During the summer of 1962 final preparations were underway for the first U.S. attempt to reach another planet. The planet was Venus, Earth’s closest planetary neighbor. This first flight would be accomplished by the JPL built Mariner 2 spacecraft…
After Scott Carpenter’s science heavy Mercury-Atlas 7 flight, Nasa’s next mission would concentrate on the technical and engineering aspects of space travel. Mercury Atlas 8 became the third manned orbital flight of the Mercury program. The pilot selected was Walter M. Schirra, Jr., but most people called him Wally…
In February of 1962, the United States put John Glenn into orbit. This prompted Soviet leadership to suddenly asked Chief Designer Korolev to launch the next space spectacular promptly. To make this mission truly spectacular the Soviets decided to launch a group flight of two Vostoks lasting up to four days in orbit.
Vostok 4 on Pad
Popovich in Orbit
Nikolaev & Popovich
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After the successful completion of the Mercury-Atlas 6 flight that carried John Glenn into orbit, it was Scott Carpenter’s turn to pilot Mercury-Atlas 7, which he named Aurora 7. The mission was essentially a repeat of John Glenn’s 3 orbit mission, except the focus of this mission was on science. The full flight plan included the first study of liquids in weightlessness, Earth photography, star observations, Venus sightings and a multitude of other experiments…
Mercury Control was still undecided on the course of action to take with the heat shield problem. Some controllers thought the retrorocket pack should be jettisoned after retrofire, while other controllers thought the retro pack should be retained, as added assurance that the heat shield would stay in place…
“I am in a big mass of some very small particles, they’re brilliantly lit up like they’re luminescent. I never saw anything like it! They round a little: they’re coming by the capsule and they look like little stars. A whole shower of them coming by. They swirl around the capsule and go in front of the window and they’re all brilliantly lighted.” John Glenn – Friendship 7