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  October 3, 1962: Remembering Sigma 7

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Author Topic:   October 3, 1962: Remembering Sigma 7

Posts: 1490
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 10-03-2009 07:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oct. 3, 2009 marks the 47th anniversary of the flight of Wally Schirra aboard the Mercury capsule Sigma 7.

Wally was launched into a 283.2 by 160.9 kilometer initial orbit on a mission that lasted for nine hours, 13 minutes, 11 seconds and six orbits.

It was an almost perfect flight, the only major problem being one of an overheating spacesuit due to a clogged valve. This was brought under control early in the flight.

As a preparation for the extended flight of the next Mercury mission, long periods of drifting were mixed in with spells of what Schirra called "flying in chimp mode", that is under automatic control. Re-entry and recovery were entirely automatic for the first time in the US manned orbital programme with Schirra doing little except monitor the RSCS.

Sigma 7 landed some 6.5 kilometers from the recovery ship Kearsarge, and Schirra remained in the capsule during the recovery operations. This was the first Mercury mission to be recovered in the Pacific Ocean.

Rob Joyner

Posts: 1292
From: GA, USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 10-03-2009 01:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Joyner   Click Here to Email Rob Joyner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sigma 7 launched exactly 7 days before my first birthday. 39 years and 37 days later Wally became the first astronaut I ever met. I'll remember that handshake forever.

Happy Anniversary Wally!

(And am I? YBYSAIA!)

413 is in

Posts: 397
From: Alexandria, VA USA
Registered: May 2006

posted 10-03-2009 02:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 413 is in   Click Here to Email 413 is in     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And a picture perfect flight it was!


Posts: 935
From: Carrollton, GA USA
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 10-03-2009 09:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gilbert   Click Here to Email Gilbert     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember the day and Wally's flight well.


Posts: 589
From: Ridgecrest, CA USA
Registered: Sep 2000

posted 10-03-2009 10:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for OV-105   Click Here to Email OV-105     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I got to meet Wally at the China Lake 50th Annversary dinner. He was a great speaker. I got my Schirra's Space book autographed. Everyone had The Right Stuff, when he saw that I had his book he said "So your the one who bought my it!"

Joel Katzowitz

Posts: 326
From: Marietta GA USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 10-04-2009 07:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joel Katzowitz   Click Here to Email Joel Katzowitz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a one dollar Silver Certificate that was flown on Wally's MA-8 mission. After the flight, the bill was gifted to Bill Dana as a birthday present. His birthday is tomorrow, October 5. I subsequently acquired the bill at auction and have had several email exchanges with Mr. Dana concerning the artifact. It is one of my most prized possessions.


Posts: 933
From: South Bend, IN United States of America
Registered: Apr 2002

posted 10-06-2009 07:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My LAST Mercury astronaut to meet, my fifth of the original seven. Like was already observed, a handshake you will remember forever!

Always time to remember October 3!

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-02-2012 10:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA has debuted an interactive feature for the 50th anniversary of Sigma 7.
50 years ago, Wally Schirra became the fifth American in space, making the third orbital flight of the Mercury program.

Schirra piloted his Sigma 7 capsule on a six-orbit mission that lasted more than nine hours on Oct. 3, 1962.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-03-2012 07:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
'Sigma 7' at 50: Retro Space Images recall 5th US manned spaceflight

Fifty years ago, the United States launched its fifth astronaut into space.

Walter M. "Wally" Schirra, Jr. rode his one-man Mercury spacecraft atop an Atlas rocket to orbit on Oct. 3, 1962. The nine-hour mission on the "Sigma 7" capsule was the longest to date for a U.S. flight and set the stage for the day long, final mission of the Mercury Program that followed...

Retro Space Images, which recently released for sale an archive of almost 500 images from the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission, chose these photos to visually retell the 50 year old flight of Wally Schirra on Sigma 7.


Posts: 355
From: CA.
Registered: Jan 2011

posted 10-03-2012 10:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congratulations to Wally and the Mercury people 50 years on!!!

Wally was known to enjoy life. He was also known to love to pull pranks (or "gotchas") on people. Gordo Cooper and Jim Rathman (an Indy 500 winner) pulled a Gotcha' on Wally on his flight. Before the launch of Sigma 7 they smuggled aboard the capsule a miniature, airplane sized bottle of Cutty Sark scotch and a single row of Tareyton cigarettes. They made sure the attitude control handle had a "remove before flight" tag on it too. Schirra found the smuggled items and quite enjoyed the prank.

In his own words, "I drank the scotch as soon as I had a chance on board the recovery carrier. The medics all wondered why I had a small alcohol level in my post flight blood tests...".

Wally kept the cigarettes as a souvenir. Here they are:


Posts: 88
From: Utrecht,NL
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 10-04-2012 12:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BA002   Click Here to Email BA002     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great pictures from Retro Space Images! In the last picture though I see a man who looks a lot more like Nixon than Kennedy? Wasn't Nixon governor of California at that time? Perhaps Schirra met him in that capacity?


Posts: 555
From: South Carolina
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 10-04-2012 05:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Minor correction in both the first post in this thread and on the photos page: the name of the recovery ship was USS Kearsarge, with two "r"s. ("Kearsage" is a frequent misspelling.) Other than that, great photos!

BA002: Richard Nixon was running for governor of California at the time, but he lost that election. He never served as governor of California. Not sure who that is in the photo....

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-04-2012 07:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, I corrected both instances of the misspelling.


Posts: 252
From: Bergenfield, NJ USA
Registered: May 2000

posted 10-04-2012 11:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for manilajim   Click Here to Email manilajim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In the continuing celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Mercury flight of Wally Schirra I would like to share the following proclamation, which I initiated, from the Town of Oradell, New Jersey where Wally grew up.

I also wrote a Letter to the Editor, which was published today in the Twin Boro News, my local newspaper:

Fifty years ago, on October 3, 1962 a New Jersey man soared to new heights — quite literally. Oradell-raised Wally Schirra, who had been selected as one of NASA's Mercury astronauts, was launched into outer space on the top of a mighty Atlas rocket. Wally orbited the Earth six times and returned to Earth as a genuine American Hero. Parades and acclaim followed, including a notable celebration in Oradell and Riveredge.

Wally wasn't just America's hero, he was our hero, Bergen County's hero, New Jerseys's hero! He was a true success story for New Jersey education and personal determination.

After graduating high school Wally entered the US Naval Academy and later became a US Naval Aviator and test pilot. He joined NASA at the first opportunity and was selected as one of seven astronauts — the Mercury Seven — the cream of the crop of US aviators and test pilots. After his historic flight in his Sigma 7 capsule Wally dove back into his work at NASA and flew into space twice more in the Gemini program and in the Apollo program. In fact, he was the ONLY person to fly in all three of those capsules.

Wally was our first astronaut but other New Jersey residents followed — most notably Montclair-raised Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon. But Wally was the FIRST New Jerseyman in outer space.

I had the opportunity to meet Wally a few times before his passing and still relish his stories and the laughter we shared. He was a good man, an inspiration to others and a perfect example of where a New Jersey education can lead a person. So now, fifty years later, we salute you Wally and thank you for your service to our country.

I know that I am a day or two late with this but I hope the collectSPACE community will still enjoy it. We miss you Wally!

All times are CT (US)

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