Alan Ralph

Wearer Of Many Hats

The Real Right Stuff

Pipe down, Jeff. You’ve only gone where Gus Grissom went before, 60 years ago today

Somewhat lost in the hubbub over Jeff Bezos’ jaunt into space is the 60th anniversary of Virgil “Gus” Grissom’s suborbital flight aboard Liberty Bell 7.

The mission was the second Mercury capsule crewed by a human and followed Alan Shepard’s flight on 5 May 1961. Both missions were suborbital vertical launches atop a Mercury-Redstone booster (derived from the Redstone ballistic missile).

Grissom’s compact Mercury capsule, Spacecraft Number 11, had a few updates over that of Shepard’s. Instead of the 10-inch side ports Shepard peered through, Grissom’s capsule had a large window affording a 30° horizontal and a 33° vertical field of view. There were better controls and, infamously, a redesigned hatch.

Fascinating story, which I’d not known about before today.