuz 1.

His conversation with Soviet ground controllers was recorded in full by the National Security Agency. One of the intercept operators recalled what they heard 37a

"They couldn't get the chute that slowed his craft down in re-entry to work. They knew what the problem was for about two hours... and were fighting to correct it. It was all in Russian, of course, but we taped it and listened to it a couple of times afterward. Kosygin [then-premier of the USSR] called him personally. They had a video-phone conversation. Kosygin was crying. He told him he was a hero and that he had made the greatest achievment in Russian history, that they were proud, and that he'd be remembered. The guy's wife got on too. They talked for a while. He told her how to handle their affairs and what to do with the kids. It was pretty awful. Toward the last few minutes he began falling apart, saying `I don't want to die, you've got to do something.' Then there was just a scream as he died. I guess he was incinerated."

[I am not sure whether to believe this. If his spacecraft were enveloped in incinerating plasma (hot gas), then wouldn't the plasma have blocked radio transmissions?]

Kubasov, Valeri
USSR, 1966
      fly  
Was flight engineer on the prime crew for the Soyuz 11 mission in 1971, but was grounded by physicians a few days before launch "because of a spot on his lung" 6ab .  As a result, the entire backup crew was launched instead, and died during re-entry. See SOYUZ11 incident.
Lazarev, Vasili
USSR, 1964
      fly  
Pulled +20.6 Gs on re-entry of Soyuz 18-1 spacecraft, which then tumbled down a mountainside upon landing. See SOYUZ18 incident.

Suffered internal injuries and never flew again. He failed a physical in early 1981.

Lazutkin, Aleksandr
USSR, 1992
      fly  
Awakens one morning on Mir with "eyes the size of golf balls." The condition was apparently caused when Lazutkin wiped his eyes with a finger that had ethylene glycol on it. This happened around the time that Russian flight surgeons had said ethylene glycol was harmless. The condition lasts only a few days and causes no permanent effects. 7g
Leonov, Alexsei
USSR, 1960
  unk      
Has co-written a book: 32
      fly  
Almost died on his pioneering 1965 spacewalk 1q .  He had to fight his spacesuit to re-enter the spacecraft. He was red-faced, with a heart rate of 143 6z
      fly  
During re-entry of Voskhod 2 in 1965, the spherical spacecraft and its instrument module did not separate cleanly. As a result Belyayev and Leonov pulled at least 10 Gs and "suffered burst blood vessels in their eyes because of this." 6z (From this description it is unclear whether retinal or conjunctival vessels burst.)
      fly  
Belyayev and Leonov landed their Voskhod 2 spacecraft in a remote forest in the Ural Mountains, and had to spend the night. One medical hazard they faced: being eaten. A black bear tried throughout the night to get to them. 10l
Levchenko, Anatoli
USSR, 1977
    dur    
Died of a brain tumor on August 6, 1988 -- less than 8 months after his 8 day flight on Soyuz TM-4 [Encyclopedia Astronautica]
Makarov, Oleg
USSR, 1966
      fly  
Pulled +20.6 Gs on re-entry of Soyuz 18-1 spacecraft, which then tumbled down a mountainside upon landing. See SOYUZ18 incident.
Nikolayev, Andrian
USSR, 1960
      fly  
In 1970 he and his crewmate Vitaly Sevastyanov set an endurance record aboard Soyuz 9 -- 18 days. "They came back in pretty bad shape, however. They had to be carried from the spacecraft. In a few days, though, they were up and walking around. 4y
Patsayev, Viktor
USSR, 1968
      fly  
Died June 6, 1971 during re-entry of Soyuz 11. See SOYUZ11 incident.
Savitskaya, Svetlana
USSR, 1980
pre        
Although she "was clearly the best qualified" among a group of women being considered to fly in space, her physical attractivness was the deciding factor in her selection. 38a
Sevastyanov, Vitaly
USSR, 1967
      fly  
In 1970 he and his crewmate Andrian Nikolayev set an endurance record aboard Soyuz 9 -- 18 days. "They came back in pretty bad shape, however. They had to be carried from the spacecraft. In a few days, though, they were up and walking around. 4y
Shchukin, Alexandr
USSR, 1977
    dur    
Died August 18, 1988 in crash of Su-26 [Encyclopedia Astronautica]
Tereshkova, Valentina
USSR, 1962
      fly  
Was space-sick during her entire flight and for days afterwards 1r .  Stafford says: "Like Titov, she was also sick from time to time" on her flight 6ac
Titov, Gherman
USSR, 1960
  unk      
Is the subject of a book: 39
      fly  
Was space-sick on his flight in 1960, although this was not disclosed for years. 6ad
Tsibliyev, Vasili
USSR, 1987
      fly  
On Mir, flies head-first through a basketball-sized glob of ethylene glycol 7o
      fly  
On Mir, gets arrhythmia -- ?? from stress 7p
Volkov, Vladislav
USSR, 1966
      fly  
Died June 6, 1971 during re-entry of Soyuz 11. See SOYUZ11 incident.
Ramon, Ilan
Israel, 1997
      fly  
Died February 1, 2003 in the Columbia STS-107 accident.
Remek, Vladimir
Czechoslovakia, 1976
      fly  
Czech guest cosmonaut Vladimir Remek developed a case of "the red hands" on his flight -- the Soviet cosmonaut slapped his hands whenever he tried to touch something. 35b (Remek was the first non-Soviet to fly in a Soviet space vehicle. The source is a novel, but it has the air of truth, and fits with published reports about the extent to which Remek was allowed to do things on the mission.)
Sharman, Helen
UK, 1989
  unk      
Has written an autobiography: 40
Incident Descriptions

Gemini

Apollo

Skylab & ASTP

Shuttle

Mir

Other Russian and Soviet

International Space Station

General

Cited Sources
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    a  pp.355, 357
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    a  p.13  b  p.2  c  p.45  d  pp.47-48, 124  e  pp.49, 65  f  p.5  g  p.59  h  p.125  i  p.1  j  p.33  k  pp.50  l  p.137
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    a  p.36  b  p.89  c  pp.128-129  d  p.128  e  p.130
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    a  p.52  b  pp.12, 13  c  p.90  d  pp.98-99  e  p.100  f  p.190  g  p.189  h  p.191
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    a  pp.Chapter 9
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    Comment: Cunningham published an updated version after the Columbia tragedy.

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    a  p.89  b  p.63

    Comment: Garn was the U.S. Senator from Utah who flew on the Space Shuttle in the 1980s. This book is a novel.

  36. Linenger, Jerry. Off the Planet. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000.
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    a  pp.215-6
  38. Sagdeev, Roald Z.. The Making of a Soviet Scientist. New York: Wiley, 1994.
        
    a  p.227
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  40. Sharman, Helen. Seize the Moment. London: Victor Gollancz, 1993.