Monday, October 4, 2004

Thanks, Gordo

Faith 7
Gemini 5
American hero...
Always cool...
Picture from Hometown The Mercury 7: From left to right, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Walter Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton.
For an exaggerated Gordo, read The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe (or see him portrayed by Dennis Quaid in the movie of the same name!)...
For the real Gordo, read his fascinating autobiography, Leap of Faith: An Astronaut's Journey into the Unknown, published in 2000.
Yes, he really did take a little nap while waiting out the interminable countdown on the last Mercury flight.  Cool, I tell you!
He lived a full and amazing life.  I'll always appreciate what he did for the space program.  Though his life extended far beyond his astronaut years, here is what he wrote just a few years ago, in the final words of his autobiography:
"I was asked recently what I would do if an alien spacecraft landed in my backyard and offered me a ride.  "Would you go or stay, Gordo?"
"Stepping aboard a ship from a distant world could result in something more than an afternoon joyride, I know.  If there is interdimensional travel - and I believe there is - I could return to "Earth time" and find my loved ones and friends long deceased.
"I love my wife and daughters, and I enjoy spending time with my friends and old flying buddies, and I would miss them all.  But I'm still an astronaut at heart.
"I'm going."
Gordon Cooper, NASA Mercury Pioneer, Dies