"I'll Do It Myself" - The Greatest Feat of Piloting in Space | Summary and Q&A

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March 12, 2022
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"I'll Do It Myself" - The Greatest Feat of Piloting in Space

TL;DR

Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr., also known as Gordo Cooper, was one of the Mercury 7 astronauts and had a remarkable career in aviation, including being the last American to fly solo in orbit. However, his later obsession with UFOs and disagreements within NASA led to a decline in his reputation.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Who were the Mercury 7 astronauts?

The Mercury 7 astronauts were a group of military test pilots selected by NASA in the late 1950s to be the first Americans in space. They included Alan Shepard, John Glenn, and Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr., among others.

Q: What was Gordo Cooper's role in the Mercury program?

Gordo Cooper served as capsule commander for Alan Shepard's Mercury Redstone 3 flight and Scott Carpenter's Mercury Atlas 7 mission. He also flew as a backup pilot for Wally Schirra on Mercury Atlas 8. He eventually flew his own mission, Mercury Atlas 9, which lasted for nearly a day in orbit.

Q: Why is Gordo Cooper known for his obsession with UFOs?

After leaving NASA, Cooper became increasingly obsessed with UFOs and claimed to have witnessed them multiple times during his test flight career. He even testified on the subject to the United Nations in 1978, alleging a government cover-up of extraterrestrial presence.

Q: What led to the decline of Gordo Cooper's reputation within NASA?

Cooper's lax attitude towards training and conflicts with Deke Slayton, head of the astronaut office, during the Gemini and Apollo programs contributed to a decline in his reputation within NASA. Additionally, his public complaints and disagreements about crew assignments further strained his relationships within the organization.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr., better known as Gordo Cooper, was one of the Mercury 7 astronauts selected by NASA in the late 1950s.

  • Cooper played a significant role in the early space race, participating in important missions such as Alan Shepard's Mercury Redstone 3 flight and Scott Carpenter's Mercury Atlas 7 mission.

  • After leaving NASA, Cooper pursued various endeavors, including becoming an advocate for UFO disclosure and engaging in technical consulting and land development.

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