Questions tagged [project-mercury]

Project Mercury was the first human spaceflight program of the United States.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
8 votes
2 answers
268 views

Deke Slayton's Molded Mercury Capsule Couch?

Recently got a hard question from an observant, sharp-eyed, and curious high school astronomy teacher: Reference this article about some of the training the Mercury Seven astronauts did. Note that the ...
user avatar
  • 3,130
13 votes
1 answer
271 views

What caused the bruises when the Mercury capsule was opened by the astronauts?

I recently read a little about the Liberty Bell 7 incident. I read that one proof that Grissom did not open the hatch by himself is that he has no bruise on his hand which was observed on other ...
user avatar
  • 233
19 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is this pin on John Glenn's suit jacket?

I'm watching the documentary "The Real Right Stuff". Around the 14 minute mark they show a clip of a news interview of the 7 mercury astronauts describing how their family feels about them ...
user avatar
  • 301
13 votes
1 answer
835 views

Tracking of spacecrafts of the Mercury project

In the absence of any communication satellite in 1958, back in Mercury times, how did the tracking centers, which were spread world across, communicated with each other, passed on their data to the ...
user avatar
  • 3,402
4 votes
1 answer
97 views

What kind of training did chimpanzees go through at the Chimp College?

In the Congress hearings on qualifications for astronauts in July 1962, a "Chimp University" where chimpanzees are trained for spaceflight is mentioned. Miss COBB. I have passed physical, ...
user avatar
  • 4,820
2 votes
1 answer
103 views

How long did the Mercury astronauts have to stay in the isolation tank?

Among the many things Mercury astronaut candidates had to go through, they had to go through a sensory deprivation experiment and spend some time in a sensory isolation tank. How long did they have to ...
user avatar
  • 4,820
7 votes
1 answer
725 views

Which spacecraft are models in this Astronaut Group 1+2 photo?

The picture below of NASA Astronaut Groups 1 and 2 was taken in February 1963. Astronaut Group 1 was the original Mercury 7, and are seated in the front row (Cooper, Grissom, Carpenter, Schirra, ...
user avatar
  • 46.6k
5 votes
1 answer
176 views

What pictures did Mrs. Hart show to Congress?

In the record of the July 17 and 18, 1962 "Qualifications for Astronauts" hearings before the special subcommittee on the selection of astronauts that was organized to know if women could ...
user avatar
  • 4,820
4 votes
2 answers
99 views

Are there any pictures of the Qualifications for Astronauts hearing for the House of Representatives?

On July 17th and 18th, 1962, a hearing was organized in front of Congress for the special subcommittee on the selection of astronauts. This hearing was organized to ascertain whether women could be ...
user avatar
  • 4,820
17 votes
2 answers
3k views

How did astronauts tie the laces on their gloves?

I've been looking through images from the Smithsonian regarding early space exploration. In particular, I found this picture of a spacesuit glove, that has laces on it. In the picture's description, ...
user avatar
  • 4,820
2 votes
2 answers
161 views

Were photographs or optical measurements of orbital craft from the ground ever used during early crewed spaceflight missions?

The lengthy and interesting blogpost Baker-Nunn Camera, Island Lagoon on Colin Mackellar's Honeysuckle Creek website includes a photo of "Gemini 10 (with John Young and Mike Collins onboard) and ...
user avatar
  • 148k
12 votes
1 answer
1k views

How did the Mercury Seven compare in military seniority?

The seven Mercury astronauts were required to be military test pilots, which in turn meant that they held a rank as a military officer. At the time they were chosen (i.e. not later promotions), how ...
user avatar
  • 46.6k
6 votes
1 answer
581 views

When did Chevrolet stop giving astronauts Corvettes?

According to Wikipedia, General Motors made a deal to give cars to the Mercury astronauts at drastically discounted prices. Pictures of America's heroes driving their cars was good marketing for GM. ...
user avatar
  • 46.6k
9 votes
1 answer
928 views

What would have happened if an Apollo/Gemini/Mercury splashdown hit a ship?

This had to be a possibility - an unguided splashdown location is very hard to predict and there is a huge flotilla waiting for it. Did NASA publish the probability of a capsule hitting a ship rather ...
user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
209 views

Was it possible for J. Glenn, to open the mercury capsule Friendship VII from inside?

saw a video clip of J. Glenn entering Friendship 7. It was too cumbersome to get inside. Capsule door Was closed externally by some other people. Was it possible for J. Glenn, to open the mercury ...
user avatar
  • 3,402
3 votes
2 answers
397 views

Mercury reentry heat shields; material composition, manufacturing process and explanation of all those concentric ridges?

A collection of photos in posts by Miles Lumbard there is a page titled Mercury Retro Pack Walk Around Page 1 (spotted here in reference to the thermal zebra stripes) can be found nine images with the ...
user avatar
  • 148k
5 votes
1 answer
205 views

Did NASA have black doctors around 1960?

In the 2020 TV series "The Right Stuff" a lot of changes are made for dramatic effect. The show has a black doctor working at NASA during the Mercury programme, and he seems to be pretty ...
user avatar
  • 1,663
14 votes
1 answer
4k views

Why were seven astronauts selected when there were only six crewed Mercury flights?

Seven astronauts (the Mercury Seven) were selected to fly during the Mercury program. Yet Slayton, one of the Mercury Seven didn't fly during Mercury (though he did fly for Apollo-Soyuz). Why were ...
user avatar
  • 4,820
5 votes
1 answer
599 views

What was the point of the Redstone rocket when there was the X-15 rocketplane?

Just a curiousity question, so don't get me wrong for I very much admire and have high respect towards the entire Mercury project, Alan Shepard (the first American in space, a national hero) and Gus ...
user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
179 views

Why were the Little Joes launched from Virginia?

Little Joe was a program to test the Mercury launch escape system and heat shield. The 8 unmanned flights (2 with monkeys!) plus one pad abort were all launched from Wallops Island, Virginia. Why ...
user avatar
  • 46.6k
3 votes
1 answer
192 views

First radio contact between an Australian and a spacecraft? First voice communications?

Launched east from Cape Canaveral at about 30 degrees north latitude, the first few orbits have an opportunity to pass over Australia because it's big and roughly antipodal, especially as the Earth ...
user avatar
  • 148k
4 votes
1 answer
337 views

Why did Mercury use multiple CAPCOMs while Apollo did not?

A spacecraft needs multiple receiving stations to prevent its radio signals from being blocked by Earth. Wikipedia has a map of the ground stations used for the Mercury missions. The Right Stuff ...
user avatar
  • 535
6 votes
2 answers
518 views

Why did the manned Mercury-Redstone flights carry and use retrorockets?

The Mercury-Redstone programme, a subset of the Mercury human spaceflight programme, used a modified version of the Redstone missile for suborbital flights in space. It culminated in two manned ...
user avatar
  • 3,865
4 votes
2 answers
384 views

Why didn't Project Mercury advance to an orbital flight on their second mission?

Manned programs are noted for progressing through a series of flights. Early missions focus on basic hardware and simple tasks; as the technology becomes proven, the scope and duration of later ...
user avatar
  • 46.6k
9 votes
2 answers
366 views

Project Mercury capsule switch orientation

I noticed that the majority of the toggle switches in the Mercury capsules move in a left-to-right manner. This seems unusual to me, since Gemini, Apollo and the Shuttle all predominantly use up-down ...
user avatar
  • 4,375
16 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why did the cones of the Mercury and Gemini capsules have a neck?

As highlighted by the green double-arrow lines in the pictures below, the Mercury and Gemini capsules had a (roughly) cylindrical "neck" at the end of the capsule cone. If they had instead followed ...
user avatar
  • 46.6k
13 votes
2 answers
3k views

Did any "washouts" of the Mercury program eventually become astronauts?

The movie The Right Stuff portrays several dozen candidates for Project Mercury, who are eventually culled down to the final seven astronauts. Did any of the unsuccessful candidates for the Mercury ...
user avatar
  • 46.6k
2 votes
1 answer
1k views

Did astronaut candidates have a lung capacity test, as portrayed in the movie The Right Stuff?

One memorable scene in the movie The Right Stuff portrays a lung capacity test. The astronaut candidates blow into a tube with water and a ping-pong ball. They must blow just hard enough to keep the ...
user avatar
  • 46.6k
8 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why did Ham the Chimp push levers?

This answer explains how the experiment was set up and some of the results of the experiment. My question is why did they have Ham do anything? I understand sending a chimp prior to human flight (...
user avatar
26 votes
1 answer
3k views

Did Ham the Chimp follow commands, or did he just randomly push levers?

The first American to operate spacecraft controls (instead of being a passive passenger) was Ham the chimpanzee. He was trained to push some levers, which he did about 50 times during his flight. ...
user avatar
  • 46.6k
8 votes
1 answer
809 views

How did Shepard's and Grissom's speeds compare with orbital velocity?

As is often said here and in XKCD, an orbit isn't merely high up... it's also going fast. The first two American astronauts -- Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom -- did indeed get "high up" enough to ...
user avatar
  • 46.6k
2 votes
0 answers
80 views

Looking for veterans of the Space Race [closed]

Hi everyone. I am writing an oral history of the men and women who worked at Cape Canaveral and KSC during Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. If you know someone that fits the bill, or know how to find them, ...
user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
281 views

Help reading this Mercury era NASA "ancient" iconography

In a collectspace.com forum, I found the following (merged) thread containing images, questions and answers: http://www.collectspace.com/ubb/Forum29/HTML/000962.html The two images below are ...
user avatar
  • 148k
2 votes
1 answer
191 views

CAPCOM Console at Mercury Control Center; what does "Desired Retrofire Setting" time display mean?

Wikipedia's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station page links to the image Alan Shepard in Mercury Control Center (shown below). The console has two large digital time displays. One is dedicated GMT but ...
user avatar
  • 148k
6 votes
1 answer
1k views

What are the thrusters present on the side of the Mercury-Atlas launch vehicle?

I just watched a documentary about the Mercury program and was wondering what those "side rockets" (don't know how to call them properly) are for? Further stability or generating some extra thrust? ...
user avatar
  • 63
25 votes
1 answer
4k views

Why was the Friendship 7 Mercury heat shield detachable?

We know that just before reentry started, there was concern over a signal which indicated that the heat shield which would protect the capsule from the heat of reentry had become detached. This would ...
user avatar
26 votes
1 answer
2k views

What are some specific examples of the calculations human "computers" did for the Mercury space program?

The movie Hidden Figures tells the story of three black women who were "computers" for the Mercury space program. They performed calculations related to orbits, launches, aerodynamics, etc. What are ...
user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
3k views

What caused John Glenn to see what he described as "fireflies"?

What caused John Glenn to see what he described as "fireflies"? I've heard three different explanations. If it's true that it was pee and sweat, could you explain how and why it was collected, and ...
user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
1k views

Where to look for historical or reconstructed orbit data for early NASA missions - Mercury-Atlas 6 for example

After reading this answer to How many earth stations had astronauts on-site during John Glenn's orbit in Friendship-7? I decided that for my own use I'd like to plot the orbit of Mercury-Atlas 6, the ...
user avatar
  • 148k
7 votes
3 answers
989 views

How many earth stations had astronauts on-site during John Glenn's orbit in Friendship-7?

The Washington Post just republished it's February 21, 1962 article covering the launch, Earth orbit, and safe re-entry and recovery of (Senator) John H. Glenn, in recognition of his service and ...
user avatar
  • 148k
7 votes
1 answer
350 views

How was time kept on board early manned spaceflights?

I have not been able to find a definitive answer to this. From Mercury to Gemini to Apollo, what was the mechanism for keeping time onboard the spacecraft? Did the Engineers spend energy (and maybe ...
user avatar
18 votes
1 answer
17k views

Who really coined the phrase "Light the Candle!" to commence with a rocket launch?

This NASA's image of a Mercury-Redstone rocket Freedom 7 carrying Alan Shepard, the first American in space, is titled Light the Candle:        Light the Candle (Image ...
user avatar
  • 75.6k
9 votes
1 answer
343 views

Where can I find relevant papers describing the cryptographic algorithm(s) and/or techniques used within KY-171 and KY-172?

The KY-171 Audio Frequency Coder was used for the NASA Project Mercury (1958-1963) to encode radio traffic between ground stations, as well as between ground stations and the space capsule. It was ...
user avatar
  • 195
19 votes
2 answers
13k views

Size of Apollo era astronauts

I had read that the early astronauts were all 'short guys'. This made a lot of sense. A short man can have as much stamina and endurance as a large man, yet eat less, consume less oxygen & (...
user avatar
13 votes
1 answer
6k views

Did NASA use metric units for the Mercury missions?

Did NASA use metric or English units for Project Mercury? For example, did they measure delta-v in meters/second or in feet/second?
user avatar
  • 3,940
15 votes
5 answers
2k views

Are Mercury/Apollo/Gemini capsules visible in any museum?

Is it possible to visit some of the famous American capsules in any museum?
user avatar
16 votes
1 answer
1k views

Is there any reason why American spacesuits color changed over years?

From Mercury silver suits to orange Space Shuttle ones, color of space suits have changed over years. Is there any reason for it?
user avatar