🚨July 21, 1961 - Virgil I. Grissom became the nation's second space explorer today. The Air Force captain rocketed aboard a Mercury capsule on a flight that took him 118 miles into the sky and 303 miles out into the Atlantic. From the take-off at 8:20 a.m., until the capsule landed in the ocean 16 minutes later, the mission appeared as successful as the nearly perfect journey of the nation's first space traveler, Navy Comdr. Alan B. Shepard Jr., on May 5. Minutes later, for reasons unknown, explosive bolts blew out the side hatch of the capsule before a Marine helicopter overhead could hook on and lift the capsule upright. Water rolled into the capsule immediately, and the captain floated out. Three minutes later he was hauled to safety by a second helicopter. He had swallowed more sea water than he would have liked. He was somewhat shaky. But he was essentially in excellent condition.