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Nine New Astronauts Introduced in Houston

Sept. 17, 1962 - Nine new astronauts, candidates for the lunar space flight, made their debuts in Houston today. Two civilians were among the group, which also includes four Air Force officers and three Navy officers. They will be assigned, along with the seven astronauts of the pioneer Project Mercury, to train for Project Gemini, which calls for a space rendezvous by two manned capsules early in 1964, and for Project Apollo, the landing on the moon scheduled for late this decade. The nine new astronauts were presented at a news conference at the University of Houston. Dr. Robert R. Gilruth, director of the Manned Space Flight Center in Houston, said their first assignment would be to act as observers for the planned six-orbital flight of Navy Comdr. Walter M. Schirra Jr. from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The average age of the new astronauts, 32.5 years, is 2 years below that of the original Mercury team at the time of its selection in 1959. Younger men were sought because Projects Gemini and Apollo, unlike Mercury, will extend over several years. The Mercury team will probably be too old to qualify for the moon flight. The civilians on the new team are Elliot M. See Jr. and Neil A. Armstrong. The Air Force men are Maj. Frank Borman, Capt. James A. McDivitt, Capt. Thomas P. Stafford, and Capt. Edward H. White. The Navy officers are Lieut. Comdr. James A. Lovell, Lieut. Comdr. John W. Young, and Lieut. Charles Conrad Jr. There were some women among the applicants, Dr. Gilruth said, but none qualified.


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