(Fred Weinberg) – I’m a child of the 60’s. I remember watching the original seven Astronauts being introduced on a black and white TV. I remember watching Alan Shepard’s history-making Mercury sub-orbital flight.
I remember watching us do it again with Gus Grissom.
I remember watching all three orbits of John Glenn’s history making flight. And understanding in detail how Glenn’s Mercury capsule would fire its retro-rockets, change its attitude and re-enter the atmosphere, heat shield first, land near the USS Noa and be recovered.
I also knew that Glenn had to manually take control of the capsule and fire the retro-pack himself.
I remember Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper, Scott Carpenter and Deke Slayton. Slayton didn’t fly in project Mercury because he had a heart murmur and was forced to wait many years for his day in space.
These guys were genuine American heroes who most young people growing up knew as well as any baseball player in the Hall of Fame.
Those of us who followed the space program more closely knew that the man pulling the strings at NASA those days was Chris Kraft, the flight director.
We knew things like the first suborbital flights were achieved by using a Redstone rocket while the rest of the orbital flights used an Atlas ICBM which was originally developed to deliver an atomic bomb to Moscow USSR from Moscow Idaho.
And we knew these things as surely as we knew the intricacies of the infield fly rule. I remember the Gemini and Apollo missions and I especially remember the day Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon in 1969.
I was a kid and I just knew we were doing the right thing. I still know today that we did the right thing.
The last of the Project Mercury astronauts died last week at age 95.
Marine Colonel John Glenn (retired) was the first American to orbit the earth and take manual control of a space capsule, Friendship 7.
In 1998, at age 77, he flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery to further research on the space environment’s effects on aging.
Asked why he told the chance in 1998 he said that he thought it would be helpful for the nation.
We use the word “hero” pretty loosely these days.
But, I’m pretty sure that’s the word which my contemporaries would use to label John Glenn.
Mr. Weinberg is publisher of the Penny Press. Get to know more about him by visiting www.PennyPressNV.com.