Apollo Moon Missions: The Unsung Heroes

By Billy Watkins | Go to book overview

11 JOAN ROOSA
Wife of Apollo 14 Astronaut Stuart Roosa

Going to the moon brought more than fame to the twenty-four astronauts who flew there.

“They had groupies too, just like rock stars and movie stars,” says Joan Roosa, whose husband Stuart was command module pilot on Apollo 14. “They were world heroes, and there were women—especially down at the Cape—who chased them. I was at a party one night in Houston “when” 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.' Well, my husband had already been there. So I turned and said, 'Pardon me, but I don't think so.' Stuart was monogamous, and I had more than one astronaut tell me how much they admired him for his faithfulness to me.

“But that's the way it was back then. The astronauts were a big deal, and women made them a target.”

For all its glory, the Apollo program put a tremendous strain on the families involved. Only two of the twenty-four moon voyagers were bachelors at the time—Jack Swigert and Jack Schmitt. Twelve of the other twenty-two went through divorces.

But it wasn't always the fault of groupies or carousing pilots.

“Everybody wants to blame the astronauts,” Joan Roosa says. “But I think more divorces were started by the wives than the astronauts. That may shock some people, but it's the truth. I know for a fact Neil Armstrong never wanted a divorce from Jan. He was served with divorce papers three times, and he kept throwing them away. “Neil and Jan Armstrong divorced in 1990, and he remarried in 1994.”

-131-

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