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myths of heaven
October 4, 2013 12:41 PM   Subscribe

Joan Roosa, wife of Apollo 14 Lunar Module Pilot Stu Roosa, recalled "I was at a party one night in Houston. A woman standing behind me, who had no idea who I was, said 'I've slept with every astronaut who has been to the Moon.' ...I said 'Pardon me, but I don't think so'".
posted by four panels (53 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Correction, Stu Roosa was the Command Module Pilot of Apollo 14. Those were the goes who stayed in lunar orbit while their two crew members landed on the moon.

Otherwise, the wives did have it pretty hard. They had almost no support from NASA, yet were expected to play the part of the perfect housewife. Once astronauts realized they could get divorced and not suffer any repercussions flight wise, a lot of divorces and remarrying rapidly occurred.

Mike Collins, the command module pilot on Apollo 11, remains one of favorite astronauts, because he turned the chance to be Commander of Apollo 17 (i.e. walk on the Moon), because the rigorous training for Gemini and Apollo were hard on his wife and he wanted to end that. They're still cheerfully married by all accounts.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:52 PM on October 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


No one has walked on the moon in over 40 years. That's a sobering thought.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:54 PM on October 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm a 51-year-old man and I have never understood the whole "groupie" thing. It just squicks me out.

Call me a hopeless romantic.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:02 PM on October 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


You're a hopeless romantic.
posted by Justinian at 1:08 PM on October 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


Thanks, Justinian. Now call me a cab.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:12 PM on October 4, 2013 [33 favorites]


Astronaut groupies? Talk about your starfuckers.

(I'm sorry.)

AMC should try to recoup its Mad Men budgets by re-using as many sets and props as it can to make a TV show out of The Astronaut's Wives. Because I'd watch the heck out of that.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:15 PM on October 4, 2013 [53 favorites]


One of these days... Bam! Zoom! Straight to the Moon!
posted by hal9k at 1:22 PM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Right Stuff gets a throwaway mention, but I have to say that I found its depiction of the home lives of the wives of the astronauts sad and disturbing as it was-- the one couple feted, the other left with a hotel room and a stocked fridge so that she can cook dinner; the months with barely any support or backup; the grim military quarters.

And we can't even go to the moon now.
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:24 PM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm a 51-year-old man and I have never understood the whole "groupie" thing. It just squicks me out.

Call me a hopeless romantic.


Maybe you're like me and are a hopeless romantic with intractable germ phobias also.

/Grew up during AIDS
posted by Renoroc at 1:24 PM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nope, that's not it at all.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:28 PM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


MCMikeNamara: "AMC should try to recoup its Mad Men budgets by re-using as many sets and props as it can to make a TV show out of The Astronaut's Wives. Because I'd watch the heck out of that."

Ahem.
posted by brundlefly at 1:29 PM on October 4, 2013 [14 favorites]


There was a BBC program on the Astronaut Wives Club a few years back. It was quite good. As as smart and tough as those guys were, their wives were even smarter and tougher.

If memory serves -- there was only one marriage which survived, that of Mike and Patricia Collins (but I stand to be corrected by Brandon Blatcher on that).

The program is worth checking out, if you don't have time for the book.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:31 PM on October 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


No one has walked on the moon in over 40 years. That's a sobering thought.

I dunno; no one walked on it for several billion years before that.
posted by aught at 1:34 PM on October 4, 2013 [20 favorites]


brundlefly's link: http://io9.com/the-writers-of-mad-men-are-pitching-a-show-about-nasa-i-480919214

Eek, too early to write my spec?

And yes, I think The Right Stuff (movie version) did a good job of showing BTS in the families.
posted by NorthernLite at 1:35 PM on October 4, 2013


Lucky one of Buzz Aldrin's wives wasn't there, or things could have gotten ugly.
posted by orme at 1:38 PM on October 4, 2013


"It was hard for them to come home. What could ever compete with that? I was lucky if I could come second.”

reminds me of (Sling and Arrows!) Oliver musing on the dullness of reality after achieving perfection on stage:"Imagine saying to Elizabeth Taylor: "I'm sorry but this relationship is just not working for me".

The human condition: loneliness amidst achievement?
posted by warm_planet at 1:40 PM on October 4, 2013


The Lovells are still married.

One of the episodes of the HBO Apollo series is about the wives, mostly just focusing on their responsibilities and bonding.
posted by Melismata at 1:43 PM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have never understood the whole "groupie" thing.

I don't know. Even if it seems like crass or immoral behavior, it isn't hard to understand why some people dig it. I mean, lots of people like sex and lots of people like celebrities and lots of people like collecting things, so, yeah, it isn't surprising to discover that some people like to collect sex with celebrities.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:48 PM on October 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


No one has walked on the moon in over 40 years. That's a sobering thought.

The youngest human being to have been to the moon is 77 years old. Statistically speaking, we have less than a decade until no living person will have been there.
posted by Etrigan at 1:48 PM on October 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


Not an Apollo astronaut, but on a related note: I had the opportunity to meet John and Annie Glenn at a program a few years ago, and was struck by how sincerely in love they seem to be with each other. They struck me as one of those couples that, when one dies, the other partner dies shortly afterwards from sheer loneliness.
posted by 1367 at 1:53 PM on October 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


No one has walked on the moon in over 40 years. That's a sobering thought.

>I dunno; no one walked on it for several billion years before that.


Pff, that's what they want you to think. Wake up sheeple!
posted by spectrevsrector at 1:58 PM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Once astronauts realized they could get divorced and not suffer any repercussions flight wise, a lot of divorces and remarrying rapidly occurred.

Why should martial status have an impact on flight status?
posted by Mitheral at 1:58 PM on October 4, 2013


If memory serves -- there was only one marriage which survived, that of Mike and Patricia Collins

Early astronauts still married:
Frank and Sue Borman (Gemini 7, Apollo 8). Though Susan was admitted for depression and alcholism.

Jim and Marilyn Lovell (Gemini 7 & 12, Apollo 8 & 13)

Charlie and Dottie Duke (Capcom on Apollo 11, flew on Apollo 16)

There were a few others, but I'm not going through the whole list. Pretty sure Alan Shepard and Stu Roose from Apollo 14 remained in their original marriages until death. Though Shepard was known from sleeping around.

Eugence Cernan's book, Last Man on the Moon, does a good job of showing what his wife Barbara was going through while he was off training and flying. The incident that stuck most in my mind was of her going upstairs to take a shower and then screaming into her fists while guests partied downstairs.

It was rough, having your spouse away and always coming second, while knowing that if he died there was very little money to help out. Add in that they were expected to be socialites while living on a military salary and it's surprising that most of them just didn't completely conk at from the stress.

Why should martial status have an impact on flight status?

Divorce was still frowned upon and astronauts worried if they didn't have the proper image, they wouldn't be selected. They were right, but not in that way. One guy was selected, then he was discovered to have a temper and be hitting his wife. He was kicked out pretty quickly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:01 PM on October 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Correction . . .
Otherwise . . .
Mike Collins . . .
Early astronauts still married: . . .
There were a few others . . .


Dayim, Brandon, you're on this.

Why should martial status have an impact on flight status?

Didst though not RTFA? It says.

Eugence Cernan's book, Last Man on the Moon . . .  

Nonsense; Col. Steve Austin, commander of Apollo 17 19 20, was the last man on the moon.
 
posted by Herodios at 2:10 PM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have never understood the whole "groupie" thing.

I don't know. . . . lots of people like sex and lots of people like celebrities and lots of people like collecting things . . .


AFAIK, Cynthia Plaster Caster never did astronauts, but they might've been an interesting addition to her collection.

Imagine the tableau: Neil, Buzz, and Mike's 'service modules' right alongside Jimi, Noel, and Mitch's.
 
posted by Herodios at 2:20 PM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


The youngest human being to have been to the moon is 77 years old. Statistically speaking, we have less than a decade until no living person will have been there.

Assuming that China, India or someone else in search of international prestige (Iran? Brazil?) doesn't put boots on the moon just because they can.
posted by acb at 2:48 PM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


China probably will by 2030. Doubtful India or Brazil will be launching astronauts by then,
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:54 PM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Herodios, Brandon Blatcher's comprehensive expertise of the space program is one of those constant awesome surprises around here.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:03 PM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a 51-year-old man and I have never understood the whole "groupie" thing. It just squicks me out.

Obviously, you've never had a groupie.
There are groupies for damned near everything. Astronauts. Firefighters. Even for 30-something adjunct graphic design instructors at midwestern universities...
posted by Thorzdad at 3:57 PM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nah, I don't have comprehensive expertise, just read a lot a lot of books about manned spaceflight, particularly Apollo.

Eriko, dhartung and mike mongo are the mefite space experts that I know of. Tthey seem to have worked for or with NASA and have a solid understanding of the science and math behind launching rockets and various NASA procedures.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:04 PM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Steve Austin?

Pish Posh; Dr. Heywood Floyd was on the moon as recently as 2001
posted by Megafly at 4:32 PM on October 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Huh, I never knew that. I guess I've just come across your discussion of it a particular amount.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:01 PM on October 4, 2013


In the meantime, I recommend the miniseries From the Earth to the Moon. It covers the entire Apollo program, but much of the astronauts' lives are part of it, with an entire episode just about their wives.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:08 PM on October 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


NASA is hiding the existence of groupies roaming the moon right now.
- Richard C. Hoagland
posted by davebush at 5:31 PM on October 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Assuming that China, India or someone else in search of international prestige (Iran? Brazil?) doesn't put boots on the moon just because they can.

China has admitted that they're more than a decade out. If any of the Apollo veterans make it to 95, they might see it. Hope at least one of them does.
posted by Etrigan at 5:40 PM on October 4, 2013


This is not a surprise to anybody who's watched I Dream of Jeannie and filled in the "can't show on TV" blanks.
posted by zengargoyle at 6:47 PM on October 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, are paragraphs now one sentence long?

One would think so based on the typesetting of the article.

I know I find it incredibly annoying.

So much so, that I have now adopted the style.

Carry on.
posted by HyperBlue at 7:16 PM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's Alice Kramden!
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:57 PM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Google books link to the "slept with" quote.
posted by beerbajay at 12:38 AM on October 5, 2013


There are groupies for damned near everything. Astronauts. Firefighters. Even for 30-something adjunct graphic design instructors at midwestern universities...
posted by Thorzdad at 11:57 PM on October 4



So, hey ladies, I drive trains!

Hello?

*crickets*
posted by Decani at 2:41 AM on October 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Decani, Freud would be proud.
posted by jaduncan at 6:46 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, hey ladies, I drive trains!

That almost looks like laddies.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:54 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Relevant TV Tropes: Keep the Home Fires Burning
posted by nicebookrack at 12:21 PM on October 5, 2013


*eyes Decani*
posted by brundlefly at 1:11 PM on October 5, 2013


Tthey seem to have worked for or with NASA

Or have just read everything in reach about the space program since yay high. Really, that's all; I even failed calculus. If you want engineering, call eriko.

I will, however, bow to your enthusiasm, oh many-married MeFite.

Why should martial status have an impact on flight status?

The early astronauts were poster boys, literally, for the blue-eyed for-all-mankind foofaraw. They were All-American organization men, and not just in the PR sense, either, so that meant their wives were there to support them professionally. Holding the right parties with the right people meant you had more chances to be in front of the eyes evaluating you.

But more generally it was considered a moral failing, a social embarassment, and would effectively mean getting shut out from certain circles. You might have to quit your church, for example. You could even be denied housing.

The divorce rate in 1965 was 2.5 per 1000 population. It began shooting up right then, hitting 3.5 by 1970, and eventually peaking at 5.3 in 1981. It's now back down to 3.5, but a big factor there is that people are not marrying as young as people did in the 1950s and 1960s (or even as much).
posted by dhartung at 4:08 AM on October 6, 2013


I get that; I just think that attitude was wrong and stepping away from it is one of the ways things have gotten better. It struck me that Brandon Blatcher was disapproving of divorced astronauts being able to keep flying. Re-reading Brandon Blatcher's comment I see he was advocating for a divorce to effect an astronauts flight status rather a statement of the reality.
posted by Mitheral at 10:36 AM on October 6, 2013


Re-reading Brandon Blatcher's comment I see he was advocating for a divorce to effect an astronauts flight status rather a statement of the reality.

Nothing could be further from the truth and I have no idea how you came to that conclusion.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:28 PM on October 6, 2013


Damn it WASN'T advocating ... wasn't. Sorry BB.
posted by Mitheral at 6:50 PM on October 6, 2013


Don't understand groupies?

Well, first you set up society for thousands of years so that a woman's worth/fortune/future depends pretty much entirely on either who her dad is or who she convinces to have sex with or marry her. Also deprive them of or hamper severely any ways they might have to earn their own money, have a public voice, own property, or obtain status. Their primary path to get any of those things is by being attached to a man who has them or who might get them.

You'll tend to get groupies.
posted by jfwlucy at 9:06 AM on October 7, 2013


Yes, now that women are more independent, at least in Western society, groupies have totally gone away.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:57 AM on October 7, 2013


More /= totally -- and in case you haven't noticed, even though there isn't slavery any more, racism still exists.
posted by jfwlucy at 10:28 AM on October 7, 2013


Oh, and absent that explanation, there isn't really ANY case to be made as to why groupies exist unless you believe that women are biologically programmed toward groupie behavior, in which case nothxbi.
posted by jfwlucy at 10:30 AM on October 7, 2013


1. If women were accepted as completely equal throughout society, as they should be, groupies would still exist.

2. Slavery still exists.

3. Groupies exist because people, not just women, are drawn to power and charisma.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:39 AM on October 7, 2013


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