Gus Grissom taught NASA a hard lesson: “You can hurt yourself in the ocean” (2016)
Back on July 21, 1961, another pivotal moment in the evolution of human spaceflight took place when Gus Grissom splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean within a small Mercury capsule-almost drowning in the process. A mere 10 weeks after Alan Shepard made America's first human flight into space, Grissom followed with the second one, a 15-minute suborbital hop that took him to an altitude of 189km above the blue planet. For today's astronauts, Grissom's near-death experience in the Atlantic Ocean has renewed importance, offering a sobering reminder of the sea's peril as NASA plans to return its Orion capsule from deep space again by way of the ocean. Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom was the second youngest of the Mercury Seven astronauts NASA announced to the world on April 9, 1959. Among the group, Grissom distinguished himself by working hard. As Grissom became the first American to directly view the Earth from space, he marveled at his home planet. Before firing the hatch, Grissom was supposed to wait for a rescue helicopter to fly over, hook into the lifting loop on top of the capsule, and raise it out of the water.