Monday, October 04, 2004

 

RIP Gordo

It's kind of sad to bookend the story of the X Prize being won today with this, but original Mercury 7 astronaut Gordon Cooper has passed away. If you remember "The Right Stuff", Gordo was one of the great mavericks and individualists (there's a story about him buzzing the office of a major NASA honcho at window level) and as cool as a cucumber (that story about him falling asleep during the countdown for his flight was indeed true). The damndest shame is that Gordo never got to the moon. Funny enough how NASA's politics worked back then; John Glenn was grounded in case of a "regrettable indisposition", after all it wouldn't do if a hero went kablooey. Scott Carpenter goofed up his reentry, and got blackballed. Of course, both Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton were grounded for medical reasons. Apollo was left to the real hard core engineering types of the original Seven, Gus Grissom and Wally Schirra. Gus unfortunately died in the Apollo One fire in 1967, and Wally only got to do the orbital checkout ride on Apollo 7.

Fly on, Gordo....

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