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Rear Admiral Alan B. Shepard, Jr(USN ret)
Rear Admiral Shepard was one of the Mercury astronauts named by NASA in April 1959, and he holds the distinction of being the first American to journey into space. On May 5, 1961, in the Freedom 7 spacecraft, he was launched by a Redstone vehicle on a ballistic trajectory suborbital flight--a flight which carried him to an altitude of 116 statute miles and to a landing point 302 statute miles down the Atlantic Missile Range.
In 1963, he was designated Chief of the Astronaut Office with responsibility for monitoring the coordination, scheduling, and control of all activities involving NASA astronauts. This included monitoring the development and implementation of effective training programs to assure the flight readiness of available pilot/non-pilot personnel for assignment to crew positions on manned space flights; furnishing pilot evaluations applicable to the design, construction, and operations of spacecraft systems and related equipment; and providing qualitative scientific and engineering observations to facilitate overall mission planning, formulation of feasible operational procedures, and selection and conduct of specific experiments for each flight. He was restored to full flight status in May 1969, following corrective surgery for an inner ear disorder.
Shepard made his second space flight as spacecraft commander on Apollo 14, January 31 - February 9, 1971. He was accompanied on man's third lunar landing mission by Stuart A. Roosa, command module pilot, and Edgar D. Mitchell, lunar module pilot. Maneuvering their lunar module, "Antares," to a landing in the hilly upland Fra Mauro region of the moon, Shepard and Mitchell subsequently deployed and activated various scientific equipment and experiments and collected almost 100 pounds of lunar samples for return to earth. Other Apollo 14 achievements included: first use of Mobile Equipment Transporter (MET); largest payload placed in lunar orbit; longest distance traversed on the lunar surface; largest payload returned from the lunar surface; longest lunar surface stay time (33 hours); longest lunar surface EVA (9 hours and 17 minutes); first use of shortened lunar orbit rendezvous techniques; first use of colored TV with new vidicon tube on lunar surface; and first extensive orbital science period conducted during CSM solo operations. Rear Admiral Shepard has logged a total of 216 hours and 57 minutes in space, of which 9 hours and 17 minutes were spent in lunar surface EVA. He resumed his duties as Chief of the Astronaut Office in June 1971 and served in this capacity until he retired from NASA and the Navy on August 1, 1974. Shepard was in private business in Houston, Texas. He served as the President of the Mercury Seven Foundation, a non-profit organization which provides college science scholarships for deserving students. Rear Admiral Shepard died on August 25, 1998 after a lengthy illness. Click here to read Rear Admiral Shepard's NASA biography.
Lt. Colonel Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom (USAF)
Gus Grissom is a combat veteran of the Korean War, flying 100 combat missions in the F-86 Sabre with the 334th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. Grissom was one of the original Seven Mercury astronauts selected by NASA in April 1959. Grissom's first spaceflight was aboard Mercury-Redstone 4 , the capsule which he titled "Liberty Bell 7". This was the second and final suborbital Mercury test flight on July 21, 1961. The flight lasted 15 minutes and 37seconds, attained an altitude of 118 statute miles, and traveled 302 miles downrange from the launch pad at Cape Kennedy. On March 23, 1965, he served as command pilot on the first manned Gemini flight, Gemini-Titan 3, flying into space with John Young. Subsequent to this assignment, he served as backup command pilot for Gemini 6. Grissom was named to serve as commander for the Apollo AS-204 (Apollo 1) mission, the first US 3-manned Apollo flight. Sadly Gus Grissom was lost along with Ed White & Roger Chaffee on January 27, 1967, during a "plugs out" test at Pad 34-A at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. More information on this tradgedy can be found here . To read Gus Grissom's full biography click here.
Colonel John H. Glenn Jr (USMC ret.)
John Glenn is a combat veteran of WWII flying 59 combat missions in the Pacific Theatre of Operations and of 63 combat missions during the Korean War. In June 1953, Glenn volunteered for a pilot exchange program with the U.S. Air Force. During the last two months of the war, Glenn flew 27 missions patrolling the border between North Korea and China downing three enemy jet fighters during these patrols and earned the nickname, “MiG Mad Marine.” In April 1959 John Glenn was selected by NASA as one of the "Mercury 7" astronauts. Glenn was selected to fly the first US manned orbital flight aboard Mercury-Atlas 6. Glenn's flight aboard "Friendship 7" lasted 3 orbits and upon his return he became a "national treasure" and was not allowed to make any further spaceflights. Glenn always had an interest in politics and his friendship with President Kennedy helped guide him toward seeking political office. After resigning from the USMC in 1965, Glenn was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974, a position he held until his retirement from the Senate in 1998. Glenn made one more flight into space in October 1998 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-95 flying as a mission specialist. Click here to read John Glenn's NASA biography.
I purchased this print from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and is one of only 90 of these prints that was signed in silver paint-pen by all four of the Mercury-Atlas astronauts. My print is number #53 of 90. Another 300 were signed in black sharpie and these are available from the foundation for those interested in obtaining one.
Malcolm Scott Carpenter. (USN ret.)
Scott Carpenter is a former NASA astronaut and one of the original Project Mercury "Mercury 7" astronauts. Carpenter was selected as one of the original seven Mercury Astronauts on April 9, 1959. He underwent intensive training with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), specializing in communication and navigation. He served as backup pilot for John Glenn during the preparation for America’s first manned orbital space flight in February 1962. Carpenter flew the second American manned orbital flight on May 24, 1962. He piloted his Aurora 7 spacecraft through three revolutions of the earth, reaching a maximum altitude of 164 miles. The spacecraft landed in the Atlantic Ocean about 1000 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral after 4 hours and 54 minutes of flight time. On leave of absence from NASA, Carpenter participated in the Navy’s Man-in the-Sea Project as an Aquanaut in the SEALAB II program off the coast of La Jolla, California, in the summer of 1965. During the 45-day experiment, Carpenter spent 30 days living and working on the ocean floor. He was team leader for two of the three ten-man teams of Navy and civilian divers who conducted deep-sea diving activities in a seafloor habitat at a depth of 205 feet. He returned to duties with NASA as Executive Assistant to the Director of the Manned Spaceflight Center and was active in the design of the Apollo Lunar Landing Module and in underwater extravehicular activity (EVA) crew training.
Click here to read Mr. Carpenter's NASA biography.
Captain Walter M. "Wally" Schirra(USN ret)
Captain Schirra was one of the seven Mercury Astronauts named by NASA in April 1959. On October 3, 1962; he piloted the six orbit Sigma 7 Mercury flight; a flight which lasted 9 hours, 15 minutes. The spacecraft attained a velocity of 17,557 miles per hour at an altitude of 175 statue miles and traveled almost 144,000 statute miles before re-entry into the earth's atmosphere. Recovery of the Sigma 7 spacecraft occurred in the Pacific Ocean about 275 miles northeast of Midway Island. Schirra next served as backup command pilot for the Gemini VI Mission and on December 15-16, occupied the Command Pilot seat on the history-making Gemini 6 flight. The highlight of this mission was a successful rendezvous of Gemini 6 with the already orbiting Gemini 7 spacecraft, thus, accomplishing the first rendezvous of two manned maneuverable spacecraft and establishing another space first for the United States. Known as a "text book" pilot, Schirra remained in the spacecraft following his Mercury and Gemini flight and is the first Astronaut to be brought aboard recovery ships twice in this manner. With him on Gemini 6, was Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford. Schirra was the Command Pilot on Apollo VII, the first manned flight test of the three direction United States spacecraft. Apollo VII began on October 11, 1968, with Command Module Pilot Donn F. Eisele and Lunar Module Pilot Walter Cunningham. Schirra participated in, and executed, maneuvers enabling crew members to perform exercises in transposition and docking and orbit rendezvous with the S-IVB stage from the Saturn IB launch vehicle. The mission completed eight successful tests and maneuvering ignitions of the service module propulsion engine, measured the accuracy of performance of all spacecraft systems, and provided the first effective television transmission of on-board crew activities. Apollo VII was placed in an orbit with an apogee of 153.5 nautical miles and a perigee of 122.6 nautical miles. The 260 hour 4.5 million mile shake down flight was concluded on October 22, with splashdown occurring in the Atlantic some 8 miles from the carrier Essex (only 3/10 of a mile from the originally predicted aiming point). Captain Schirra has logged a total of 295 hours and 15 minutes in space. He is unique in that he is the only Astronaut to have flown Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. Click here to read Captain Schirra's NASA biography.
Colonel Leroy G. "Gordo" Cooper (USAF ret)
Colonel Cooper is a former NASA astronaut and one of the original Project Mercury Mercury 7 astronauts. A veteran of two space flights; Mercury-Atlas 9 where he flew his capsule "Faith 7"; and as Commander of Gemini GT-5 where he flew along with Charles "Pete" Conrad. Cooper's flight in Faith 7 was the final flight of the Mercury Program. During the mission, he became the first American astronaut to sleep in orbit. His mission lasted 34 hours, 19 minutes and 49 seconds, during which he completed 22 orbits and travelled 546,167 miles at 17,547 miles per hour and pulled a maximum of 7.6G's. He achieved an altitude of 165.9 statute miles at apogee (highest point in orbit) and 100.3 statute miles at perigee (lowest point in orbit). During the flight many of the Mercury capsules systems failed which meant that de-orbit and re-entry had to be flown manually without the aide of computers. With the odds stacked against him Cooper made a pinpoint perfect splashdown and landed closer to the recovery carrier than any of the previous Mercury missions. When his main parachute opened, Cooper's craft was directly above the deck of the USS Kearsarge aircraft carrier.
Donald K. "Deke" Slayton
Mr. Slayton was named as one of the Mercury astronauts in April 1959. He was originally scheduled to pilot the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission but was relieved of this assignment due to a heart condition discovered in August 1959. Slayton became Coordinator of Astronaut Activities in September 1962 and was responsible for the operation of the astronaut office. In November 1963, he resigned his commission as an Air Force Major to assume the role of Director of Flight Crew Operations. In this capacity, he was responsible for directing the activities of the astronaut office, the aircraft operations office, the flight crew integration division, the crew training and simulation division, and the crew procedures division. Slayton was restored to full flight status and certified eligible for manned space flights in March 1972, following a comprehensive review of his medical status by NASA’s Director of Life Sciences and the Federal Aviation Agency.
Mr. Slayton made his first space flight as Apollo docking module pilot of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) mission, July 15-24, 1975—a joint space flight culminating in the first historical meeting in space between American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts. Completing the United States flight crew for this 9-day earth-orbital mission were Thomas P. Stafford (Apollo commander) and Vance D. Brand (Apollo command module Pilot). In the Soviet spacecraft were cosmonauts Alexey Leonov (Soyuz commander) and Valeriy Kubasov (Soyuz flight engineer). The crewmen of both nations participated in a rendezvous and subsequent docking, with Apollo the active spacecraft. The event marked the successful testing of a universal docking system and signaled a major advance in efforts to pave the way for the conduct of joint experiments and/or the exchange of mutual assistance in future international space explorations. There were 44 hours of docked joint activities during ASTP, highlighted by four crew transfers and the completion of a number of joint scientific experiments and engineering investigations. All major ASTP objectives were accomplished and included: testing a compatible rendezvous system in orbit; testing of androgynous docking assemblies; verifying techniques for crew transfers; and gaining experience in the conduct of joint international flights. Apollo splashed down in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii and was quickly recovered by the USS New Orleans. Slayton logged 217 hours and 28 minutes in his first space flight.
From December 1975 through November 1977, Slayton served as Manager for Approach and Landing Test Project. He directed the Space Shuttle approach and landing test project through a series of critical orbiter flight tests that allowed in-flight test and checkout of flight controls and orbiter subsystems and permitted extensive evaluations of the orbiter’s subsonic flying qualities and performance characteristics.
He next served as Manager for Orbital Flight Test, directing orbital flight mission preparations and conducting mission operations. He was responsible for OFT operations scheduling, mission configuration control, preflight stack configuration control, as well as conducting planning reviews, mission readiness reviews, and postflight mission evaluations. He was also responsible for the 747/orbiter ferry program.
Slayton retired from NASA in 1982. He was president of Space Services Inc., of Houston, a company he founded to develop rockets for small commercial payloads. Sadly Donald Slayton died 13 June, 1993 from brain cancer. Click here(ASTP) to read Mr. Slayton's NASA biography.