For centuries man had dreamed of exploring the universe. Finally an expanding rocket technology brought with it a reasonable expectation of achieving this dream, and man was quick to accept the challenge. Project Mercury was an organized expression of man's willingness to face the risks involved in exploring the new frontier of space, and of his confidence in our Nation’s ability to support him technically and professionally in this exciting adventure. Project Mercury is now ...
For centuries man had dreamed of exploring the universe. Finally an expanding rocket technology brought with it a reasonable expectation of achieving this dream, and man was quick to accept the challenge. Project Mercury was an organized expression of man's willingness to face the risks involved in exploring the new frontier of space, and of his confidence in our Nation’s ability to support him technically and professionally in this exciting adventure.
Project Mercury is now legend. The story of its many activities is an important chapter in the history of our times. Its spotless record of successes is a tribute to all those who made up the Mercury team.
Not the least of the groups composing the Mercury team was that charged with responsibility for the health of the astronauts. This select biomedical group discharged with near perfection a variety of tasks involved in choosing and training our Nation’s first space voyagers, monitoring their medical status during each flight, and finally assessing their condition after the flight.
In this volume the author sets forth a chronological account of a unique medical support program. Flavored with personal glimpses of the individuals making up this global medical organization, the chronicle portrays the manner in which scientists and technicians drawn from the three military medical services, from other agencies of the Federal Government, and from the civilian community at large were welded into a smoothly functioning team. Led by a small group of NASA physicians, the members of this team performed their tasks in a way that makes difficult to believe that they were drawn from such widely divergent sources. Cast aside were all personal considerations and the parochialism so often found in members of traditionally competitive groups, particularly competitive professional groups.
Indeed, their performance and singleness of purpose, their dedication and professional excellence, should give pause to those who sponsor ideologies other than the ones which form the basis for our democratic way of life. Only in a society of free men could one hope to find such an example of people banding together voluntarily to support a national goal.
Project Mercury was the first American laboratory in which man was able to test his physiological capabilities to withstand the hostile forces of the extraterrestrial environment for longer than a few seconds. Weightlessness, severe g-forces, combined stresses, radiation, potential disorientations, and toxic hazards in spacecraft were among the problems about which earthbound research had been able to supply only limited information. Indeed, from the viewpoint of environmental medicine as an applied science, Project Mercury marked the swift transition from what had come to be known as aviation medicine to what is now recognized as space medicine.
The present document is an attempt to record the way in which the medical community in particular, and the life scientists in general, provided clinical support for Project Mercury and, as a corollary, contributed toward the evolution of the long-range manned space-flight program. It is primarily a study in management, for only through the careful planning and management of the Nation's resource—together with dedicated effort—could Project Mercury have been accomplished in such a short time. It is a record of which the Nation can be proud, for the first U.S. manned space flights were successful against great odd—odds such as any pioneering effort must always overcome.
168 pages. Illustrations & photos. Hyperlinked contents for easy navigation.