Philip Chapman

When I spoke at the 1983 L5 space development conference in Houston about the launch loop, I met Philip Chapman, an "almost astronaut". Philip was born in Australia, and spent most of his life working to become an astronaut, getting advanced degrees, training in jet aircraft, and becoming a naturalized US citizen. He was selected as a scientist-astronaut in the 1967 group, and would have been on one of the late Apollo flights to the moon, but left the astronaut corps after those flights were cancelled.

We watched a space shuttle launch together in the TV, and during breaks he told me about an astronaut training expedition to Antarctica. One of the many hazings he received involved being sent out onto the ice with a large rectal thermometer, and instructed to measure the temperature of one of the penguins. He scurried across the ice after a big flock of penguins; as he neared, they scooted off ahead of him. He ran faster, they ran faster. He moved slower, so did they, effortlessly maintaining a gap of about 5 meters. Finally, he slipped and fell, landing on his back with the thermometer pointed skyward. He was surrounded by the flock, who formed a circle around him, looking down at him just out of arms reach.

So you aren't the first southern-hemisphere english-extraction astronaut to be associated with penguins...

PhilipChapman (last edited 2011-01-23 03:13:27 by KeithLofstrom)