When the original seven astronauts, known as the Mercury astronauts, were assigned to NASA on April 9, 1959 there was only one objective in each of their minds: to climb aboard a spacecraft atop a rocket and become the first person to be launched into space. They were part of Project Mercury, the NASA program designed to overtake the Soviet space program and put the first man in orbit around the Earth.

At that time any suggestion of their performing science experiments while flying in space would have seemed about as remote as their performing major surgery. After all, these were the most accomplished of test pilots who lived for the excitement and competition associated with proving that new, record-breaking exploits could be accomplished, even at the risk of their lives.

They were mainly interested in flying into space. True, they all had college backgrounds that included science and engineering that provided the foundation of knowledge necessary for understanding the technical basis of the new machines that they flew as test pilots. But to them the extent of the science considered necessary was whatever they really needed as test pilots. Furthermore, the overriding motivation of NASA in bringing these people on board had nothing to do with science. It was primarily to select the best candidates for surpassing the Soviet Union in all aspects of manned spaceflight, from the first man in space to manned orbital flights to whatever else was possible.

The match of objectives, attitudes, and backgrounds between the astronauts and NASA was ideal. The possibility that astronauts might spend thousands of hours training to be scientists or that astronauts might be selected on the basis of their scientific accomplishments was not even considered at this time. This historical volume traces the
development of astronaut training in the early years of manned space efforts.

Read the whole story. Download William Phinney’s Apollo Astronaut Training Volume today!

Posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff
Source: LPI/ SSERVI Team

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