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NASA: Gordon or Shepard to Make Next Orbital Flight

Oct. 7, 1962 - A NASA official said today that the astronaut for the 18-orbit, one-day Mercury flight in early 1963 could be either Comdr. Alan B. Shepard or Maj. L. Gordon Cooper (pictured). The aide, who declined to be identified, said the officials were leaning toward Comdr. Shepard. If picked, the 38-year-old Navy test pilot would be the first American to make a second rocket journey. None of the Soviet spacemen has made two flights to date. Commander Shepard flew this nation’s first manned space mission on May 5, 1961. He was boosted by a Redstone rocket on a sub-orbital 300-mile journey down the Caribbean. Major Cooper, who at 35 is the youngest of the 7 original astronauts, was the back-up pilot for the six-orbit mission flown Wednesday by Comdr. Walter M. Schirra. He is the only astronaut still eligible for spaceflight who has not flown. Maj. Donald K. Slayton was grounded early this year because of a heart defect.

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