Today marks the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s first orbital flight. Glenn was joined in a ceremony commemorating the event by Scott Carpenter.
Glenn and fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter, 86, spent nearly an hour before the ceremony being photographed with the retirees, posing for individual pictures in front of a black curtain with a model of a Mercury-Atlas rocket. Glenn and Carpenter are the lone survivors of NASA’s original Mercury 7 astronauts.
Here is a photo of the introduction of the Mercury 7 astronauts:
This was back in a time when America did things like introduce its astronauts to the its proud citizens and the world. It was a time when people looked to America for thought leadership. Now of course we don’t have time for such things. The news is filled instead with whatever story has been trumped up as part of political gamesmanship and maneuvering. I think the flavor of the week is contraception but I honestly can’t be bothered to pay attention to such trivialities.
The history of the Mercury 7 program has always meant something to me personally. Every year the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation honors five undergraduates and five graduate students with scholarships. Back in my undergrad days it was known as the Mercury 7 Scholarship Foundation and in my senior year I was one of those lucky enough to be so honored.
I remember getting the award and being somewhat in awe that I was in some small way part of the legacy of spirit of adventure of those brave men. The path they blazed in space they continued through education.
American doesn’t have astronauts anymore of course. Or at least the ones that are still around have to beg rides on Russian rockets. Maybe if we are nice and continue to look the other way on human right atrocities and catastrophic pollution China will show us pity and let us piggy back on their future vehicles. A sad state of affairs on what should be a day of celebration.