Seven military test pilots were recruited by NASA to be the nation’s first astronauts. Americans were captivated by the “Mercury Seven”—the silver-suited, techno-speaking astronauts who blasted off into space with impossible coolness, pursuing one of the deepest and most ancient dreams of mankind. Their achievements made it possible for the United States to advance to the Gemini and Apollo projects. Their great public appeal helped to sustain support of the space program in its early years.
This photograph was taken at B.F. Goodrich, the company that manufactured the space suits. It was the only occasion that all seven appeared together in the suits.
Front row, left to right: Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Donald K. “Deke” Slayton, John H. Glenn, Jr., and M. Scott Carpenter Back row: Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, and L. Gordon Cooper, Jr.
Courtesy NASA [84PC-0022, GPN-2000-000651]