On April 9, 1959, NASA introduced its first class of astronauts. This group of young people was known as Mercury 7 astronauts.
They were all military pilots before they were selected for the job, and they had all the “necessary equipment” to take on those difficult missions. But in a way, they became guinea pigs for NASA’s new human flight program, because they didn’t do much to fly in the Mercury spacecraft.
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Some of the pilots were not very happy with this. But the rest of the country didn’t pay attention to that, and Mercury 7 soon became a national army. In 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American to fly in space, followed by Gus Grissom.
Then, in 1962, John Glenn became the first American to circumnavigate the Earth. After that, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra and Gordon Cooper completed the orbital missions. Deke Slayton, the only Mercury 7 astronaut not to fly a Mercury mission, later flew on the historic Apollo-Soyuz mission, the first joint flight by two countries: the United States. and the Soviet Union.
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