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🚨Schirra Flies Six Orbits, Returns Safely

Oct. 3, 1962 - Commander Walter M. Schirra Jr. flew six orbits around the earth today, twice as far as the two Americans who had orbited before him. The 39-year-old astronaut made a bullseye landing in the Pacific Ocean within four miles of the carrier Kearsarge, stationed near the planned recovery zone. He was picked up, still in his capsule, by the Kearsarge. The impact point was about 330 miles northeast of Midway Island. Commander Schirra had traveled 160,000 miles in 9 hours 14 minutes in a flight that produced virtually no troubles or anxious moments. The success of the Schirra flight likely means the next Mercury flight will be a 17-orbit one-day mission. A NASA official said after the flight the one-day mission would be conducted early in 1963. Commander Schirra was launched in his Sigma 7 Mercury capsule at 8:15 a.m., Eastern daylight time. His Air Force Atlas booster lofted him into an orbit that ranged between a high point of 176 miles and a low point of 100 miles. His top speed was 17,560 miles an hour. The time for a single circuit of the earth was 88.5 minutes. The launch was witnessed on television by millions in North America. About 40 minutes later, Telstar carried a taped T.V. broadcast to millions both in Western Europe and in the Soviet bloc countries forming the Communist Intervision network.


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