RE: 50 years ago today: April 9, 1959

From: Derek C Breit (
Date: Thu Apr 09 2009 - 16:56:37 UTC

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    WOOO HOOO!.. I happen to be related to Alan Shepard and have a Freedom 7
    patch prominently displayed in my 'Office'..
    The first 7 US astronauts were selected to the Mercury Project. 
    Only 2 are still alive. From Wikipedia:
    The first Americans to  venture into space were drawn from a group of 110 
    military pilots chosen for  their flight test experience and because they
    certain physical requirements.  NASA announced the selection of seven of 
    these - known as the Mercury Seven - as  astronauts on 9 April 1959, though 
    only six of the seven flew Mercury missions,  after Slayton was grounded due
    to a heart condition.
    * Malcolm Scott  Carpenter, USN (1925-) ALIVE
    * Leroy Gordon "Gordo" Cooper, Jr., USAF  (1927-2004)
    * John Herschel Glenn, Jr., USMC (1921-) First American to orbit  the 
    earth. ALIVE
    * Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom, USAF (1926-1967) Died during  Apollo 1 
    Pre-Launch Test
    * Walter Marty "Wally" Schirra, Jr., USN  (1923-2007)
    * Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr., USN (1923-1998) First American in  space.
    * Donald Kent "Deke" Slayton, USAF (1924-1993) Grounded in 1962 due to  
    irregular heartbeat, reinstated in 1972 and later flew on the Apollo-Soyuz
     Project in 1975.
    Beginning with Alan Shepard's Freedom 7 flight, the  astronauts named their 
    own spacecraft, and all added "7" to the name to  acknowledge the teamwork 
    of their fellow astronauts.
    I had the great  honor to meet and interview John Glenn in 1988 at the 
    Kennedy Space Center prior  to the launch of STS-26; the first shuttle
    after the Challenger  accident.-- joe rao
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