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Gordon Cooper

From Academic Kids

Missing image
GordonCooperHelmetNasa.jpg
Cooper's work often had him wearing a helmet and pressure suit as above.

Leroy Gordon Cooper, Jr. (March 6, 1927October 4, 2004), known as Gordon Cooper, was an American astronaut. He was one of the original Mercury 7 pilots in the Mercury program, the first manned-space effort by the United States.

Cooper was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma. He grew up there and in Murray, Kentucky, where he attended public schools. In 1956, Cooper received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology.

While stationed in Germany in the early 1950's, Cooper claims to have seen several Unidentified flying objects. He related his account on Art Bell's radio program, stating the object were shaped "like saucers -- they were metallic looking, but we couldn't really get close enough to see more than that. You couldn't see any wings on them." Cooper initially suspected the objects were Russian, but later speculated they could be "some kind of extraterrestrial vehicle." [1] (http://www.space.com/sciencefiction/phenomena/cooper.html)

Cooper served as a test pilot in the U.S. Air Force before being selected as a Mercury astronaut in April 1959. He was launched into space on May 15, 1963 aboard the Mercury-Atlas 9–Faith 7 spacecraft. Cooper's was the last Mercury mission. He orbited the Earth 22 times and logged more time in space than all five previous Mercury astronauts combined. His mission lasted 34 hours, 19 minutes and 49 seconds, during which he completed 22 orbits and traveled 546,167 miles (878,971 km) at 17,547 mph (28,239 km/h), pulling a maximum of 7.6 g (75 m/s²). Cooper achieved an altitude of 165.9 statute miles (267 km) at apogee. He also gained the distinction of becoming the first American astronaut to sleep not only in orbit but on the launch pad during a countdown.

Two years later, on August 21, 1965, Cooper flew in the Gemini program as the commander of Gemini 5 on an eight-day mission with Charles Conrad. Cooper was the first person to make a second orbital flight. He was tentatively scheduled to fly in the Apollo program (he was backup commander of Apollo 10) but was scratched after a falling-out with NASA management - Alan Shepard was chosen over him to be commander of Apollo 13 (Shepard's crew was later moved onto Apollo 14). He retired from NASA and the Air Force on July 31, 1970 with the rank of colonel.

For an early astronaut and engineer, Cooper had an atypical fascination with the pseudosciences, along with fellow astronaut Edgar Mitchell.

He was the recipient of an honorary Doctorate of Science degree from Oklahoma City University in 1967.

Cooper wrote one book, Leap of Faith (ISBN 0060194162), which chronicled his experiences with the Air Force and NASA as well as his efforts to expose an alleged UFO conspiracy.

The story of the Mercury astronauts is portrayed in the film The Right Stuff (1983) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086197/), in which Cooper was played by Dennis Quaid. Cooper is also the last American astronaut to orbit the Earth for an entire mission by himself. However, he wasn't the last U.S. astronaut to reach space alone.

Two flights of the X-15 later in 1963 passed the 100 km "edge of space". Also, SpaceShipOne, largely funded by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen made three flights past that barrier. The third flight by that craft, in which it won the Ansari X Prize, occurred on October 4, 2004—the same day that Cooper died at age 77 in Ventura, California.


External links

fr:Gordon Cooper lb:Gordon Cooper nl:Leroy Cooper sk:Gordon Cooper sl:Leroy Gordon Cooper

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