Mercury 9

Mercury 9The final manned Mercury flight, Mercury 9 (nicknamed Faith 7) puts astronaut Gordon Cooper in orbit for over a day. Over the course of 34 hours, Cooper circles Earth 22 times, performing small-scale experiments and photography tasks. With Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton grounded due to health issues, only six of the Mercury seven have flown. Development of a two-seater descendant of the Mercury design (initially called “Big Mercury” but now known as Gemini) is well underway, along with the development of the Apollo spacecraft that will succeed Gemini and take men to the moon. Cooper is the last solo American space pilot until Mike Melvill flies the experimental SpaceShip One into suborbital space in the 21st century.