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NASA Chooses Walter Schirra for Six-Orbit Journey in September

June 27, 1962 - NASA announced today that the next man-in-space flight would be a six-orbit journey with Comdr. Walter M. Schirra Jr. (pictured) as pilot. The nine-hour flight is scheduled for September. Unlike the two earlier, three-orbit flights, the September flight will end in the Pacific rather than the Atlantic. The landing area will be near Midway Island, some 1,150 miles northwest of Hawaii. NASA officials explained that Project Mercury leaders wanted the longer mission to obtain “additional flight experience as a bridge to a one-day flight.” This 24-hour, 18-orbit mission is scheduled for late this year or early in 1963. The extended flight was of particular interest to medical researchers for, with six orbits, Commander Schirra will be reaching the point at which the Soviet astronaut, Maj. Gherman S. Titov, began to suffer the sensations of seasickness on his 17-orbit flight last August. The Titov reaction raised the key question of man’s ability to operate under prolonged periods of weightlessness, such as would be involved in a trip to the moon. Commander Schirra is a 39-year-old Annapolis graduate and was a combat pilot in the Korean War. He served as back-up pilot for Commander Carpenter. Capt. LeRoy Gordon Cooper of the Air Force will serve as the back-up for Commander Schirra.


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