Saturday, September 22, 2012

50 Years Ago: The "New Nine"

Astronaut Group 2, "The New Nine"

Fifty years ago on September 17, 1962, the Director of NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center, Bob Gilruth, announced to the press the names of NASA's second group of soon-to-be astronauts. Like the original Mercury Seven astronauts, all were former test pilots and these were chosen from a field of 253  applicants. These astronauts would train for upcoming missions in the Gemini and Apollo space programs. Shown in the picture above were (back row L-R) Elliot See, Jim McDivitt, Jim Lovell, Ed White, (front row L-R) Pete Conrad, Frank Borman, Neil Armstrong, and John Young.

On the same day, NASA announced that Mercury Astronaut Deke Slayton (prohibited from flight due to heart condition) would be promoted to "Coordinator of Astronaut Activities" responsible for assignment of training and engineering duties of all astronauts. He would help play a role in the determining of space flight assignments, and therefore, who would walk on the Moon.

Sadly, Neil Armstrong passed away just weeks ago, short of this 50th anniversary of his being selected as an astronaut. By the time this picture was taken though, he had already had a fantastic career as a Navy test pilot and had worked for NASA as a pilot in the X-15 rocket plane program.

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