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This volume in the Pioneers in Early Spaceflight mini-series continues and concludes the flight history of the pioneering Mercury-Redstone program and relates the full story of the flight of the Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft and NASA astronaut Capt. Virgil ("Gus") Grissom in July 1961.
Only the second manned flight in NASA history, on the heels of the flight of Alan Shepard aboard the Freedom 7 spacecraft two months earlier, this is a rich and previously neglected piece of space exploration history. Burgess draws on first-person interviews with a vast number of people associated with every phase of the flight of Liberty Bell 7 to fully explore the lead-up to this second and final suborbital manned space mission.
Particular scrutiny is given to the near-loss of the astronaut Grissom after his hatch blew prematurely, with observations on this almost fatal incident provided by those who can provide their thoughts about how this came to pass, including Marine helicopter pilot Jim Lewis, who tried to rescue the now-unoccupied spacecraft from the Atlantic but eventually had to release it into the water.
The final chapter in this amazing story is the retrieval 38 years later of the sunken spacecraft by an indomitable team of adventurers who managed to locate the craft on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
Here at last is a book which focuses on the legacy of Liberty Bell 7 at the time before the mounting pressure of Soviet space achievements shifted NASA's priorities to orbital missions.
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