On 9 April 1959, NASA announced the “Mercury 7″ astronauts who would
become the first Americans in space. Pictured here
from right to left are the astronauts: Walter Schirra, Alan Shepard, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Donald “Deke” Slayton, John Glenn,
Scott Carpenter, and Gordon Cooper,
On April 9, 1959, the Mercury Seven were introduced to the world (and each other) for the first time. Scott Carpenter, Gordo Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton were announced as NASA’s original astronauts, “selected to begin training for orbital space flight.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it, before or since. It was just a frenzy of light bulbs and questions. It was some kind of roar. I know I stumbled through a couple of answers.
What was the real surprise was watching John Glenn. Someone asked if our wives were behind us. Six of us said, ‘Sure,’ as if that had ever been a real consideration. Glenn piped up with a damn speech about God and family and destiny. We all looked at him, and then each other.”
Less than a year after its birth,
the National Aeronautics and Space Agency announced its first astronaut
class, the Mercury Seven, on April 9, 1959. Project Mercury proved that
humans could live and work in space, paving the way for all future
This cutaway drawing of the Mercury capsule was used by the Space Task Group at the first NASA inspection, on October 24, 1959.