Selecting the Mercury Seven: The Search for America's First Astronauts

Overview

The names of the seven Mercury astronauts were announced in April 1959 amid a flurry of publicity and patriotism. This work provides biographical details of all thirty-two finalists for the seven coveted places as America's pioneering astronauts. All of the candidates were among the nation's elite pilots involved in testing new supersonic aircraft capabilities. Most had served as wartime fighter and bomber pilots; some were test pilots on top secret and sophisticated aviation projects, while others were fleet ...

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Overview

The names of the seven Mercury astronauts were announced in April 1959 amid a flurry of publicity and patriotism. This work provides biographical details of all thirty-two finalists for the seven coveted places as America's pioneering astronauts. All of the candidates were among the nation's elite pilots involved in testing new supersonic aircraft capabilities. Most had served as wartime fighter and bomber pilots; some were test pilots on top secret and sophisticated aviation projects, while others were fleet admirals, prisoners of war, and proposed pilots for spaceflight programs such as the Dyna-Soar (X-20). The names of all 32 finalists have been kept secret until very recently. "Selecting the Mercury Seven" also relates the history and difficulties behind the initial choice of candidates. The lives, motivations, military careers, and achievements of the unsuccessful twenty-five finalists are explored first in fully authorized biographies. Test pilots for the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, each man has a fascinating and very different story to tell. All thirty-two men had to endure meticulous, demeaning, and brutal week-long medical examinations at the Lovelace Clinic in New Mexico. This was followed by another torturous week at the Wright Aeromedical Laboratory in Ohio, where they were subjected to extreme fitness and physiological testing, the sole purpose of which was to sort out the Supermen from the near-supermen. The final part of the book examines the accomplishments and spaceflights of the seven successful candidates, bringing their amazing stories right up to date.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
From the reviews:
“The author chronicles the testing/selection process of the candidates and includes brief biographies of the finalists. … The book presents more extensive biographies of the entire careers of the Mercury Seven astronauts along with photographs of historical importance. Summing Up: Recommended. Undergraduate students and general readers.” (J. Z. Kiss, Choice, Vol. 49 (6), February, 2012)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441984043
  • Publisher: Springer New York
  • Publication date: 8/17/2011
  • Series: Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration Series , #2
  • Edition description: 2011
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 857,230
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Colin Burgess' first book ("The Diggers of Colditz") was published in 1985. Since that time he has had twenty-three non-fiction books published in Australia and overseas, which includes three co-authored books for Springer-Praxis. With only a few exceptions, all of his published books within the last fifteen years have been on spaceflight. Since 2003 Colin has been the series editor and sometimes author for the Outward Odyssey series of twelve books for the University of Nebraska Press (UNP). Two of his co-authored spaceflight books for this publisher, "Into That Silent Sea" and "In the Shadow of the Moon," were finalists for the 2007 Eugene M. Emme Award for Astronautical Literature, given by the American Astronomical Society. "In the Shadow of the Moon" was also named as "2009 Outstanding Academic Title" by Choice Magazine.

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Table of Contents

Foreword.- Author's Preface.- About the author.- Acknowledgements.- Illustrations.- Chapter 1: Sailing in and out of war.- Chapter 2: The call goes out.- Chapter 3: Narrowing the field.- Chapter 4: The finalists.- Chapter 5: Tennessee patriot, pilot, and poet.- Chapter 6: Lovelace Clinic, New Mexico.- Chapter 7: Wright-Patterson: the final hurdle.- Chapter 8: Announcing the Mercury astronauts.- Chapter 9: Back in contention.- Chapter 10: Mercury Seven.- Appendices.- Bibliography.- Index.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2011

    Highly Recommend for Anyone Interested in Aviation and Space History

    Fascinating look at the back story behind the genesis of America's space program. The individual stories about the men considered for the program really bring the book to life and add to our understanding of the character of the men who were willing--eager really--to propel themselves into the unknown. Well written, well researched, well worth your time.

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