Recent statements by American and Russian scientists attending Committee for Space Research symposium in Florence, Italy, indicate that a manned space flight is imminent from either country.
Recent statements by American and Russian scientists attending Committee for Space Research symposium in Florence, Italy, indicate that a manned space flight is imminent from either country. Dr Homer Newell, head of the space-science division of the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said that one repeat test of the complete "Project Mercury" space vehicle is all that remains before the first American astronaut is launched on his 10-minute trip into space and back.
At Cape Canaveral, Florida, recently, an 83-feet high "Redstone" missile was successfully launched over the course carrying a facsimile 'man in space' capsule. At an altitude of 115-miles, the capsule was ejected and fished out of the Atlantic Ocean 290-miles from the launching pad.
This latest test was held to correct faults that developed in the "Redstone" rocket that carried "Ham" the chimpansee to an unscheduled height of 155-miles on Jan 31. Then, the rocket kept accelerating after it reached its scheduled speed of 4,000 m.p.h., and "Ham" was carried forty miles higher and recovered 130-miles beyond the predicted spot in the Ocean. However, he was recovered in good condition, and American space scientists proceeded to the next phase of the programme.
Since its inception 27 months ago, the American "Project Mercury" man-in-space programme has faced many set-backs. Various types of rockets were tested. Some were successful, others not so. On May 28, 1959., two female monkeys - "Able" and "Baker" - were recovered from the Atlantic after a successful launching to an altitude of 300-miles aboard an Army "Jupiter" missile. Their success prompted scientists to begin a search for the man who would become America's first astronaut.
From 500 military test pilots on active duty they selected 110. Of these 56 men eventually went to Washington for briefings on the mission and volunteered. Intelligence tests, medical checks, and personal interviews eliminated all but seven, who began an intensive course of training lasting two years.
At the end of February this year, three of the trainees were selected for final training at Cape Canaveral. They were John Glenn, 39, a Marine Lieutenant-Colonel who flew in world war two and Korea; Alan Shepard, 37, a Navy Commander; and Virgin Grissom, 34, an Air Force Captain.
At least three days before the first launching, one of the astronauts will be designated to the Primary and mother to the Alternate. both will go on low roughage diets for 72-hours before the flight, and will sleep in Hangar S in N.A.S.A's medical preparation area where "Ham" was got ready for his flight. Finally, there will be one. The Primary will be dressed in his aluminiumised nylon space suit, then, with recording instruments and thermocouples attached to his skin, he will be transported to the launching pad three miles away.
With just 150 minutes to go, the Primary will ride the lift to the 65-feet level. More than an hour will be necessary to get him into his contour couch, hook up all recording wires, and secure the hatch. As the site is cleared, the gantry is taken away and the count-down begins. The dawn of the new age will have come.