Mr. Slayton was named as
one of the Mercury astronauts in April 1959. He was
originally scheduled to pilot the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission
but was relieved of this assignment due to a heart
condition discovered in August 1959.
Slayton became Coordinator of Astronaut Activities in
September 1962 and was responsible for the operation of
the astronaut office. In November 1963, he resigned his
commission as an Air Force Major to assume the role of
Director of Flight Crew Operations. In this capacity, he
was responsible for directing the activities of the
astronaut office, the aircraft operations office, the
flight crew integration division, the crew training and
simulation division, and the crew procedures division.
Slayton was restored to full flight status and certified
eligible for manned space flights in March 1972, following
a comprehensive review of his medical status by NASA’s
Director of Life Sciences and the Federal Aviation Agency.
Mr. Slayton made his first space flight as Apollo
docking module pilot of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP)
mission, July 15-24, 1975—a joint space flight culminating
in the first historical meeting in space between American
astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts. Completing the United
States flight crew for this 9-day earth-orbital mission
were Thomas P. Stafford (Apollo commander) and Vance D.
Brand (Apollo command module Pilot). In the Soviet
spacecraft were cosmonauts Alexey Leonov (Soyuz commander)
and Valeriy Kubasov (Soyuz flight engineer). The crewmen
of both nations participated in a rendezvous and
subsequent docking, with Apollo the active spacecraft. The
event marked the successful testing of a universal docking
system and signaled a major advance in efforts to pave the
way for the conduct of joint experiments and/or the
exchange of mutual assistance in future international
space explorations. There were 44 hours of docked joint
activities during ASTP, highlighted by four crew transfers
and the completion of a number of joint scientific
experiments and engineering investigations. All major ASTP
objectives were accomplished and included: testing a
compatible rendezvous system in orbit; testing of
androgynous docking assemblies; verifying techniques for
crew transfers; and gaining experience in the conduct of
joint international flights. Apollo splashed down in the
Pacific Ocean near Hawaii and was quickly recovered by the
USS New Orleans. Slayton logged 217 hours and 28
minutes in his first space flight.
From December 1975 through November 1977, Slayton
served as Manager for Approach and Landing Test Project.
He directed the Space Shuttle approach and landing test
project through a series of critical orbiter flight tests
that allowed in-flight test and checkout of flight
controls and orbiter subsystems and permitted extensive
evaluations of the orbiter’s subsonic flying qualities and
He next served as Manager for Orbital Flight Test,
directing orbital flight mission preparations and
conducting mission operations. He was responsible for OFT
operations scheduling, mission configuration control,
preflight stack configuration control, as well as
conducting planning reviews, mission readiness reviews,
and postflight mission evaluations. He was also
responsible for the 747/orbiter ferry program.
Slayton retired from NASA in 1982. He was president of
Space Services Inc., of Houston, a company he founded to
develop rockets for small commercial payloads.