Deke Slayton was the chief of the Astronaut office and Director of Flight Crew Operations. After the Soviets made it on the Moon first, Deke told the NASA crew to get drunk and unleash their anger over the weekend before heading back to work.
Deke is portrayed by Chris Bauer.
At the meeting, Deke Slayton mentions Apollo 11 is scheduled to fly in 2.5 weeks, and Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins would continue to train as had been planned. He also said training for Apollo's 12 - 20 would also continue, as there had been no instructions from the top. However, Deke told them that the training would not be continued that day, since it was time to be pissed about the events, suggesting they take the weekend off to get drunk and blow off steam.
At a press meeting, Deke is asked why they didn't land on the moon a month before when they had sent Apollo 10. Deke simply responded it was not on the mission plan, and Wernher von Braun supported him by saying the fuel levels on Apollo 10 were insufficient for a landing, and the spacecraft weighed too much for a landing, so it was never considered.
At Deke's office, the former is reading Ed what he had said about NASA not having guts anymore. Deke tells him von Braun wants him reassigned to the Apollo Applications Project effective immediately, telling him he was to blame for being taken off Apollo 15, even mentioning that von Braun wanted him off the project completely. Deke tells him Apollo 15 may not even happen since everything everything would probably be cancelled after Apollo 11.
Margo and von Braun are talking in the latter's office and go see if they can effectively land on the moon. At Outpost, everybody cheers for Neil and the rest of the crew. The three started reaching the moon's surface, but could not find a good place to land, also with little fuel left. Asking Gene if they should abort, the director said it was up to Neil now. As they neared the surface, the crew became worried that they would hit something. As one of them warned, telemetric connection, as well as all other means of contact were lost.
NASA tried contacting them, but they were not reaching the crew. As time went by, NASA was still unable to reach Apollo 11. Von Braun concluded it was likely they had crashed. Since the Eagle had such thin "skin", Gene mentioned you could punch a hole in it with a screwdriver. They could have survived, as they had their suits on, but Deke mentioned there was no contingency plan, and von Braun mentioned it was impossible to perform a rescue on the lunar surface.
Mike, who was in orbit used a telescope and concluded Eagle was about six to eight miles southwest to the targeted landing site in a very rocky area, with no movement. Over four hours had passed, and Karen went with Marge, who told them to go to the Aldrin's and Armstrong's houses.
Deke went to von Braun and told them there was a problem since Michael Collins was refusing to return alone. All of a sudden, they received a transmission from Neil, who let them know that they had landed successfully. Everybody cheered, and Gene mentioned they would now focus on bringing them home again.
Ed goes to work, meeting up with Deke whom he asks when he can fly again. However Deke tells him the decision is not only his since he had pissed off a lot of people. Realizing what he was saying, Ed realizes he will never go back to space, and Deke confirms that would be the case as long as von Braun was director. He later goes to a meeting with von Braun and Thomas O. Paine.
Von Braun talks to Thomas O. Paine who is worried about blueprints. However, von Braun does not believe they are a threat, but the Thomas wants von Braun to make blueprints for a military outpost on the moon and wants him to unveil the plan in his testimony for the committee beginning with Apollo 12 due to instructions from the president. However, von Braun refuses, saying that NASA is a scientific program, not military. Asking Deke if he would be willing to accept more men, he agrees, but mentions Apollo 12's flight is soon. Thomas mentions they may need to move it up a bit, but von Braun refused since they were being encroached and could not allow space to become another battlefield, but Thomas argued it already was.
Deke payed Ed a visit at his home, where he asked the latter how he was. He also mentioned Nixon was all hands on deck for the military base. He also gave Ed a plaque which recorded the landing of the moon. Deke mentioned presidents come and go, but NASA stays, and told him what he had said in DC took a lot of guts. He offered him his job back on Apollo 15, which made Ed excited and he accepted.
Karen interrupted the men, telling them the Soviets were now on the moon again, revealing that a woman, Anastasia Belikova had now landed on the moon, which now qualified as a historic moment for women across the world, since she was the first woman on the moon.
Gene Kranz and Deke tell a general from the Pentagon that they were converting the third stage of the Saturn V into an orbiting workshop, also mentioning that von Braun called it Skylab. The construction was already underway in Huntsville, but it was early enough to change the trajectory of the process. The general asks Gene how many people could fit inside it, since it did not look big, and Deke replies that three astronauts could do it at a time for the first stages until there could be further expansions. However, Apollo missions were now being reassigned to survey potential sites for the military base.
Thomas walks into the room, and speaks to Deke and Gene alone, telling them that the president now wanted to land a woman on the moon. Gene finds this to be an issue, however, since NASA did not have female astronauts. Deke also adds that he can not just choose a random woman, they would have to be trained to be astronauts, and not all of them would pass his tests. However, Thomas does not want Deke to train them properly, which he opposes.
Deke was presented with 13 women who used to be called "Mercury 13", of which only two were left who were still flying: Molly Cobb, who set aviation records for long-distance flight, won several racing awards qualified in single and multi-engine aircrafts and was first in her class in Mercury 13, but she was not what the president was looking for since she was not up to beauty standards. Patty Doyle was also a candidate, having passed the Mercury test with flying colors, and finished second behind Cobb. Deke agreed with both choices, and was presented with more candidates, of which Danielle Poole, who already worked at NASA was also part of.
Thomas walked in, mentioning the president had also loved the idea of Gordo flying with Tracy. Deke does not approve, but he was told Tracy was the only one who really looked like she could represent the USA.
When Deke told Gordo and Tracy the news, Gordo said they would need to discuss it in private, but Tracy did not wait and accepted, and shook Deke's hand. Gordo got excited for Tracy, but she only asked if he really was okay with it, which Gordo confirmed, revealing that Deke had also given him a spot on Apollo 15.
On January 6, 1970, Deke walked in and introduced himself to the candidates, telling them this would be a vigorous training, during which he expected a lot less than the 20 candidates to stay. He explained they would be graded as they went along, which included pilot performance, academics, character, and motivation. He would be posting results every so often; if their names were not on the list, they were cut from the program.
Some time later, at a meeting in NASA, the possibility of ice being on the moon was discussed. However, this could not be confirmed. Ed mentioned they could find more about it on Apollo 15. Gene mentioned water on the moon could change everything, with Ray emphasizing that they could drink it, grow plants, and make rocket fuel. At the end of the meeting, Thomas asked Deke how "Nixon's women" were doing, specifically Tracy. Deke told him that the women were doing desert survival training, which surprised Thomas. He told Deke there was no way they could haul a 40-pound pack 20 miles in the desert sun, but Deke argued that if they could not handle the desert, they could not handle the moon.
At desert survival training, Deke told them it was not a teamwork-building assignment, and they would each be timed and graded on their individual performances. They each had a walkie-talkie, but if they used it, they would immediately fail the must-pass test.
After a while, Deke called out through his walkie-talkie, and told all remaining candidates to radio their approximate location. Since he got no response, he radioed again, but was responded by Tracy, who told him he did not need to shout. Paramedics received Ellen, and Tracy was given water while Deke reminded her it was not a team exercise: Ellen should have radioed and Tracy should not have stopped to help her, but Tracy told him that she was not going to leave her behind, and he would not have done it either.
Deke called Tracy to his office, where he told her he had a lot of respect for what she had done at the desert training. She mentioned it was nothing, but Deke told her he had gone through the same training on Mercury. He told her that what is coming is dangerous stuff, and that he did not think she had the skill set, and told her she should be proud of what she has done. However, he also said he would not cut her, but recommended she withdraw from the program, but she told him she would not drop out.
John Glenn goes to NASA, where he meets with Deke Slayton. Glenn tells Deke that there is a reason being a test pilot was required in order to be an astronaut, and told him that Patty had been out of her depth. Deke reminded him that a woman had already landed on the moon and that the women in his program had worked hard for what they had achieved. Glenn tells him that he understands his compassion after what he went through on Mercury, and remembers when he was grounded for atrial fibrillation. However, they had to consider the future of NASA, and knew that Deke had been forced into the idea of women astronauts. Deke denied this, and told him he decides who goes up or not. Glenn recognizes this, and tells him that if he were to publicly state that the women were not up to standards, nobody would question it.
Gene Kranz gives a conference to Ed, Gordo, Margo, Thomas, Deke, and others, saying that a man had been buried on the moon, which the Russians were keeping quiet. It seems they were trying to land near water. Looking at some cylinders, Gene says they might be pressurized modules, which makes Ed realize the Russians were ahead of them once again. However, Deke mentions they do not even have a site, which angers Thomas, telling him to "just pick one." Margo tells him that the base have been predicated on proximity to water ice, and they had yet to identify where they could find water ice. She was interrupted by Thomas, who did not know who she was, soon realizing she was "Wernher's girl." Gene corrected him, telling Thomas Margo was a flight dynamics officer and was making a good point. Thomas was angered by how they were always losing to the Russians, and reminded them the election was coming up, which would probably be against Ted Kennedy.
At his office, Deke is joined by Thomas, who tells him his birthday present was the female astronaut training program being canceled. Deke, however, was not happy about this since he had been working hard to get them ready. Thomas tells him that he can now put his focus back on the lunar base, where it belonged.
On October 27, 1970, Thomas is confused as to who called a press conference. At the conference, Deke announces that Danielle, Ellen, Molly, and Tracy were the first women to complete all of NASA's required astronaut training. He introduces each of them, and shakes their hand, while the press claps in celebration. Deke goes to Thomas, who tells him he had not authorized what he had done. Deke was aware of this, and reminded him that he was the one who decided who goes up, and when. Thomas congratulated him on making Nixon's shitlist.
Ed tries teaching Shane to ride a bike, but he keeps falling. Shane apologizes, but Ed tells him he does not want to hear it, and simply wants him to ride the bike while following his instructions. However, Deke arrives at his house, and they discuss a change in his crew. Deke tells him that Gordo is out, since the crew member replacing Gordo would be one of the female astronauts. Karen gets involved and tells him he was making a mistake all for a publicity stunt, but Deke argued they had all earned their place in the program. He told Ed he can get drunk with Gordo, and watch it on TV or go on Apollo 15. He told Ed to have dinner with his new crewmate, Molly, along with Sedge so they would get to know each other.
On the day of the takeoff, at mission control, Deke was called by the president, who congratulated him on what he was seeing on the news. As Deke thanked him, Nixon told him that if Molly screwed up, he was fired.
Apollo 15 reaches the moon after 4 days, 3 hours, and 46 minutes, while Deke and Margo Madison work at mission control. Molly Cobb is told she is live on all networks. Shane asks Karen why everything is about her, and Karen tells him that she is the first woman astronaut, but Shane reminds him that Ed is her boss. When asked what she thought about being near the moon, Molly mentions it is humbling and Deke reads a letter from a fan to her.
Thomas called Deke and Gene and told them the CIA was worried that the Soviets would place military assets on the moon, and told them that if they could get Apollo 15 to Shackleton, they should do it. Deke told Thomas that the crew would decide and left.
On day 3 of being on the moon, which was the last day, Thomas was confident Molly and Ed would find ice, but was surprised to hear the best bet was to send Apollo 16 with climbing gear. However, Thomas has having none of it since the Russians would beat them again. Gene stated they should waste time, and told mission control to get them inside, but Deke mentioned it was three times deeper than The Grand Canyon.
Deke old Ed to bring Molly up after they found ice, which he did, and they managed to safely return to the LEM. When they were inside, the public was told, and Karen hugged Wayne, who was relieved they were fine.
On August 24, 1974, Deke was with mission control, contacting Jamestown Base, where Edward Baldwin, Gordo Stevens, and Danielle Poole were currently at. Administrator Weisner gave them a speech where he announced on behalf of president Kennedy, a new flight director, Irene Hedricks.
Deke had the prime crew of Apollo 24, which he read to Weisner in order of seniority: Ellen as mission commander, Harrison Liu, and Deke Slayton, which he seemed surprised to read. Weisner asked what he was doing, but Deke handed him his medical clearance for flight status. Since he no longer deemed his heart condition a problem, he believed he was ready, but Weisner was not sure, since the president would not like it. Deke stood up and declared that as cheif of the astronaut office, he was assigning himself to Apollo 24, which Weisner had to agree with.
At mission control, Irene asks FIDO if they have updates on launch winds yet, which Margo confirms, telling her that they were within launch parameters. Irene asks her to keep an eye on the data, but they soon saw on their screen the abrupt explosion of the Apollo 23. All of mission control froze at the sight of the explosion, and Irene told someone to lock the doors.
At a meeting, the FBI told Irene, Deke, and Weisner that they thought the KGB was involved in the sabotaging of the Apollo 23, but Irene did not understand why they wanted to interview everyone. Deke told the director that they knew the cause, but the FBI told him that there had been breaches of security protocol at NASA before.
At NASA, astronauts including Danielle are watching Gordo being celebrated for having landed them back on Earth, as well as congratulating Ellen, who was now married to Larry on becoming the new commander for Apollo 24. Deke mentions that he was, in fact, part of Mercury and mentioned that he was able to fly, but assigned Ellen as leader because he knew she was very capable. The interviewer, however, mentions that Danielle's accident at Jamestown had raised the question of having women living on the moon, but Ellen defended her fellow woman. Harry defends the interviewer's obvious attacking of Ellen, saying he was not worried about serving under her.
Ellen, Harry, and Deke are later told at NASA that when they docked with the LSAM, they would need to perform a system test. Ellen asks what their cargo would be, but the woman told them that they still did not know. Deke asked what the mystery was all about, since it would probably just be 20,000 pounds of food and gas.
Later, Margo was at NASA with Deke and Weisner. Deke told Margo that the neurologist was taking a second look at Shane and that they needed to tell Ed what was happening. Weisner said no, however, since Ed was all alone up there. Deke mentions that knowing Ed, he would want to know, but Margo argued that there had been many studies on the effects of bad news in high-pressure situations. Deke told Margo that this was not an equation, it was Ed's son and the astronaut had a right to know. Margo asked if anybody had talked to Karen, since she had heard a lot of opinions except for hers and it should be her call.
When Deke asked Karen, she said that it was not an option since it was possible that Shane could live. Deke asked her once again if she was sure, but Karen refused to do so until something else happened. Deke said goodbye and told her that he would bring Ed home. Tracy hugged Karen in order to comfort her while Deke said goodbye to his wife as well, who was excited for him to go to the moon.
Apollo 24 launched in order to bring back Ed, who had been stranded on the moon for 159 days. Deke called Houston, telling them they were ready for trans-lunar injection. Gordo confirmed they had received the message and asked Deke if he liked the view. And so Deke, Ellen and Harry moved forward. However, when they tried to ignite, it failed.
Apollo 24 and 25 started working together to fix 24. They installed the FCC they needed and then started a test, which Margo directed. Ellen mentions that the tank pressure had gone up. Margo realized what was happening and told them to get the remaining astronauts to get away from the booster since it was still armed. It was too late the booster ignited, making Deke slam into a steering nozzle, and Harry slid down the booster into the exhaust plume of the engine dissolving in the heat of the exhaust. Molly disconnected the tether holding 25 to 24 and then lost her grip and let go. Molly mentioned that she had almost no oxygen left and they tried to find her since they could not see her. Tracy managed to see her, but Apollo 24 was still uncommunicative.
Mission control got the trajectory on 24, but did not know if they were dead or alive. Apollo 24 was not heading for the moon at all and could not communicate.
Ellen comes to after Deke calls her. He tells her that she needs to abort the burn and also tells her he does not have much left in his OPS and he has a puncture in his suit. However, her abort handle is non-responsive, and Houston can not be reached. She pulls on a chord only to find out Harry had been lost in space. She pulls on Deke's chord and is able to bring him into the ship. They close the hatch and are able to remove their helmets, but Deke had been stabbed by the smashed steering thruster, so Ellen tells him to apply pressure on the wound. She tries reaching Houston once again, but they remain uncommunicative.
Ellen put stitches on Deke's wound, who complained that their communication problems were most likely due to their comm systems having been updated. Ellen told him to calm down and also reminded him that they were risking losing lunar orbit, also asking if he was up for another burn, which he nodded to. Deke told her that Harry had been dragged into the plume, which swallowed him whole. The CSM separated and they kept moving.
It seemed Ellen and Deke were now heading towards the moon and were moving very fast. Ellen switched to manual, but depleted the SPS and they did not make it by thirty feet. However, in mission control Margo stumbled upon everybody celebrating since they now knew they were alive. Aleida went to NASA and saw Margo, who was still working.
Deke tells Ellen that their death would not be the worst way to go. He also tells her that he kind of wants to see how far they get, but lets out a cry of pain. Ellen looks at his wound and notices internal bleeding; Deke tells her that he had always thought he had seen a bit of John Glenn in her since whenever she wanted to walk into a room, people saw her and listened to her. He tells her that his "in case of death letter" was bad since he was distracted and only had two minutes to write it. He tells Ellen that Marge deserved better and still could not believe Marge had said yes to him. He asks Ellen for her story ad she tells him that it was nice how Larry had proposed. He tells him that Larry had taken her to Memorial Park, but did not finish the story and said that she did not know what she was doing since she was heading towards nowhere and tells Deke that she had to hide parts of who she was and told him that she did not love Larry, but Pam. Deke realized Pam was the bartender and laughed until he realized she was serious and was disgusted.
Deke asked Ellen if she was aware of the security risks, since she was opening herself up to blackmail, manipulation. Ellen told him that that was not fair, but Deke told her that she was putting everybody at risk. Ellen said she believed that he would understand because he had pushed for the women when nobody else had, but Deke told her that that was because they were good pilots and being women was beside the point. Ellen told Deke that the world was changing and that he helped do it. Deke started letting out a cry of pain, and Ellen told him to breathe.
Ellen fed Deke, who was now laying down. They suddenly heard Ed radio to them and Ellen responded, saying they were there to rescue him. He greeted Ellen and asked how Deke was doing, but Ellen told him that space had made Deke more soft and cuddly than usual. Ed said he was sorry to hear that and told them how the plan would go.
Deke regains his ability to talk and weakly told Ellen that she has great things ahead and that if they made it through, to not tell anybody else. He tells her to keep it to herself since there were too many people like him and it was all they would see. Ed radios 24 and tells them that Houston was working on a fix, but Deke says that there would be no time for him to dock. Ellen suggests Ed throwing a tank. Weisner argues against it, but Margo tells him to shut up or fuck off. Ed removes the tank while Ellen exits 24; he throws the tank, but it went a little too high. Ellen removed her chord and jumped, successfully attaching it to the tank and barely able to hold on to it. Everybody at Houston celebrates, completely impressed by the stunt.
Ellen goes back to 24, asking Deke if he had seen her, but sees he is slumped and not moving. At Houston, everybody finds out Deke has passed and look at Marge. Weisner personally walks up to her and takes his glasses off, breaking the news to her. Karen hugs Marge, who starts crying.
When Ellen makes it to the moon, they stand in front of Shane's grave and drop Deke's pin on the ground, also burying him next to Shane's grave.