Bassett, Charles Arthur II 'Charlie'
(1931-1966) American test pilot astronaut, 1963-1966. Died in crash of T-38 trainer into the McDonnell Aircraft plant.
Educated Texas Tech; Edwards.
Official NASA Biography
NAME: Charles A. Bassett, II (Captain, USAF)
NASA Astronaut (Deceased)
PERSONAL DATA: Born in Dayton, Ohio, on December 30, 1931. Died February 28, 1966, in St. Louis, Missouri, in the crash of a T-38 jet. He is survived by his wife, Jean, and two children.
EDUCATION: He attended Ohio State University from 1950 to 1952, and Texas Technological College from 1958 to 1960. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering with honors from Texas Tech; He had done graduate work at University of Southern California.
ORGANIZATIONS: Member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Phi Kappa Tau, Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi and the Daedalians
EXPERIENCE: Bassett was an Air Force Captain. He graduated from the Aerospace Research Pilot School and the Air Force Experimental Pilot School.
He served as an experimental test pilot and engineering test pilot in the Fighter Projects Office at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
He logged over 3,600 hours-flying time, including over 2,900 hours in a jet aircraft.
NASA EXPERIENCE: Bassett was one of the third group of astronauts named by NASA in October 1963. In addition to participating in the overall astronaut-training program, he had specific responsibilities pertaining to training and simulators. On November 8, 1965, he was selected as pilot of the upcoming Gemini 9 mission. He died on February 28, 1966, in the crash of a T-38 jet.
Birth Place: Dayton, Ohio.
More... - Chronology...
Astronaut Category of persons, applied to those trained for spaceflight outside of Russia and China. More...
NASA Group 3 - 1963 Requirement: crew members for planned Apollo missions (then planned as 4 Saturn I missions in 1965, 2-4 Saturn IB missions in 1966, 6 Saturn V missions from 1967). Nickname: The Fourteen. More...
Gemini 9A Crew: Bassett, See. Planned mission, cancelled when prime crew killed in T-38 trainer crash. All subsequent crew assignments were reshuffled. This ended up determining who would be the first man on the moon.… Backup crew: Cernan, Stafford. More...
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
USAF American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. United States Air Force, USA. More...
NASA Astronaut Biographies, Johnson Space Center, NASA, 1995-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
1963 June 5 -
1963 October 17 -
- NASA Astronaut Training Group 3 selected. - .
Nation: USA. Related Persons: Aldrin; Anders; Bassett; Bean; Cernan; Chaffee; Collins; Cunningham; Eisele; Freeman; Gordon; Schweickart; Scott; Williams, Clifton. The group was selected to provide crew members for planned Apollo missions (then planned as 4 Saturn I missions in 1965, 2-4 Saturn IB missions in 1966, 6 Saturn V missions from 1967).. Qualifications: Qualified jet pilot with minimum 1,000 flight-hours, bachleor's degree in engineering or physical or biological sciences, under 35 years old, under 183 cm height, excellent health. US citizen.. There were 271 applications, 200 from civilians (including two women) and 71 from military pilots (including two African-Americans). President Kennedy pushed for NASA to appoint a black astronaut, but neither of the applicants met the test pilot requirements. Bobby Kennedy arranged for one of these, USAF Captain Edward Dwight, to be enrolled in the USAF Test Pilot school. He graduated, and then had the necessary qualifications. He was 28 years old, an engineering school graduate, and a B-57 bomber command pilot with 2,000 hours flying time. However NASA did not find him as well qualified as other candidates, and he was not among the 32 chosen for final physical and mental tests.
From these 32, the final 14 were selected. Of them, four would die (two in a T-38 crash, one in a car crash, and one in the Apollo 204 ground fire) before flying in space. All of the ten remaining would fly in the Apollo program.
1963 October 18 -
- Selection of 14 astronauts for Projects Gemini and Apollo - .
Nation: USA. Related Persons: Aldrin; Anders; Bassett; Bean; Cernan; Chaffee; Collins; Cunningham; Eisele; Freeman; Gordon; Schweickart; Scott; Williams, Clifton. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Gemini. NASA announced the selection of 14 astronauts for Projects Gemini and Apollo, bringing to 30 the total number of American spacemen. They were Maj. Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., Capt. William A. Anders, Capt. Charles A. Bassett II, Capt. Michael Collins, Capt. Donn F. Eisele, Capt. Theodore C. Freeman, and Capt. David R. Scott of the Air Force; Lt. Cdr. Richard F. Gordon, Jr., Lt. Alan L. Bean, Lt. Eugene A. Cernan, and Lt. Roger B. Chaffee of the Navy; Capt. Clifton C. Williams, Jr., of the Marine Corps; R. Walter Cunningham, research scientist for the Rand Corporation; and Russell L. Schweickart, research scientist for MIT.
1964 February 3 -
1965 February 16 -
- Specialty areas for 13 astronauts not assigned to Gemini - .
Nation: USA. Related Persons: Aldrin; Anders; Bassett; Bean; Cernan; Chaffee; Collins; Cunningham; Eisele; Freeman; Gordon; Schweickart; Scott; Williams, Clifton. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Apollo LM; CSM ECS; LM Communications; LM ECS; LM Guidance. MSC announced a realignment of specialty areas for the 13 astronauts not assigned to forthcoming Gemini missions (GT 3 through 5) or to strictly administrative positions:
- Operations and Training
- Edwin E. Aldrin, branch chief - mission planning
Charles A. Bassett - operations handbooks, training, and simulators
Alan L. Bean - recovery systems
Michael Collins - pressure suits and extravehicular activity
David R. Scott - mission planning and guidance and navigation
Clifton C. Williams - range operations, deep space instrumentation, and crew safety.
- Project Apollo
- Richard F. Gordon, branch chief - overall astronaut activities in Apollo area and liaison for CSM development
Donn F. Eisele - CSM and LEM
William A. Anders - environmental control system and radiation and thermal systems
Eugene A. Cernan - boosters, spacecraft propulsion, and the Agena stage
Roger B. Chaffee - communications, flight controls, and docking
R. Walter Cunningham - electrical and sequential systems and non-flight experiments
Russell L. Schweickart - in-flight experiments and future programs.
1966 February 28 -
- Gemini IX Astronauts Elliot M. See, Jr., and Charles A. Bassett II killed when their T-38 jet crashed. - .
Nation: USA. Related Persons: See; Bassett. Flight: Gemini 9; Gemini 9A. Gemini IX Astronauts Elliot M. See, Jr., and Charles A. Bassett II were killed when their T-38 jet training plane crashed in rain and fog short of the St. Louis Municipal Airport. The jet, which had been cleared for an instrument landing, was left of center in its approach to the runway when it turned toward the McDonnell complex, 1000 feet from the landing strip. It hit the roof of the building where spacecraft nos. 9 and 10 were being housed, bounced into an adjacent courtyard, and exploded. Several McDonnell employees were slightly injured. Minutes later the Gemini IX backup crew, Thomas P. Stafford and Eugene A. Cernan, landed safely. The four astronauts were en route to McDonnell for two weeks' training in the simulator. NASA Headquarters announced that Stafford and Cernan would fly the Gemini IX mission on schedule and appointed Alan B. Shepard, Jr., to head a seven-man investigating team.
1966 June -
- Gemini 9A (cancelled) - .
Crew: Bassett; See. Backup Crew: Cernan; Stafford. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Bassett; See; Cernan; Stafford. Program: Gemini. Flight: Gemini 9A. Spacecraft: G4C AMU; Gemini. Elliot See and Charlie Bassett were the prime crew for Gemini 9. On February 28, 1966, they were flying in a NASA T-38 trainer to visit the McDonnell plant in St Louis, where their spacecraft was in assembly. See misjudged his landing approach, and in pulling up from the runway, hit Building 101 where the spacecraft was being assembled. Both astronauts were killed, and 14 persons on the ground were injured. As a result, the Gemini 9 backup crew became the prime crew, and all subsequent crew assignments were reshuffled. This ended up determining who would be the first man on the moon.
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