- April 9 -

NASA Announced the First Astronauts

On April 9, 1959, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) introduces America's first astronauts to the press: Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper Jr., John H. Glenn Jr., Virgil

NASA Announced the First Astronauts

On April 9, 1959, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) introduces America's first astronauts to the press: Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper Jr., John H. Glenn Jr., Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Walter Schirra Jr., Alan Shepard Jr., and Donald Slayton. The seven men, all military test pilots, were carefully selected from a group of 32 candidates to take part in Project Mercury, America's first manned space program. NASA planned to begin manned orbital flights in 1961.

On October 4, 1957, the USSR scored the first victory of the "space race" when it successfully launched the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik, into Earth's orbit. In response, the United States consolidated its various military and civilian space efforts into NASA, which dedicated itself to beating the Soviets to manned space flight. In January 1959, NASA began the astronaut selection procedure, screening the records of 508 military test pilots and choosing 110 candidates. This number was arbitrarily divided into three groups, and the first two groups reported to Washington. Because of the high rate of volunteering, the third group was eliminated. Of the 62 pilots who volunteered, six were found to have grown too tall since their last medical examination. An initial battery of written tests, interviews, and medical history reviews further reduced the number of candidates to 36. After learning of the extreme physical and mental tests planned for them, four of these men dropped out.

The final 32 candidates traveled to the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they underwent exhaustive medical and psychological examinations. The men proved so healthy, however, that only one candidate was eliminated. The remaining 31 candidates then traveled to the Wright Aeromedical Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, where they underwent the most grueling part of the selection process. For six days and three nights, the men were subjected to various tortures that tested their tolerance of physical and psychological stress. Among other tests, the candidates were forced to spend an hour in a pressure chamber that simulated an altitude of 65,000 feet, and two hours in a chamber that was heated to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. At the end of one week, 18 candidates remained. From among these men, the selection committee was to choose six based on interviews, but seven candidates were so strong they ended up settling on that number.

After they were announced, the "Mercury Seven" became overnight celebrities. The Mercury Project suffered some early setbacks, however, and on April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited Earth in the world's first manned space flight. Less than one month later, on May 5, astronaut Alan Shepard was successfully launched into space on a suborbital flight. On February 20, 1962, in a major step for the U.S. space program, John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. NASA continued to trail the Soviets in space achievements until the late 1960s, when NASA's Apollo program put the first men on the moon and safely returned them to Earth.

In 1998, 36 years after his first space flight, John Glenn traveled into space again. Glenn, then 77 years old, was part of the Space Shuttle Discovery crew, whose 9-day research mission launched on October 29, 1998. Among the crew's investigations was a study of space flight and the aging process.

Source:
http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-astronauts-introduced

Categories:

More holidays on this day:

Jenkins' Ear day

You may also like...

Interesting events from Science category.

Sofia Kovalevskaya Math Day

Today we are celebrate the life of Sofia Kovalevskaya and the contributions she made to mathmatics. This holiday is also a grant-making program of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM), funding workshops which encourage girls to explore mathematics. Sofia Vasilyevna...

World Intellectual Property Day

World Intellectual Property Day is sometimes referred as World IP Day. World Intellectual Property Day is observed annually on 26 April. The event was established by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2000 to 'raise awareness of how patents, copyright, trademarks and...

Nikola Tesla's Birthday

Nikola Tesla symbolizes a unifying force and inspiration for all nations in the name of peace and science. Tesla was a pioneer in many fields. The Tesla coil, which he invented in 1891, is widely used today in radio and television sets and other electronic equipment. His alternating...

Mole Day

Mole Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated among chemists and chemistry students on October 23, between 6:02 AM and 6:02 PM, making the date 6:02 10/23 in the American style of writing dates. The time and date are derived from Avogadro's number, which is approximately 6.02×1023, defining the...

Microsoft Released Windows

On November 10, 1983, at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, Microsoft Corporation formally announced Microsoft Windows, a next-generation operating system that would provide a graphical user interface (GUI) and a multitasking environment for IBM computers. The history of Windows dates back to...

Wright Brothers Day

On Dec. 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright successfully flew the first powered flying machine in Kitty Hawk, N.C. Even though the flight lasted for only 12 seconds and 120 feet. On the fourth and final flight of the day, Wilbur traveled 852 feet, remaining airborne for 59 seconds. That morning,...

Download KeepIn Calendar

Enjoy the interesting stories even on your phone or tablet