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Project Mercury: Choosing the Men & Their Machine

9 Apr 2019, 13:10 UTC
Project Mercury: Choosing the Men & Their Machine
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

As NASA started its first full calendar year of existence on January 1, 1959, groups of engineers and managers were busy starting up the various programs the newborn space agency was assigned. Perhaps the busiest of these groups was the Space Task Group (STG) under the direction of Robert R. Gilruth. Based at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, STG was charged with developing the country’s first manned spacecraft for Project Mercury (see “The Origins of NASA Mercury Program”). The project’s goal was to send a man into orbit using a modified version of the USAF Atlas D ICBM and safely return him to Earth. While Project Mercury would build on years of research conducted by the USAF, various aerospace contractors, as well as NASA’s predecessor, the NACA (National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics), there was still an incredible amount of work to be done before the first flight. The fact that the Soviet Union was also likely developing a manned spacecraft in secret only added to the sense of urgency that pervaded NASA.
NASA’s Space Task Group management team included (l to r) Charles J. Donlan (Associate Director), Robert R. Gilruth (Director), Maxime A, Faget (Flight Systems Chief) and Robert ...

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