We would like to wish Virgil I “Gus” Grissom a happy birthday on what would be his 97th birthday! Grissom made his debut as part of the Mercury Seven – the Nation’s first Astronauts – on April 9, 1959. The first American to fly in space twice, Grissom first went into space aboard Liberty Bell 7. His second flight was as commander for the first manned spaceflight of the Gemini program. When he was made commander of the first crewed mission of the Apollo program, Grissom became the first astronaut assigned to all three manned space programs – Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.
Apollo 1 was set to launch on February 21, 1967, but would never fly. During a manned launch rehearsal test on January 27, a fire swept through the cabin, killing all three astronauts on board, Command Pilot Virgil I “Gus” Grissom, Senior Pilot Ed White and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee. Weeks before his death, Grissom addressed the risk that accompanies space exploration saying, “If we die we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us, it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life. Our God-given curiosity will force us to go there ourselves because in the final analysis, only man can fully evaluate the Moon in terms understandable to other men.”
To learn more about Gus Grissom’s Liberty Bell 7, visit the Cosmosphere’s virtual resource website here.