Typed memo, signed "Edward H. White II," three pages, 8 x 10.5, February 26, 1963. A memorandum issued to Major Deke Slayton, headed "Astronaut Training Course Critique, October 15-February 6, 1963." White offers his thoughts on a course designed to "orient and instruct our group to be able to provide an early engineering and pilot participation in the development of the Gemini and Apollo Projects." Under "Individual Subject Critique," he notes: "The system reviews in Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo were generally well done…The use of engineers to teach academic courses (flight mechanics, propulsion, and aerodynamics) met with very little success…The astronomy course given by Professor Prouse was excellent…The computer course given by Professor Smith was good but he moved too fast…The flight mechanics course given by Professor Buning was excellent and should be given earlier in the program…The MIT guidance and navigation course should go more into fundamentals on the general guidance and navigation methods. The specific references to the Apollo system were poor in that the system is not yet developed and were therefore rather confusing and misleading…The field trips were all worthwhile except that on the first few too many stops were crammed into one outing. A trip to Rocketdyne should be included." White goes on to provide some conclusions and recommendations based on the previous points. In fine condition, with a couple staple holes to upper left corner tip. Also includes two uncommon softcover books: On the Shoulders of Titans: A History of Project Gemini, published by NASA in 1977, and Project Gemini: Technology and Operations, A Chronology, published by NASA in 1969 as part of their Historical Series. Both volumes were prepared by Barton C. Hacker and James M. Grimwood.
White critiques an introductory course that began one month after his selection as part of NASA's Group 2 Astronauts, which also included Neil Armstrong, Frank Borman, Pete Conrad, Jim Lovell, Jim McDivitt, Elliot See, Tom Stafford, and John Young—perhaps the most accomplished and prolific of any Astronaut Group. He writes to Deke Slayton, who, after having been selected as part of Group 1, was grounded in 1962 due to an irregular heart rhythm and transitioned into the role of Coordinator of Astronaut Activities; in November 1963, he would resign his commission as an Air Force Major to assume the role of Director of Flight Crew Operations. It would be two years before any of the Group 2 astronauts flew in space, the first being John Young on Gemini 3 in March 1965; White and McDivitt followed with Gemini 4 in June. In the interim period, the astronauts underwent exhaustive training in all of the elements they were introduced to in this first course. White's suggestions surely guided their future instruction and helped to develop curriculum for future Astronaut Groups. A remarkable piece of early NASA history.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.