NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Preparations for America's second manned spaceflight. Astronaut Virgil 'Gus' Grissom waits next to his Mercury capsule (named Liberty Bell 7), before becoming America's second man in space. Astronaut John Glenn is seen in the background. Grissom's flight, MR4, was launched on 21 July 1961. The sub-orbital flight lasted 15 minutes 37 seconds, reaching an altitude of 190.4km. After splash-down, the new explosive exit hatch accidentally detonated. The capsule flooded and sank. Grissom escaped and was safely recovered from the sea. Grissom went on to fly on Gemini 3 in 1965, but was later killed in a launch pad fire prior to Apollo 3 on 27 January 1967.
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