March 1, 1924 – American astronaut Deke Slayton is born
American astronaut Donald Kent ‘Deke’ Slayton was born on March 1, 1924. He was one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts. Slayton was initially grounded because of a heart condition but eventually flew on the Apollo-Soyuz Test on July 15, 1975.
“When NASA grounded him, the Air Force followed suit. Slayton resigned his Air Force commission in 1963 and worked for NASA in a civilian capacity as head of Astronaut selection. Unofficially called “Chief Astronaut,” he had the decisive role of choosing the crews for the Gemini and Apollo programs, including the decision of who would be the first person on the moon. In 1972, Slayton was awarded the Society of Experimental Test Pilots James H. Doolittle Award.
A long medical program led to him being restored to full flight status in 1972, when he was selected as docking module pilot for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, designed to allow a docking between the American Apollo spacecraft and the Soyuz spacecraft of the Soviet Union. On July 17, 1975, the two craft joined up in orbit, and astronauts Slayton, Thomas Stafford and Vance D. Brand conducted crew transfers with cosmonauts Aleksey A. Leonov and Valeriy Kubasov.”