Thursday, May 03, 2007

Original Astronaut Wally Schirra Dies at 84


"Schirra's first space flight came on October 3, 1962, as pilot of Mercury-Atlas 8. His spacecraft, which he named Sigma 7, made six orbits of the Earth in 9 hours and 13 minutes, proving that a pilot could carefully manage the limited quantities of electricity and maneuvering fuel that longer, more complex flights would require.

Schirra chose the name Sigma because it symbolized engineering precision, and a precisely engineered flight was the result, ending with a splashdown just five miles from the carrier Kearsage in the Pacific Ocean. True to his Navy background, Schirra elected to remain aboard the spacecraft until it was lifted to the deck of the carrier."

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