MERCURY ASTRONAUT DONALD K. "DEKE" SLAYTON DECEASED
Donald K. "Deke" Slayton, 69, one of the United States' original seven astronauts selected by NASA for the Mercury Program in 1959, died
June 13, 1993, of complications of a brain tumor.
Born March 1, 1924, in Sparta, Wi., Slayton flew as Apollo docking module pilot for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975, a joint United States-Soviet Union space flight that culminated in the first and only meeting to date in space of astronauts and cosmonauts. Slayton was named by NASA as an astronaut in April 1959, and was originally scheduled to pilot the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission, an assignment that was later changed due to a diagnosed heart condition. The mission was subsequently flown by M. Scott Carpenter in May 1962.
Slayton went on to become chief of astronaut activities in September 1962 and was responsible for the operations of the astronaut office. In November 1963, he resigned a commission as an Air Force Major to become Director of Flight Crew Operations for NASA, responsible for directing activities of the astronaut office, aircraft operations office, flight crew integration division, crew training and simulation division, and crew procedures division.
In March 1972, Slayton was restored to full flight status and certified eligible for space flight following a review of his medical status by NASA's director of life sciences and the Federal Aviation Administration. His fellow crew members for Apollo-Soyuz were Thomas P. Stafford and Vance D. Brand.- more -
In December 1975, Slayton became manager for the Space Shuttle Program's Approach and Landing Test Project. As manager, Slayton directed the project, which included five landings by the test orbiter Enterprise, dropped from a carrier airplane to simulate the final 20,000 feet of a shuttle landing. The project checked out the shuttle's flight control systems and evaluated its subsonic flying qualities.
From November 1977 through February 1982, Slayton was manager of the Space Shuttle's Orbital Flight Test Project, directing preparations for and overseeing operations of the first two shuttle missions. His responsibilities included scheduling, mission configuration, mission readiness reviews, postflight mission evaluations and ferry operations with the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
Slayton retired from NASA in February 1982. At the time of his death, he served as president of Space Services, Inc., Houston, and as a consultant to several aerospace corporations, among other positions.
Among the orginal seven astronauts, Slayton was preceded in death by Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, killed in an Apollo spacecraft fire on the launch pad Jan. 27, 1967. Slayton is survived by his wife, Bobbie, and son, Kent.
Slayton entered the Air Force as an aviation cadet, receiving his wings in April 1943. During World War II, he flew 56 combat missions over Europe as a B-25 pilot. He returned to the U.S. in 1944 and served as a B-25 instructor pilot. In 1945, he was sent to Okinawa and flew seven combat missions over Japan. He later left the Air Force to attend the University of Minnesota, receiving a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1949. In 1951, he was recalled to active duty by the Minnesota Air National Guard, assigned as a maintenance flight test officer of an F-51 squadron in Minneapolis.
After two overseas assignments, Slayton attended the Air Force Test Pilot School in 1955 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. He served as a test pilot at Edwards from January 1956 to April 1959, when he was named an astronaut.
Slayton's honors include the NASA Exceptional Service Medal; two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals; four NASA Distinguished Service Medals; the Collier Trophy; the SETP Iven C. Kincheloe Award; the General Billy Mitchell Award; the SETP J.H. Doolittle Award for 1972; the National- more -
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Institute of Social Science's Gold Medal in 1975; the Wright Brothers International Manned Space Flight Award in 1975; the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Space Award in 1976; the Federation Aeronautique Internationale's Yuri Gagarin Gold Medal in 1976; the American Heart Association's Heart of the Year Award in 1976; the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Special Presidential Citation in 1977; the Houston Area's Federal Business Association's Civil Servant of the Year Award in 1977; and the AIAA Haley Astronautics Award in 1978, among others.--end--
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