Tuesday, May 8, 2012

50 YA: Launch Delays Again

Mercury-Atlas on the pad with Gantry in place.

It's a familiar story for us now, but it was just becoming familiar to Americans intently watching the television broadcasts of NASA's launch attempts fifty years ago. On May 7, 1962, NASA had the courtesy to tell the public of an up-coming delay to the launch of MA-7. Originally planned for May 15, NASA announced that engineers were having check-out problems with the Atlas booster, and so the blast off would occur several days later.

M. Scott Carpenter, astronaut.

By then, astronaut Scott Carpenter was used to NASA delays, and was probably thankful that the engineers were being extra cautious with his ride into space. In the last flight, he and other NASA personnel were greatly relieved when John Glenn's capsule made it back safely to Earth after a suspected failure of the heat shield. Of course, that problem turned out to be a false signal, but during the flight no one was sure and tense moments passed before Glenn's Friendship 7 capsule safely landed in the ocean for recovery. No one wanted any failures for Carpenter's flight.

Carpenter in Mercury simulator.

During the delay, Carpenter made good use of the extra time. The Mercury astronauts endured extensive and exhausting testing and training, so it was back to the simulators to keep training for the upcoming flight. 

Carpenter climbs aboard F-106B for flight experience.

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