The Who2 Blog

Wally Schirra, ‘Gotcha’ Astronaut

Wally Schirra, one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts chosen by NASA, died Thursday of a heart attack at age 84. His family reported that he died at a hospital in La Jolla, California.

Schirra was the fifth American in space. Some obituaries say that Schirra was “remembered for his space exploits,” others say he was “remembered for his gotchas.” (His “gotchas” being pranks, like smuggling a corned beef sandwich onto Gemini 3 for its crew to eat in zero gravity.)

NASA is always great with their flight records, and they have good reports on Schirra’s three space flights: Mercury Sigma-7, Gemini 6, and Apollo 7 (AKA “The Walt, Wally and Don Show”).

NASA also has a good basic Schirra biography. And fans of astronautics in general will enjoy NASA’s archived website from the 40th Anniversary of the Mercury 7.

With the passing of Schirra, only two of the original Mercury 7 astronauts remain: Scott Carpenter (the second American to make a full orbit of Earth) and John Glenn (the first orbital American).

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