Mercury Seven: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Back Row - Shepard, Grissom, Cooper; Front Row - Schirra, Slayton, Glenn, Carpenter.
This was the only time the seven astronauts would appear together in pressure suits.[1] Note that Slayton and Glenn are wearing work boots that were spray-painted.
(L to R) Cooper, Schirra, Shepard, Grissom, Glenn, Slayton and Carpenter
A chart showing Group 1 assignments in Mercury, Gemini and Apollo in relation to assignments from subsequent astronaut groups.

The Mercury Seven was the group of seven Mercury astronauts picked by NASA on April 9, 1959. They are also referred to as the Original Seven and Astronaut Group 1. This was the only astronaut group with members that flew on all classes of NASA manned spacecraft of the 20th century: Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and ending with John Glenn's flight on the STS-95 Space Shuttle mission.

In May 2009, the surviving members of the Mercury Seven were Glenn and Scott Carpenter.


Selection process

President Dwight D. Eisenhower insisted that all candidates be test pilots with college degrees, although Glenn was selected despite lacking the latter prerequisite; he dropped out of college in 1941 to join the Army Air Corps. Because of the small space inside the Mercury spacecraft, candidates could be no taller than 5 feet 11 inches (180 cm) and weigh no more than 180 pounds (82 kg).[2]

NASA identified 69 candidates and brought them to Washington, DC for extensive physical and mental exams. Six candidates were rejected as too tall for the planned spacecraft. Another 33 failed or dropped out during the first phase of exams. Four more refused to take part in the second round of tests which included spending hours on treadmills and tilt tables and submerging their feet in ice water. The second phase of testing eliminated eight more candidates, leaving 18. From that group of 18, the first seven NASA Astronauts were chosen.[3] Despite the extensive medical evaluation, two of the seven (Shepard and Slayton) were soon grounded for undiagnosed medical conditions and sat out the entirety of Project Gemini and most of the Apollo program (and Mercury as well, in Slayton's case) supervising the active astronauts.

The astronauts wrote first-hand accounts of their selection and preparation for the Mercury missions in the 1962 book We Seven. Additionally, each of them separately wrote at least one book describing their astronaut experiences. In 1979 Tom Wolfe published a less sanitized version of their story in The Right Stuff. Wolfe's book was the basis for the popular film directed by Philip Kaufman.

Group members

MR-3 (Freedom 7), Apollo 14
MR-4 (Liberty Bell 7), Gemini 3, Apollo 1
MA-6 (Friendship 7), STS-95
MA-7 (Aurora 7)
MA-8 (Sigma 7), Gemini 6A, Apollo 7
MA-9 (Faith 7), Gemini 5
Apollo-Soyuz Test Project


  1. ^ Slayton, Donald K.; Cassutt, Michael (1994). Deke!. New York: Forge. pp. 87. ISBN 0312-85918-X.  
  2. ^ Slayton, Donald K.; Alan Shepard, Jay Barbree, Howard Beneduict (1994). Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon. Turner Publishing. ISBN 1-57036-167-3.  
  3. ^ Carmichael, Mary (Nov-Dec 2007). "Actually, It Is Rocket Science: NASA's Brilliant, Far-Out History". Mental_Floss 6 (6): 42.  

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