09-04-1959 - On this day, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) introduces America’s first astronauts to the press: Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper Jr., John H. Glenn Jr., Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Walter Schirra Jr., Alan Shepard Jr., and Donald Slayton. The seven men, all military test pilots, were carefully selected from a group of 32 candidates to take part in Project Mercury, America’s first manned space program. NASA planned to begin manned orbital flights in 1961.
Malcolm Scott Carpenter (born May 1, 1925) was an American test pilot, astronaut and aquanaut. He is best known as one of the original seven astronauts selected for NASA's Project Mercury in April 1959. Carpenter was the second American to orbit the Earth and the fourth American in space, following Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom and John Glenn. Glenn is the last living member of the Mercury Seven.
Virgil Ivan Grissom. One of the original NASA Project Mercury astronauts and a United States Air Force pilot. He was the second American to fly in space, and the first member of the NASA Astronaut Corps to fly in space twice. Grissom was killed during a pre-launch test for the Apollo 1 mission at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (then known as Cape Kennedy), Florida. He was the first of the Mercury Seven to die.