One of the original seven astronauts selected for NASA’s Mercury program, Donald K. “Deke” Slayton was grounded due to a medical condition before he could fly a mission and became the “chief astronaut” responsible for assigning crews for the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. Though not necessarily the first person most people think of when they talk about astronauts, he played an important role in NASA’s early history, including choosing the Apollo 11 crew for the first lunar landing.


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