Dec 7, 2013
Early Astronauts Were Lucky to Survive the Unknown
Posted on Feb 20, 2012
Fifty years ago, John Glenn sat in a little metal capsule rocketing around the Earth, while down on the ground NASA scientists thought his eyes might change shape.
Former astronaut Steve Lindsey, who flew in the much more advanced space shuttle, said Glenn’s chances of surviving that mission were akin to a game of Russian roulette.
It was the great unknown in those days and NASA wasn’t sure how the human body would cope to prolonged exposure to microgravity. Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had already orbited the Earth once and two Americans had poked their heads into the void, all surviving relatively intact. But Glenn was up there for five hours and he had to make a tricky landing.
NASA also wasn’t certain where Glenn would end up, and, MSNBC reports, the spaceman learned a few aboriginal greetings should he drop down in Australia:
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