Seven face the press

NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan introduced his astronauts to the assembled media a week later. They were Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Walter Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Donald K. "Deke" Slayton.

From the start, NASA was careful to court the press and public with carefully arranged photo opportunities and announcements designed to keep interest high. The seven were photographed in their futuristic silver spacesuits, on survival exercises in the desert, and inspecting prototypes under construction at the McDonnell factory. While most of the candidates were taciturn military men, Glenn stood out in the media as the most charismatic and self-deprecating of the group. However, competition among the seven was intense - when asked at that mnm

CHRIS KRAFT

Virginia-born Chris Kraft (b.1924) was an aeronautical engineer at NACA before its absorption into NASA. In 1958 he was put in charge of developing flight-control systems for Project Mercury. Early satellite launches could be controlled from the blockhouses at Cape Canaveral, but longer-duration manned flights would require constant monitoring from Earth by a large team working at a dedicated Mission Control. Kraft developed technology and procedures used for NASA flight control to this day and became NASA's first Flight Director during Project Mercury. He stepped back from this role in the 1960s but remained in overall charge of flight control.

HIGH FLIERS, TOP GUNS

The Mercury Seven assemble for a portrait in front of a Convair F-106 B, one of several high-performance aircraft purchased by NASA for use by the astronauts in maintaining their finely honed flying skills.

July 1960

The seven undergo survival training in the Nevada Desert.

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ROCKET PLANE

While the Mercury Seven were still in training, the hypersonic X-15 rocket plane was setting a series ol aviation records. Several of its pilots would earn USAF astronaut wings, and there was a friendly rivalry between test pilots and astronauts.

first press conference who believed they should be the first into space, each raised his hand, except for Glenn and Schirra, who raised both.

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