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Mercury Astronaut Gordon Cooper’s Signed “Bioscience Data Plan” for Conducting Vital Biomedical Research on the Impact of Space Flight on the Human Body
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Medical researchers wanted to gather “aeromedical” data and test effects on the Project Mercury astronaut’s body of “significant and unusual stresses of manned capsule flight.” The stresses they were looking into included weightlessness, acceleration tolerance, radiation, noise vibration, thermal stresses, and hypobaric and environmental control system effects. At the time, some scientists believed that weightlessness could lead to circulatory failure, disorientation, gastrointestinal and urinary disturbances, and lack of muscular coordination. The key conclusion of Project Mercury’s biomedical program was that human beings could function in the space environment for incrementally increasing flight durations of more than one day.

GORDON COOPER JR.. Typed Document Signed, “NASA PROJECT MERCURY WORKING PAPER NO. 164 / PROJECT MERCURY / BIOSCIENCE DATA PLAN,” December 1, 1960, inscribed “My personal copy / Gordon Cooper.” 7 leaves + covers, 8 x 10 ½ in. Three-hole punched on left side; some toning; very good.

Inventory #24308.01       Price: $750

Historical Background

Project Mercury (1958-1963) was America’s first human spaceflight program. Initially begun by the U.S. Air Force, the program transferred to the newly created civilian National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in 1958. After twenty unmanned flights, Project Mercury culminated with six successful manned flights between 1961 and 1963.Millions of people around the world followed the Mercury missions on radio and television. Its success paved the way for Project Gemini (1961-1966) and the Apollo program (1961-1972).

Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr. (1927-2004) was born in Oklahoma and learned to fly at an early age. After serving in the Marine Corps in 1945 and 1946, he went to Hawaii to live with his parents and attend the University of Hawaii. In 1947, he married Trudy B. Olson (1927-1994), and they had two children. He joined the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant in June 1949, and transferred to the U.S. Air Force three months later. After service in West Germany and two years of study at the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology in Ohio, he graduated with a degree in Aerospace Engineering in 1956. Cooper served as a test pilot for jet aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base in California. In 1959, Cooper was the youngest of seven astronauts selected for NASA’s Project Mercury. In 1963, Cooper piloted the longest and last Mercury spaceflight, Mercury-Atlas 9. In the 34-hour mission, he became the first American to spend an entire day in space, the first to sleep in space, and the last American to pilot a solo orbital mission. Two years later, he flew as Command Pilot of Gemini 5. He retired from NASA and the Air Force with the rank of colonel in 1971. Always fascinated by racing cars and boats, Cooper held a variety of positions after his retirement related to those fields and to aerospace and land development.

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