The Mercury Seven were a group of seven astronauts chosen to pilot Project Mercury spacecraft. They are also known as the "Original Seven" and "Astronaut Group 1." Grissom flew Mercury and Gemini flights until dying in the Apollo 1 fire in 1967; the others all served until retirement. Shepard died in 2004; Coleman died in 2008 at the age of 74.
They were: John Glenn, who became the first American to orbit the Earth; Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon; Buzz Aldrin, who accompanied Armstrong on that mission; Charlie Duke, who shared Armstrong's flight; James Lovell, who commanded the ill-fated Apollo 13; and David Scott, who was killed along with his wife and three children when their plane crashed in France during an emergency return from the lunar surface.
Glenn suffered a heart attack and stroke while flying over Ohio in 1962 and died weeks later on February 9, 1998. He is the only person to have been awarded both the Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
Armstrong died on August 5, 2012. He had been living in Houston, Texas.
Coleman retired in 1974 after four space flights. He died on September 9, 2008. He was 77 years old.
Shepard died on April 18, 2003. He was 42 years old.
The whole Mercury Seven crew finally traveled into space. From May 1961 to May 1963, they piloted the six spaceflights of the Mercury program with an astronaut on board, and members of the group flew on all of NASA's human spaceflight missions of the twentieth century—Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle.
They included Alan Shepard, who became the first American in space; John Glenn, who became the first person to orbit the Earth; and Neil Armstrong, who became the first man to walk on the Moon. All seven men were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Shepard, Glenn, and Armstrong went on to become presidential candidates from the Republican Party, and they all won their elections. They were not alone in space: Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first man to travel in space, and German astronaut Ernst Messerschmidt was the first European. But because of political problems with Russia at the time, the United States took charge of the space program.
As for the other Mercury astronauts: Schirra finished second behind Glenn for the most popular vote among voters in his home state of Ohio, and Grissom was third. None of them made it into space again before the end of the Mercury program in April 1968.
The entire group except for Grissom signed up for another mission after his death, but funding issues prevented them from flying together again.
Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton were the seven original American astronauts. The Mercury Seven established a new profession in the United States and the image of the American astronaut for decades to come.
Carpenter was born on July 19, 1920 in Detroit, Michigan. He was one of three children of Edward Carpenter and Mary Louise (Glenn) Carpenter. His father was a car salesman who also served as president of the local chapter of the American Legion. Young Scott showed an interest in aviation at an early age and built his own airplane when he was only 10 years old. In 1939, at the age of 17, he became one of the first people to receive a pilot's license from the Civil Aeronautics Board. Two years later, at the age of 19, he flew more than 50 hours in 40 different types of aircraft before being accepted into the Navy Air Corps.
After graduating from college with honors, Carpenter joined the Navy as a naval aviator in April 1945. He was assigned to fly combat missions over Japan, but the war ended before he could be deployed. After his tour of duty was up, he stayed in the Navy and was given a job as a test pilot for NASA.
Shepard was born on March 18, 1923 in Meridian, Mississippi.
"As a Mercury Seven astronaut, Gordon Cooper's legacy is forever knit into the fabric of the Kennedy Space Center," stated center director Jim Kennedy. Schirra, Glenn, and Scott Carpenter are the last remaining Mercury astronauts. In the 1967 Apollo 1 fire, Virgil "Gus" Grissom perished; Donald K. "Deke" Slayton was fired as head of NASA for his role in the incident.
Schirra is the only surviving member of the first group of seven men to fly on a manned mission into space. He has been active in politics and public affairs since retiring from NASA in 1971. Glenn and Carpenter remain active in space exploration; they have visited space stations twice and are set to visit again in 2020.
Glenn was elected to Congress in 1974 but was killed in an airplane crash two years later while campaigning. Carpenter died in office in 2013 at the age of 83 due to complications from heart surgery.
The others members of the first group of seven men to fly into orbit are John Glenn, who was the first American to orbit the Earth; Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon; Buzz Aldrin, who accompanied Armstrong during one portion of the mission; and Charles Duke "2d" Walker, Jr., who was launched into space but never recovered.
NASA's first human spaceflight program was Project Mercury. The program's seven astronauts became known as the Mercury Seven. NASA's Project Mercury is commemorated on this stamp. What exactly was Project Mercury? The first NASA initiative to send American astronauts into space was Project Mercury. Project Mercury consisted of seven missions that began on May 5, 1959 and ended on March 24, 1963. The goals of Project Mercury were threefold: 1 obtain useful experience in order to conduct additional manned projects 2 prove the ability of humans to live and work in orbit 3 provide scientific data about the effects of weightlessness on the human body.
Project Mercury was a success. Not only did it show that people could survive in space for long periods of time, but it also gave us important information about the effects of zero gravity on the human body. Moreover, five of the seven astronauts who made up the Mercury Seven went on to have successful careers at NASA, including Alan Shepard, John Glenn, and Mike Collins. The last Mercury mission was John Glenn's orbital flight around the Earth on Friendship 7. It was this mission that made Glenn the first American to orbit the world.
The Mercury Program is considered a landmark in the history of space exploration. It proved that people could live and work in outer space and it showed that America could lead the world in astronautics.