Gus Grissom +Search for Videos

Virgil I. Grissom
Virgil Ivan Grissom

NASA+ Astronaut+
Killed during training
Mitchell, Indiana+, U.S.
Cape Canaveral+, Florida+, U.S.
Test pilot+
Purdue University+, B.S. 1950
Lieutenant Colonel+, USAF+
1959 NASA Group 1+
5h 7m
Mercury-Redstone 4+, Gemini 3+, Apollo 1+

X | Mute
X | Mute

'''Virgil Ivan Grissom''' (April 3, 1926 – January 27, 1967), (Lt Col+, USAF+), better known as '''Gus Grissom''', was one of the original NASA+ Project Mercury+ astronaut+s, test pilot+, mechanical engineer+, and a United States Air Force+ pilot+. He was the second American+ to fly in space, and the first member of the NASA Astronaut Corps+ to fly in space twice.In 1963, NASA test pilot Joe Walker+ became the first person to fly twice in space, defined as >100km+, while flying the X-15+.

Grissom was killed along with fellow astronauts Ed White+ and Roger Chaffee+ during a pre-launch test for the Apollo 1+ mission at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station+ (then known as Cape Kennedy), Florida+. He was the first of the Mercury Seven+ to die. He was also a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross+ and, posthumously, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor+.

Grissom was born in Mitchell, Indiana+, on April 3, 1926, the second child of Dennis David Grissom (1903–1994) and Cecile King Grissom (1901–1995). His father was a signalman for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad+, and his mother a homemaker. His older sister died shortly before his birth, and he was followed by three younger siblings, Wilma, Norman and Lowell. As a child he attended the local Church of Christ+ where he remained a lifelong member and joined the Boy Scouts'+ Troop 46. He earned the rank of Star Scout+. He was enrolled in public elementary schools and went on to attend Mitchell High School+. Grissom met and befriended Betty Lavonne Moore at school through their extracurricular activities. He worked delivering newspapers for the ''Indianapolis Star+'' and in a local meat market for his first jobs.

Grissom occasionally spent time at a local airport in Bedford, Indiana+, where he first became interested in flying. A local attorney who owned a small plane would take him on flights for a $+1 fee and taught him the basics of flying an airplane. World War II+ broke out while Grissom was still in high school+, and he was eager to enlist upon graduation. Grissom enlisted as an aviation cadet in the United States Army Air Forces+ and completed an entrance exam in November 1943. He graduated from high school in 1944, and was inducted into the army at Fort Benjamin Harrison+ on August 8, 1944. He was sent to Sheppard Field+ in Wichita Falls, Texas+, for basic training after which he was assigned as a clerk+ at Brooks Field+ in San Antonio, Texas+.

As the war neared its end, Grissom sought to be discharged. He married Betty Moore on July 6, 1945, while on leave, and secured his discharge in September. He took a job at Carpenter Body Works, a local bus manufacturing business, and rented an apartment in Mitchell. However, he had trouble providing a sufficient income and was determined to attend college. Taking advantage of the G.I. Bill+ for partial payment of his school tuition, Grissom enrolled at Purdue University+ in September 1946. During his time in college, Betty returned to live with her parents and took a job at the Indiana Bell Telephone Company while he worked part-time as a cook at a local restaurant. Grissom took summer classes to finish early and graduated with a Bachelor of Science+ degree in Mechanical Engineering+ in 1950.

Gus Grissom was a Master Mason+, a member of Mitchell Lodge # 228 of Mitchell, Indiana.

Grissom re-enlisted in the military after his graduation from Purdue, this time in the newly formed United States Air Force+. He was accepted into the air cadet basic training program at Randolph Air Force Base+ in Universal City, Texas+. Upon completion of the program, he was assigned to Williams Air Force Base+ in Mesa, Arizona+. In March 1951 Grissom received his pilot wings+ and commission as a Second Lieutenant+. Grissom's wife remained in Indiana and while he was away his first child, Scott, was born. After his birth they joined Grissom at his base in Arizona. The family remained there only briefly and in December 1951 they moved to Presque Isle, Maine+, where Grissom was assigned to Presque Isle Air Force Base+ and became a member of the 75th Fighter Interceptor Squadron+.

With the ongoing Korean War+, Grissom's squadron was dispatched to the war zone in February 1952. There he flew as an F-86 Sabre+ replacement pilot and was reassigned to the 334th Fighter Squadron+ of the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing+ stationed at Kimpo Air Base+. Grissom flew 100 combat missions+ during his time in the war, serving as a wingman+ protecting the lead fighters. The position was not one that put him in a position to attack the enemy and he did not shoot down any planes while he was in service. He did personally drive off Korean air raids on multiple occasions as their MiG+s would often flee at the first sign of superior American aircraft. On March 11, 1952, Grissom was promoted to First Lieutenant+ and was

Grissom requested to remain in Korea to fly another 25 flights, but his request was denied. He was given the option of which base he would like to be stationed at in the United States and he requested the Bryan AFB+ in Bryan, Texas+. There he served as a flight instructor+, and was joined by his wife and son. His second child was born in Bryan in 1953. During a training exercise with a cadet, a trainee pilot caused a flap to break off the plane, causing it to spin out of control. Grissom climbed from the rear seat of the small craft to take over the controls and safely land the jet.

In August 1955, Grissom was reassigned to the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology+ located in Dayton, Ohio+. There he earned a bachelor's degree in Aeromechanics+ after completing the year-long course. In October 1956, he entered USAF Test Pilot School+ at Edwards Air Force Base+, California+, and returned to Wright-Patterson AFB+ in May 1957 as a test pilot+ assigned to the fighter branch.

In 1958, Grissom received an official teletype message instructing him to report to an address in Washington, D.C.+ wearing civilian clothes. The message was classified "Top Secret" and Grissom was not to discuss its contents with anyone. Grissom discovered that he was one of 110 military test pilots whose credentials had earned them an invitation to learn more about the space program in general and Project Mercury+ in particular. Grissom liked the sound of the program, but knew that competition for the final spots would be fierce.

Grissom was sent to the Lovelace Clinic+ and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base+ to receive extensive physical examinations and to submit to a battery of psychological tests. He was nearly disqualified when doctors discovered that he suffered from hay fever+, but was permitted to continue on when it was determined that his allergies would not be a problem due to the absence of ragweed pollen in space. On April 13, 1959, Grissom received official notification that he had been selected as one of the seven Project Mercury astronauts.Discovery Channel+, When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions+, "Ordinary Supermen," airdate June 8, 2008 (season 1)

On July 21, 1961, Grissom was pilot of the second Project Mercury+ flight, Mercury-Redstone 4, popularly known as ''Liberty Bell 7''. This was a sub-orbital flight+ that lasted 15 minutes and 37 seconds. After splashdown+, emergency explosive bolts unexpectedly fired and blew the hatch off, causing water to flood into the spacecraft. Quickly exiting through the open hatch and into the ocean, Grissom was nearly drowned as water began filling his spacesuit+. A recovery helicopter tried to lift and recover the spacecraft, but the flooding spacecraft became too heavy, and it was ultimately cut loose before sinking.

Grissom asserted he had done nothing to cause the hatch to blow, and NASA officials eventually concluded that he was correct. Initiating the explosive egress system required hitting a metal trigger with the side of a closed fist, which unavoidably left a large, obvious bruise on the astronaut's hand, but Grissom was found not to have any of the tell-tale bruising. Still, controversy remained, and fellow Mercury astronaut Wally Schirra+, at the end of his October 3, 1962 flight+, remained inside his spacecraft until it was safely aboard the recovery ship, and made a point of deliberately blowing the hatch to get out, bruising his hand.

Grissom's spacecraft was recovered in 1999+, but no further evidence was found which could conclusively explain how the explosive hatch release had occurred. Later, Guenter Wendt+, pad leader for the early American manned space launches, wrote that he believed a small cover over the external release actuator was accidentally lost sometime during the flight or splashdown and the T-handle may have been tugged by a stray parachute shroud line, or was perhaps damaged by the heat of re-entry and after cooling upon splashdown, contracted and fired.

Grissom was surrounded by reporters in a news conference after his space flight in America's second manned ship. When asked how he felt, he replied, "Well, I was scared a good portion of the time; I guess that's a pretty good indication."

In early 1964 Alan Shepard+ was grounded after being diagnosed with Ménière's disease+ and Grissom was designated command pilot for Gemini 3+, the first manned Project Gemini+ flight, which flew on March 23, 1965. This mission made him the first NASA astronaut+ to fly into space twice. This flight made three revolutions of the Earth and lasted for 4 hours, 52 minutes and 31 seconds. Grissom was one of the eight pilots of the NASA paraglider research vehicle+.

Grissom was one of the smaller astronauts, and he worked very closely with the engineers and technicians from McDonnell Aircraft+ who built the Gemini spacecraft. The first three spacecraft were built around him and the design was humorously referred to as "the Gusmobile". However by July 1963 NASA discovered 14 out of the 16 astronauts could not fit themselves into the cabin and later cockpits were modified. During this time Grissom invented the multi-axis translation+ thruster controller used to push the Gemini and Apollo spacecraft in linear directions for rendezvous and docking+.

In a joking nod to the sinking of his Mercury craft, Grissom named the first Gemini spacecraft ''Molly Brown+'' (after the popular Broadway show ''The Unsinkable Molly Brown+''); NASA publicity officials were unhappy with this name. When Grissom and his Pilot John Young+ were ordered to come up with a new one, they offered ''Titanic''. Aghast, NASA executives gave in and allowed the name ''Molly Brown'', but did not use it in any official references. Subsequently and much to the agency's chagrin, on launch CAPCOM+ Gordon Cooper+ gave Gemini 3+ its sendoff by telling Grissom and Young, "You're on your way, ''Molly Brown''!" and ground controllers used this name throughout the flight.Shayler, David (2001), ''Gemini: Steps to the Moon''. Chichester, UK: Praxis Publishing. ISBN 1-85233-405-3, p. 186

After the safe return of Gemini 3, NASA announced new spacecraft would not be named. Hence Gemini 4+ was not named ''American Eagle'' as its crew had planned. The naming of spacecraft resumed in 1967 after managers found the Apollo+ flights needed a name for each of two flight elements, the Command Module+ and Lunar Module+. Lobbying by the astronauts and senior NASA administrators also had an effect. Apollo 9+ had the callsigns ''Gumdrop'' for the Command Module and ''Spider'' for the Lunar Module. However, Wally Schirra+ had been prevented from naming his Apollo 7+ spacecraft ''Phoenix'' in honor of Grissom's Apollo 1+ crew since it was believed the average taxpayer would not take a "fire" metaphor as intended.

Grissom was backup Command Pilot for Gemini 6A+ when he shifted to the Apollo program+ and was assigned as Command Pilot of the first manned mission '''AS-204''', with Senior Pilot Ed White+, who had flown in space on Gemini 4+ mission when he became the first American to make a spacewalk, and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee+. The three men were granted permission to refer to their flight as Apollo 1 on their mission insignia patch.

Before its planned February 21, 1967 launch, the Command Module interior caught fire and burned on January 27, 1967 during a pre-launch test on Launch Pad 34 at Cape Kennedy+, killing all three men. The fire's ignition source was never determined, but their deaths were attributed to a wide range of lethal hazards in the early Apollo Command Module design and conditions of the test, including a pressurized 100% oxygen+ pre-launch atmosphere, many wiring and plumbing flaws, flammable materials used in the cockpit and in the astronauts' flight suits, and an inward-opening hatch which could not be opened quickly in an emergency and could not be opened at all with full internal pressure. After the tragedy, NASA adopted a new flight numbering system for Apollo, and honored the crew by making Apollo 1 official. The spacecraft problems were corrected, and the Apollo program carried on successfully to reach its objective of landing men on the Moon.

Grissom had attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel+ at the time of his death, and had logged a total of 4,600 hours flying time, including 3,500 hours in jet airplanes+. Chief astronaut Deke Slayton+ wrote that he wanted one of the original Mercury Seven+ astronauts to be the first on the Moon and, "Had Gus been alive, as a Mercury astronaut he would have taken the step ... My first choice would have been Gus, which both Chris Kraft+ and Bob Gilruth+ seconded."

Gus Grissom is buried in Section 3 coord|38.873115

When the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame+ opened in 1990, his family lent the spacesuit+ worn by Grissom during Mercury 4+ along with other personal artifacts belonging to the astronaut. In 2002, the museum went into bankruptcy and was taken over by a NASA contractor, whereupon the family asked for everything back. All the artifacts were returned to them except the spacesuit, which NASA claimed was government property. NASA insisted Grissom got authorization to use the spacesuit for a show and tell+ at his son's school and never returned it, but some Grissom family members claimed the astronaut rescued the spacesuit from a scrap heap.

Grissom and his wife Betty had two sons: Scott (born May 16, 1950) and Mark (born December 30, 1953). He greatly valued being home with his family, stating that "it sure helped to spend a quiet evening with your wife and children in your own living room." His wife Betty accommodated his hectic schedule by completing major chores and errands during the week so weekends would be free for family activities. She did not wear him down by constantly grilling him about the details of his job. In turn, Grissom refused to let work problems intrude on his time at home and tried to complete technical reading or paperwork after the boys were asleep. Gus also introduced his sons to hunting+ and fishing+, two of his favorite hobbies.



|Air Force Master Astronaut badge+

|Distinguished Flying Cross+
Air Medal+ with cluster+

Congressional Space Medal of Honor+
NASA Distinguished Service Medal+
with cluster
NASA Exceptional Service Medal+

Army Good Conduct Medal+
American Campaign Medal+
World War II Victory Medal+

National Defense Service Medal+
with one star+
Korean Service Medal+
with two stars
Air Force Longevity Service Award+
with three clusters

Presidential Unit Citation
United Nations Korea Medal+
Korean War Service Medal+

*Air Force Command Pilot rating+ with astronaut qualifier
*Honorary Doctorate+, Florida Institute of Technology+
*Member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots+
*Honorary Mayor+ of Newport News, Virginia+ (posthumous)
*Inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame+ in 1981.
*Enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame+ in 1987.
*Inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame+ on May 11, 1990.
*Enshrined at the "Wall of Honor" at the Smithsonian+ National Air and Space Museum+'s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center+ at Washington Dulles International Airport+
*In a 2010 Space Foundation+ survey, Grissom was ranked as the #9 (tied with astronauts Buzz Aldrin+ and Alan Shepard+) most popular space hero.

*There are three schools in Huntsville, Alabama+, named after the Apollo 1 astronauts: Virgil I. Grissom High School+, Roger B. Chaffee Elementary School, and Ed White Middle School.

*There are three streets in Buffalo, NY named after the Apollo 1 astronauts: Gus Grissom Drive, Roger Chaffee Drive and Edward White Drive.

* The dismantled Launch Pad 34+ at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station+ bears two memorial plaques: One reads, ''They gave their lives in service to their country in the ongoing exploration of humankind's final frontier. Remember them not for how they died but for those ideals for which they lived.'' and the other, ''In memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice so others could reach for the stars. Ad astra per aspera, (a rough road leads to the stars). God speed to the crew of Apollo 1.''
*Grissom is named with his Apollo 1 crewmates on the Space Mirror Memorial+ at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex+ in Florida.
*Grissom crater+ is one of several located on the far side of the Moon named for Apollo astronauts, near a large crater (walled plain) named Apollo+.
*''Grissom Hill'' is one of the ''Apollo 1 Hills+'' on Mars+, located southwest of Columbia Memorial Station+.
*''Navi'' (''Ivan'' spelled backwards), a nickname for the star Gamma Cassiopeiae+: Grissom used this name, plus two others for White and Chaffee, on his Apollo 1 mission planning star charts as a joke, and the succeeding Apollo astronauts kept using the names as a memorial.
*2161 Grissom+ is a main belt asteroid+.
*The airport in Bedford, Indiana where Grissom flew as a teenager was renamed Virgil I. Grissom Municipal Airport.
*Grissom's boyhood home on Grissom Avenue (renamed in his honor after his Mercury flight) in Mitchell, Indiana+, is currently being restored into a museum.
*A limestone+ carving of the Titan II rocket which launched his Gemini flight is in downtown Mitchell, Indiana. There is also a memorial in nearby Spring Mill State Park+.
*The auditorium in Mitchell High School+, which Grissom attended.
*Virgil I. Grissom Library, Denbigh section of Newport News, Virginia+.
*Virgil I. Grissom Bridge across the Hampton River, on Rt 258 (Mercury Blvd, named after the Mercury program) in Hampton, VA, is one of the six bridges and one road named after the original 7 Mercury astronauts, who trained in the area.
*Virgil "Gus" Grissom Park, Fullerton, California+. (Fullerton also has parks named for White and Chaffee).
*The ''Gus Grissom Stakes'', a thoroughbred horse race run in Indiana each fall; originally held at Hoosier Park+ in Anderson+, moved in 2014 to Indiana Grand Race Course+ in Shelbyville+.
*Grissom Island, artificial island+, Long Beach Harbor+ off Southern California+ (along with White and Chaffee Islands).

*Bunker Hill Air Force Base in Peru, Indiana+, was renamed on May 12, 1968, to ''Grissom Air Force Base''. In 1994 it was again renamed to ''Grissom Air Reserve Base+'' following the USAF's realignment program.
*Grissom Dining Facility, Misawa Air Base+, Japan+.
*Grissom was the "Class Exemplar" of the United States Air Force Academy+ class of 2007.
*Grissom Hall at the former Chanute Air Force Base+, Rantoul, Illinois, where Minuteman missile+ maintenance training was conducted.
*Grissom Avenue at the former Mather Air Force Base+, now known as Sacramento Mather Airport+, Rancho Cordova, California, is one of a number of streets at the former base named after Mercury, Gemini and Apollo program astronauts.

*Grissom Hall at Purdue University+, his alma mater, was the home of the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics for several decades. It is currently home of the Purdue department of Industrial Engineering.
*Grissom Hall, Florida Institute of Technology+.
*Grissom Hall, State University of New York at Fredonia+.
*Virgil I. Grissom High School+, Huntsville, Alabama+. (Huntsville also has schools named for Roger Chaffee, Ed White, Mae Jemison, Ronald McNair and the lost space shuttles: Roger B. Chaffee Elementary School, Ed White Middle School+, Challenger Middle School+, and Columbia High School+)
*Virgil I. Grissom Middle School, Mishawaka, Indiana+.
*Virgil I. Grissom Middle School, Tinley Park, Illinois+.
*Virgil I. Grissom Middle School, Sterling Heights, Michigan+.
*Virgil I. Grissom Junior High School 226, South Ozone Park, Queens+, New York City+, New York+.
*Virgil I. Grissom Elementary School, Houston+, Texas+.
*Virgil Grissom Elementary School, Old Bridge, New Jersey+. (This school was named for Grissom several years before his death.)
*Virgil I. Grissom Elementary School in the Hegewisch+ community of Chicago+, Illinois+.
*Grissom Elementary School, Gary, Indiana+.
*Virgil Grissom Elementary School, Princeton, Iowa+.
*Grissom Elementary School, Tulsa, Oklahoma+.
*Virgil I. Grissom School No. 7, Rochester, New York+.
*V.I. Grissom Elementary School, at the closed Clark Air Base+, Philippines+.
*Grissom Elementary School, Muncie, Indiana+.

Grissom has been noted and remembered in many film and television productions. Before he became widely known as an astronaut, the film ''Air Cadet+'' (1951) starring Richard Long+ and Rock Hudson+ briefly featured Grissom early in the movie as a U.S. Air Force candidate for flight school at Randolph Field+, San Antonio, Texas+. Grissom was depicted by Fred Ward+ in the film ''The Right Stuff+'' (1983) and (very briefly) in the film ''Apollo 13+'' (1995) by Steve Bernie+. He was portrayed in the 1998 HBO+ miniseries+ ''From the Earth to the Moon+'' (1998) by Mark Rolston+. Actor Kevin McCorkle+ played Grissom in the third season finale of the NBC+ television show ''American Dreams+''. Bryan Cranston+ played Grissom as a nervous variety-show guest in the film ''That Thing You Do!+''

In the film ''Star Trek III: The Search for Spock+'' the Federation+ starship sent to survey the newly formed Genesis Planet+ is named USS ''Grissom''+. A second starship in ''Star Trek: The Next Generation+'' is also said to be called USS ''Grissom''. The character Gus Griswald in the popular children's TV show ''Recess+'' is named after Grissom (his fictional father is a General in the US Army and Gus is his recruit). The character Gil Grissom+ in the CBS television series ''CSI: Crime Scene Investigation+'' and the character Virgil Tracy+ in the British television series ''Thunderbirds+'' are named after the astronaut. NASA footage including Grissom's Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions was released in high definition on the Discovery Channel+ in June 2008 in the television series ''When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions+''.

At the time of his death, Grissom had been putting the finishing touches on ''Gemini!: A Personal Account of Man's Venture Into Space''; he had been heavily involved in the engineering of the spacecraft. The final chapter is dated January 1967, a few days before Grissom's death on the Apollo launch pad. According to editor Jacob Hay, the book's final form was "reached with the approval of Mrs. Betty Grissom."

A book titled ''Seven Minus One: The Story of Astronaut Gus Grissom'' was published in 1968 by Carl L. Chappell, Ph.D.+ through New Frontier Publishing Co. of Madison, Indiana, and is probably the earliest biography of Col. Grissom.

Betty Grissom co-wrote a memoir with Henry Still, titled ''Starfall'' (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1974.)

A family-approved account of Grissom's life appears in the 2003 book ''Fallen Astronauts'' by Colin Burgess+ and Kate Doolan.

The Indiana Historical Society commissioned ''Gus Grissom: The Lost Astronaut'' by Ray E. Boomhower, as part of its "Indiana Biography Series". It was first published in 2004.

*Weight: 150 lb (68 kg)
*Height: 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
*Hair: Brown
*Eyes: Hazel

*Fallen Astronaut+
*List of spaceflight-related accidents and incidents+
*List of spaceflight records+

Commons category:

* - NASA
* at the National Aviation Hall of Fame+
* at the Internet Movie Database+
* Photographs of grave site, Arlington National Cemetery+ along with other photographs and a brief biography.

Congressional Space Medal of Honor:

US Air Force navbox:

Gus Grissom+ Virgil Ivan Grissom (April 3, 1926 – January 27, 1967), (Lt Col, USAF), better known as Gus Grissom, was one of the original NASA Project Mercury astronauts, test pilot, mechanical engineer, and a United States Air Force pilot.