Gus Grissom

From Academic Kids

Gus Grissom in his Mercury spacesuit
Gus Grissom in his Mercury spacesuit

Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom (April 3, 1926January 27, 1967) was a U.S. Air Force pilot who became one of the first American astronauts.



Grissom was born in Mitchell, Indiana and graduated from Mitchell High School. He earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1950. He had two children with his wife Betty.



Grissom was a United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. He received his wings in March, 1951. Over his Air Force career he flew 100 combat missions in Korea in F-86s with the 334th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. Upon returning from Korea he became a jet instructor at Bryan, Texas.

In August 1955, he entered the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to study Aeronautical Engineering.

In October 1956 he attended the Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and returned to Wright-Patterson in May 1957 as a test pilot assigned to the fighter branch.


In 1959, after a series of physical and psychological tests, Grissom was chosen to be one of the seven Project Mercury astronauts, along with:

He was pilot for Mercury-Redstone 4 ("Liberty Bell 7"), the second American (suborbital) spaceflight. Following the Splashdown of "Liberty Bell 7" the hatch ejected letting water into the capsule interior and Grissom's suit, and in the process of his recovery by a helicopter, he was nearly drowned while the spacecraft sank in deep water.

After Alan Shepard was grounded, Grissom was made command pilot for the first manned Project Gemini mission (Gemini 3), as well as backup command pilot for Gemini 6.


Template:QuoteSidebar Grissom was made commander of Apollo 1, intended to be the first manned Apollo flight. He was killed along with fellow astronauts Ed White and Roger B. Chaffee in the Apollo 1 fire at Cape Kennedy on January 27 1967. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

NASA management wanted one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts to be the first man to eventually walk on the moon - had Grissom lived, he would very likely have been that man.

He logged a total of 4,600 hours flying time — 3,500 hours in jet aircraft.

Awards and honors

  • Posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor
  • Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in Korea
  • Air Medal with cluster for his serice in Korea
  • Two NASA Distinguished Service medals
  • The NASA Exceptional Service Medal
  • The Air Force Command Astronaut Wings.


  • Grissom Air Reserve Base in Indiana is named after him.
  • The Virgil I. Grissom Library in the Denbigh section of Newport News, Virginia is named after him.
  • The Virgil I. Grissom High School in Huntsville, Alabama is named after him.
  • "CSI" character Gil Grissom is named after him.
  • Grissom Hall at Purdue University is named after him.

Film and television

Grissom was depicted in the movie The Right Stuff (1983) by Fred Ward and in the TV mini-series From the Earth to the Moon (1998) by Mark Rolston.


External links

it:Virgil I. Grissom nl:Virgil Grissom pl:Gus Grissom


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