DescriptionMercury Seven Astronauts and Early Gemini Team Members: Signed Naval Air Development Center ID Card Stubs, etc. Part of the Project Mercury training for America's first astronauts took place at the gigantic centrifuge at the NADC in Johnsville, Pennsylvania. Soon after the last Mercury mission took place, five of the astronauts (and numerous engineers, doctors, scientists, etc.) headed back to the NADC to begin evaluating the Gemini equipment newly installed there. A member of the security department saved the filled out and signed stubs where the astronauts and technical team registered for their identification cards. Following are the five separate July 1963-dated 5" x 3" pink cards (each laminated to 5.25" x 3.25"). All are in excellent condition. Each astronaut has filled in his name and address in block letters and then signed in cursive, all in blue ink, as follows:
(1) "John H Glenn Jr" signed. "J. H. Glenn/ NASA/ Houston, Tex." filled in by hand.
(2) "Virgil I Grissom" signed. "Virgil I. Grissom/ MSC NASA/ Houston Tex" filled in by hand.
(3) "W M Schirra Jr" signed. "CDR Walter M. Schirra Jr/ NASA MSC/ Houston + Texas" filled in by hand.
(4) "Alan B. Shepard Jr" signed. "Shepard AB/ NASA/ Houston Texas" filled in by hand.
(5) "D K Slayton" signed. "Maj D. K. Slayton/ NASA/ Houston, Texas" filled in by hand.
This same gentleman managed to get the autographs of the other two Mercury astronauts (as well as a duplicate Alan Shepard) on other NADC forms. This completes the set.
(6) "Scott Carpenter" signed on a 3.25" x 2.25" sheet (partial back of a Truck Pass form), laminated to 4" x 3".
(7) "Gordon Cooper" and "Alan B Shepard Jr" signed (both) on back of 5.25" x 4" Truck Pass form, laminated.
The following are also separate 5" x 3" pink ID card stubs filled out with addresses (Houston or Cape Canaveral) and signed by sixteen members of the team working on this Gemini training program. All have check-in dates of May-July 1963. Many obscure and rare autographs here.
(8) "W Carter Alexander" Studied spaceflight's physical effect on the human body
(9) "Louis D. Allen" Flight crew operations specialist (spindle hole punched through signature)
(10) "Cletis R. Booher" Studied deleterious effects of spaceflight on the human body
(11) "Frank S. Coe III" Project engineer
(12) "Ralph E. Drexel" Centrifuge training project officer
(13) "Paul O. Ferguson" Technical services specialist
(14) "Thomas W. Frazier" Psychophysiologist
(15) "Robert Grafe" Crew systems specialist
(16) "Rodney F. Higgins" Engineer, member of Space Task Group
(17) "R M Machell" Spacecraft management specialist
(18) "Barney B. Roberts III" Life support systems specialist
(19) "Alan M. Rochford" Spacesuit technician
(20) "J. B. Thomas" Engineer
(21) "Thomas B Watt Jr" Cardiologist, specialist in aerospace medicine
(22) "Donald F. Wilfert" (laminated) Engineer
(23) "John P. Wise" (laminated) Electronics technician
What an amazing collection! The NADC in-house paper reported on this training session in their August 3, 1963 issue. It reads in part: "Helping to evaluate the Gemini equipment were five of the original astronauts: Scott Carpenter, John Glenn, Virgil Grissom, Alan Shepard and Donald Slayton... In the training program - Phase II all 16 astronauts (the original seven and the nine Project Gemini astronauts) are undergoing training as command astronauts for the two-man Gemini flights. The centrifuge runs for each astronaut include a normal launch and reentry simulation. Various launch aborts and reentries are then simulated. The pilot manually controls all reentries." A full transcription of the article is available on our website. The signed ID card stubs for all nine of the NASA Group Two astronauts are available in a later lot in this auction.
Astronauts Use Centrifuge For Gemini Training (Johnsville Reflector, August 3, 1963)
The end of Project Mercury in no way ended NADC's involvement in the U.S.'s manned space program. The Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory and the Aeronautical Computer Laboratory here are already deeply involved in the second major phase of the space program: Project Gemini. AMAL's human centrifuge is again being used to train astronauts and evaluate equipment. Phase I of the Gemini Centrifuge Program ended recently, and Phase II got off to a fast start.
The objectives of Phase I were to conduct an engineering evaluation of the manual controls and flight displays; to become familiar with the normal launch and re-entry phases of the Gemini mission; to evaluate selected abort profiles; and to test the Gemini pressure suit.
Helping to evaluate the Gemini equipment were five of the original astronauts: Scott Carpenter, John Glenn, Virgil Grissom, Alan Shepard and Donald Slayton. There were some new faces in the centrifuge, too - the Project Gemini astronauts.
The project director is AMAL's Dr. Randall Chambers. Frank Coe of NASA is the project engineer. For the centrifuge runs the gondola was fitted with a trainer built by McDonnell Aircraft Company. The trainer consists basically of the crew station for the command astronaut in the two-man Gemini spacecraft. This crew station includes spacecraft controls and display panels. Thus, the equipment in the Gondola simulates that which the astronauts will have in the Gemini capsule.
ACL's analog-digital computer provides time variant functions for operation of the centrifuge and the cockpit controls and displays. The various parameters were programmed to provide as much realism as possible.
In the training program - Phase II all 16 astronauts (the original seven and the nine Project Gemini astronauts) are undergoing training as command astronauts for the two-man Gemini flights. The centrifuge runs for each astronaut include a normal launch and reentry simulation. Various launch aborts and reentries are then simulated. The pilot manually controls all reentries.
Among the new astronauts taking their first rides on the centrifuge was Navy Lieutenant Charles Conrad Jr., the only astronaut from the Philadelphia area. Unfortunately, Conrad said, his tight work schedule did not permit him sufficient time during his Johnsville trip to visit his mother, who resides in nearby Haverford. "Perhaps I'll have this opportunity when I return to Johnsville in the near future for additional training on the centrifuge," Conrad stated. In fact, all the astronauts will be back at the AMAL centrifuge before next year's two-man orbits get underway. NADC will continue to be an integral part of the nation's space program.
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