Saturday, April 13, 2013

Missions We're Glad Didn't Happen: Grissom, Borman and Aldrin Fly Apollo 11, 1969


A proposed mission patch. (This was originally album art by Smog; if you sue me, I'll take it down.) I'm no artist. 

So here's some alternate NASA history, had Deke Slayton won the lottery, left NASA temporarily, and crowned Wally Schirra as the man in charge of mission selections. Wally, of course, was known to have a bit of fun and would have stuck Gus Grissom, Frank Borman and Buzz Aldrin together. On a lunar mission. In the same capsule and lunar module. For days. God help us all. 

It has been said that the only thing Grissom and Borman had in common was a mutual dislike of Buzz Aldrin. Grissom and Borman were supposed to fly Gemini 3 together, but it soon was apparent that they would have punched each others' lights out and this idea was nixed. Borman was replaced with affable Floridian John Young, who, despite an intense love of cramming sandwich meats into his pressure suit, had a great relationship with good ol' Gus. 

It can also be assumed that Gus would have been the first man on the moon (according to Deke Slayton's excellent autobiography, Deke!), so let's assume had he lived, this would have happened. Yep. Except a certain joker would have stuck him with two people he couldn't stand.

Instead of having extra rations, Apollo 11 would have had EXTRA RAGE. Some mission highlights: 
  • Frank would have directed his stream of vomit and diarrhea into Gus' crew cut. 
  • Gus would have invited Frank to put his sweet lips next to his fist. 
  • Everyone involved would have had a black eye. 
  • There would have been two pictures of Gus on the moon, and 11,000 of Buzz posing with his bling. ON THE MOON. 
  • Mission control would have descended into chaos and uncontrollable laughter, wherein Chris Craft and Gene Kranz would have given up on listening at some point and would have just started eating a giant bowl of movie butter popcorn. 
  • The transcripts would have been destroyed; anyone discussing them would have been immediately fired. 
  • Lastly but not least importantly, Gus and Frank would have somehow patched up their differences on the way home, and would have instead directed their rage at Buzz. 
  • As heard on the squawk box: "Hey Gus, you know, those Mercury missions were easy. A monkey did them, you know. So easy." "OH GURL NO YOU DIDN'T." (Fists fly)
Some other highlights would have involved the reactions of their colleagues. Here is a selection, and once again, in my timeline everyone is alive and well:
  • Jim McDivitt: "I am so disturbed I can't even joke about this!" (Crying)
  • Ed White: "I am so disturbed I couldn't even finish my lunch. I only had two steaks, as opposed to my customary three."
  • Al Worden: "So, you think Dave Scott and I had a difficult working relationship? Ha! Pour this sweet cream into your coffee. Chapter 12 of my book is called, 'Pour This Sweet Cream Into Your Coffee: Also, They Made Grissom, Borman and Aldrin Work Together.'"
  • Mike Collins: "The sequel to my snarky tell-all book is now called, 'Carrying the Ire.'"
  • John Young: "So Gus came back an' told little ol' meh about his mission. Ah laughed and then he punched me in the face. He also got mad at meh because ah got Frank a cup of coffee. Heh heh heh!"
  • Rusty Schweickart: "I don't have an opinion about this, because I'm only 15!"
  • Neil Armstrong: "That's one small mistake for [a] man, one giant setback for mankind."
  • Gene Cernan: "Those guys were all sumbitches and [insert unprintable expletive here]."
  • Al Bean would have painted a commemorative painting depicting an astronaut looking up from the moon, and a fist would have been in place of the Earth. 
The men of Apollo 11 did come back, safe and sound, slightly dripping with seawater and the tears of their colleagues. Gus and Deke would have still been best friends despite all of this, and would tool around in Corvettes on Deke's private island in the Caribbean (remember, he won the lottery). I don't know if Gus would have ever forgiven Wally. It's no wonder he would go on to pick an all-BFFs crew for Apollo 12. 

Thanks to my friend Laura for supplying ideas for this!