James Alton “Jim” McDivitt was born on June 10, 1929, in Chicago, Illinois. He is of Irish descent. Like many other astronauts, he was a Boy Scout and earned the rank of Tenderfoot Scout. He graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School, Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1947.
The success of Gus Grissom and John Young’s Gemini 3 flight paved the way for long duration space missions. The longest U.S. manned space flight to date was Gordon Cooper’s 34 hour Mercury flight. The Soviets, however, had four long duration flights to their credit, ranging from 70 to 119 hours. It was time for the US to attempt a long duration flight.