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Major Cooper Named for Next Mercury Flight

Nov. 13, 1962 - Maj. Gordon Cooper, the only eligible Mercury astronaut who has not yet been rocketed into space, has been named for the next Mercury flight. The flight, probably the last of the series, is scheduled for April, NASA said in its announcement today. The plans are for the 35-year-old Air Force pilot to circle the earth for one full day, making about 18 orbits. That would be three times the duration of the longest U.S. flight to date — the six-orbit trip made on Oct. 3 by Comdr. Walter Mr. Schirra Jr. But it would be a good deal shorter than the four-day and three-day trips made by Soviet astronauts in Vostok capsules launched Aug. 11 and 12. The back-up pilot for Major Cooper will be Comdr. Alan B. Shepard, who made the first manned Mercury flight on May 5, 1961. Major Cooper is a native of Shawnee, Okla., and the youngest of the seven original astronauts. In public, the astronaut is more shy than some of his colleagues. But he is full of confidence on the job. He has flown 2,600 hours, 1,600 in jets. His wife, the former Trudy Olson of Seattle, also is a pilot.


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