Mercury Seven

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In 1958 to aggressively pursue the exploration of space, “the next frontier”, President Dwight Eisenhower created The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (The Space Race). The United States was passionate about the space program and the national media, primarily through television, did their part to fuel the flame (The Space Race). In the 1960’s, “astronauts”, a mixture of the words “aeronauts,” (ballooning pioneers) and “Argonauts,” (the legendary Greeks in search of the Golden Fleece), would become the ultimate American heroes (NASA).“What kind of man could manage to be part pilot, engineer, explorer, scientist, guinea pig, -and part hero- and do equal justice to each of the diverse and demanding roles that was being thrust upon him?” (Carpenter, Cooper, Jr., Glenn, Jr., Grissom, Schirra, Jr., Shepard, Jr., and Slayton 9). It would seem a near impossible task to find one man, let alone seven, to fit the full description. Through an incredibly challenging and one of a kind screening process, NASA was able to identify men who possessed all of those traits. The first astronauts would be deemed “Supermen” or as they would later be introduced to the world, “The Mercury Seven” (Carpenter, Cooper, Jr., Glenn, Jr., Grissom, Schirra, Jr., Shepard, Jr., and Slayton 9). There were 508 test pilots who signed up to be a part of Project Mercury. Of those applicants, only 110 met the mission mandated requirements: Height: 5’ 11” and under; Age: 40 or younger; Weight: 180 or less (Burgess 7). The 110 applicants were later culled down to 32 men willing to endure an extensive and sometimes odd battery of medical and psychological tests (Carpenter, Cooper, Jr., Glenn, Jr., Grissom, Schirra, Jr., Shepard, Jr., and Slayton 9). The candi... ... middle of paper ... ...he “right stuff” and would go on to leave their mark on history. Works Cited Burgess, Colin. Selecting the Mercury Seven The Search for America's First Astronauts. Chichester, UK: Praxis Publishing, 2011. 1- 359. eBook. Carpenter, M. Scott, L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., John H. Glenn, Jr., Virgil I. Grissom, Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Alan B. Shepard, Jr., and Donald K. Slayton. We Seven By the Astronauts Themselves. Paperback. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2010. 1 - 352. Print. "Project Mercury Overview." NASA. N.p., 30 Nov 2006. Web. 16 Jan 2014. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mercury/missions/overview- intro.html#.UtiqtPZRasE. “The Space Race.” 2014. The History Channel website. Jan 16 2014, 7:23 http://www.history.com/topics/space-race. Wolfe, Tom, writ. The Right Stuff. Dir. Kaufman, and Writ. Kaufman. Warner Bros., 1983. Film. 16 Jan 2014.

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