With Group 4, for the first time, the selection criteria did not include a requirement for test pilot proficiency. Selectees who were not qualified pilots would be assigned to the Air Force for a year of flight training. The primary scientific requirement was a doctorate in medicine, engineering, or one of the natural sciences.
Selection of Group Two virtually depleted the pool of qualified candidates from the small corps of test pilots in the country, and it was the last group for which test-pilot certification would be a requirement. The new trainees reported to Houston in October 1962 to begin a two-year training course. A four-day work week was normally scheduled, the fifth day being reserved for public relations duties or for travel.
Over 52 years ago, in the early hours of May 5th, 1961 the US prepared to launch its first man into space. Three weeks earlier, the Soviet Union had sent Yuri Gagarin on an orbital mission. This was a suborbital mission planed to last only 15 minutes. For the moment that did not matter, the entire nation held its breath while Alan Shepard became America’s first man in space.
In January 1960, President Eisenhower directed NASA Administrator Glennan to accelerate the Super Booster Program that had recently been assigned to NASA. This order ensured the transfer of the von Braun group from the Army Ballistic Missile Agency to NASA, and it gave Glennan the launch vehicle development and management capability that he needed.
The goal of the nation’s space program should be the scientific exploration of the moon and the planets but also to recognize that nontechnical factors are vital to public acceptance of a space program. Human exploration of the moon and planets would be potentially the greatest inspirational venture of the 20th century and one in which the world could share; inherent here are great and fundamental philosophical and spiritual values which find a response in man’s questing spirit to explore. Thus the space exploration program must be developed on the premise that man will be included. Failure to adopt this premise will inevitably prevent man’s inclusion, presumably because of the costs involved. From a scientific standpoint there seems little room for dissent that man’s participation in the exploration of the Moon and planets will be essential, if and when it becomes technologically feasible to include him.
In October 1965, Elliot M. See and Charles A. Bassett II were selected to fly Gemini IX. Chief Astronaut Deke Slayton also told them that their backups would be Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan. At that time Stafford was copilot for Gemini VI…
“We have had a conversation with the Carnarvon tracking station and their report keeps coming back – No joy – No joy.” NASA Public Affairs Officer Paul Haney.
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…