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[ FLORIDA  ]  TIME & SPACE

[ EXPLORE ]

1961

 

Space

Race

 

AMERICAN vs. RUSSIA

Some Russian thing called “Sputnik” flew by overhead,
and the race to put a man on the moon was on.

 

Stairway to the Stars
b / Ella Fitzgerald

6

((*AlanShepard-LaunchRecoveryTimeMagazine

OriginalNoise.Org

1959

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is created.

(NASA) invites test pilots, from around the United States Armed Services to join its next generation of military flyers. Although Alan Shepard’s invitation was “lost in the mail,” and he never officially received an offer to join, he had been on NASA’s list from the beginning, and he was selected to be one of America’s Original 7 Astronauts.

Known as the Mercury 7, the group included John Glenn, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Donald “Deke” Slayton, Malcolm “Scott” Carpenter, Walter “Wally” Schirra and Gordon Cooper. After two years of grueling and dangerous training, Shepard was the one selected to pilot America’s first flight into space, with Glenn, serving as his backup.
The Launch of Freedom 7 took on a sense of more urgency (April 15, 1961) when the Soviet Union launched cosmonaut  Yuri Gagarin, and the Russians became the first to break free of the Earth’s atmosphere, and significantly, flew on to also become the first person to orbit the Earth.

 

OriginalNoise.Org

Part of the Space Coast ritual, when watching rockets ignite and rumble loudly away from Cape Canaveral, is after they disappear into the distance, is to go back into the house, and see the replay, and listen to the commentary (and mission control) as they continue to accelerate and speed toward their destination. For shuttles, most missions were to the International Space Station, or to manually maintain, adjust, or repair andy number of orbiting communications or telescope equipped satellites.

AMERICAN vs. RUSSIA

Some Russian thing called “Sputnik” flew by overhead,
and the race to put a man on the moon was on.

 

Flight

To Be Free

The Soviets beat the Americans by less than a month. Shepard’s launch was initially scheduled for May 2, but was rescheduled twice because of bad weather.

May 5, 1961 Freedom 7 lifted off, carrying Shepard to an altitude of 116 miles (187 kilometers) for a 15-minute, suborbital flight. Because of the placement of the porthole windows on his capsule, Shepard was unable to see the stars, and a filter on his telescope, looking back, made the Earth appear black and white. He was also strapped in too tight to experience weightlessness.

Although The Soviets had reached outer space first, and Gagarin had orbited the Earth, Shepard’s shorter, and suborbital flight had a more significant, worldwide impact. Unlike with Gagarin’s mostly secret mission, Shepard’s launch, flight, and splashdown were broadcast on live television, and seen by millions, all around the World.

While the Russians publicized Gagarin’s name was publicized, many of the details of his flight were kept confidential for years, including the fact that he had he abandoned his capsule, and parachuted to Earth, rather than landing his spacecraft. Shepard was also ceremonially awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, at the White House by president  John F. Kennedy.

  “The Bridge”


1969

“Fly Me To The Moon”
b/ Allan Harris

6

Tom Wolfe’s book (movie) “The Right Stuff”  is  one of the best told stories about America’s Space Program. Specifically, the Mercury Program, and the Original 7 astronauts who were chosen to explore outer space.

 

1947 The Muroc Army Air Field in California has test pilots fly high-speed aircraft such as the rocket-powered Bell X-1, but some are killed as a result. After another pilot, Slick Goodlin, demands $150,000 (equivalent to $1,683,000 in 2018) to attempt to break the sound barrier, war hero Captain Chuck Yeager receives the chance to fly the X-1. While on a horseback ride with his wife Glennis, Yeager collides with a tree branch and breaks his ribs, which inhibits him from leaning over and locking the door to the X-1. Worried that he might not fly the mission, Yeager confides in friend and fellow pilot Jack Ridley. Ridley cuts off part of a broomstick and tells Yeager to use it as a lever to help seal the hatch to the X-1, and Yeager becomes the first person to fly at supersonic speed, defeating the “demon in the sky.”

Six years later, Muroc, now Edwards Air Force Base, still attracts the best test pilots. Yeager (now a major) and friendly rival Scott Crossfield repeatedly break the other’s speed records. They often visit the Happy Bottom Riding Club run by Pancho Barnes, who classifies the pilots at Edwards as either “prime” (such as Yeager and Crossfield) that fly the best equipment or newer “pudknockers” who only dream about it.

Gordon “Gordo” Cooper, Virgil “Gus” Grissom and Donald “Deke” Slayton, captains of the United States Air Force, were among the “pudknockers” who hoped to also prove that they had “The Right Stuff.”

“No bucks, no Buck Rogers.”

Officials understand, that rather than keep their test program secret, it would be better for fund raising if they promoted the most exciting new program, rather than hide it.

Cooper’s wife, Trudy, and other wives are afraid of becoming widows, but cannot change their husbands’ ambitions and desire for success and fame.

1957 The Russian satellite Sputnik alarms the United States. Senator Lyndon B. Johnson and military leaders demand that NASA help America defeat the Russians in what was called the Space Race.

The search for the first Americans in space excludes Yeager because he lacks a college degree.

 

1960

The Original Seven
Mercury 7 Astronauts
John Glenn
Alan Shepard
Wally Schirra
Scott Carpenter
Gordon “Gordo” Cooper
Virgil “Gus” Grissom
Donald “Deke” Slayton
Mercury
Gemini
Apollo

 

April 12, 1961  Yuri Gagarin, the Russian, having been the First Man In Space, inspires a humiliated United States of America. The Original Seven couldn’t have been more motivated to get in the Race to The Moon.

May 5, 1961 Alan Shepard is the First “American” In Space
(15-minute, sub-orbital flight, rocket: Redstone 3)

American Hero
February 20, 1962 John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth (Mercury/Atlas 6). After surviving a fiery re-entry with a dangerously loose heat shield on his capsule, Glenn splashed down a celebrity. After a ticker-tape parade (5th Ave. NYC), he, his fellow astronauts, and their families became the center of pop culture attention, including a Texas-size celebration in the Sam Houston Coliseum to announce the opening of the Manned Space Center in Houston.

MERCURY / ORIGINAL 7 SITE

 

Andy Warhol
The Meaning of Pop
(American Pop
Interview Magazine
Basquiat
The Doors
Men In Black 3 …

Although test pilots at Edwards mock the Mercury Astronauts as “spam in a can,”  they do recognize that they are no longer the fastest men on Earth. “it takes a special kind of man to volunteer for a suicide mission” Yeager said, “especially when it’s on national TV.”
Lockheed NF-104A, Yeager attempts to set a new altitude record in a brand new Lockheed NF-104A that would take him to the edge of space. As he climbed to where he could see out of the Earth’s atmosphere, the 104A’s engine stalled, and Yeager was seriously burned when he had to eject as the plane plumeted toward the desert floor. Surviving the fall, Yeager gathered up his spent parachute before walking himself to an approaching ambulance, proving that, although never making it to space, he no doubt always had The Right Stuff.

May 15, 1963 — Cooper has a successful launch (Mercury/Atlas 9) ending the Mercury program. As the last American to fly into space alone, he “went higher, farther, and faster than any other American … for a brief moment, “Gordo” Cooper became the greatest pilot anyone had ever seen.”

1969
“Fly Me To The Moon”
b/ Allan Harris (2007)
6

As the war in Vietnam raged hotter than ever, Easy Rider was the Hollywood movie that came to define the time America escaped the most violent and angry decade, but long before the careless sex, drugs, and rock n roll of the 1970s.

Jimi Hendrix laid down a rock n roll foundation that electric guitarist are still building upon today, 50 years later … and he did it mostly between 1967 and 1970, the year he died.

1961

 

..“Stairway

 

To The Stars”
b/ The Temptations (Motown)

6

A Florida Journalist, Photographer, and Art Director with an eclectic client list of individuals and organizations with musical, visual, educational, and editorial interests.

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