With the passing of John Glenn last week, I thought it would be appropriate to pause my coverage of Apollo 10 for a week and create an episode that celebrates the life of the American Icon, John Glenn. I covered John Glenn’s Mercury flight in episodes 30-31. I am going to re-release those episodes over the next 2 days. So I won’t spend a lot of time on his Mercury flight in this episode, that will be covered tomorrow.
This was Flight Director Chris Kraft’s first major problem at the new Mission Control Center in Houston. He knew the spacecraft had enough battery power for reentry even if the fuel cells failed completely, but he needed to know if there would be time enough to reach a good reentry zone, such as the mid-Pacific near Hawaii on the sixth orbit…
By this time the Astronauts were thinking about a nickname for their spacecraft, but NASA Headquarters now officially refused to allow nicknames for Gemini spacecraft. However, Gordo Cooper was not so easily put off. Pete Conrad’s father-in-law had whittled a model covered wagon, which inspired Cooper with the idea for a crew patch, that would depict a covered wagon, emblazoned with the legend “Eight Days or Bust.” A personal appeal to NASA Administrator Webb led, after much discussion, to approval of the “Cooper patch.” But Webb greatly disliked the motto because he believed if the mission did not go the full eight days, people would say it had “busted.”
Mercury-Atlas 9 was the fourth and final manned orbital flight of the Mercury program. The flight objectives were to:
(1) evaluate the effects on the astronaut of approximately one day in orbital flight;
(2) verify that man can function for an extended period in space as a primary operating system of the spacecraft; and,
(3) evaluate in a manned one-day mission the combined performance of the astronaut and a Mercury spacecraft specifically modified for the mission…
On April 1, 1959, Robert Gilruth, the head of the Space Task Group, Charles Donlan, Warren North, and Stanley White selected the first American astronauts. The “Mercury Seven” were Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., John H. Glenn, Jr., Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Alan B. Shepard, Jr., and Donald K. “Deke” Slayton.