Today in History – May 28, 1959 – Congressional Committee of Astronautics meets the Project 7 Astronauts

28 May 1959 On this day, the Congressional Committee of Astronautics met the Project 7 astronauts. These seven original American astronauts were Scott CarpenterGordon CooperJohn GlennGus GrissomWally SchirraAlan Shepard, and Deke Slayton. The Mercury Seven created a new profession in the United States and established the image of the American astronaut for decades to come.

Prior to this date, the Space Task Group (STG) had needed to come up with a name for the people who would fly into space. A brainstorming session was held on December 1, 1958. By analogy with “aeronaut” (air traveler), someone came up with the term “astronaut”, which meant “star traveler”, although Project Mercury’s ambitions were far more limited. They thought that they had coined a new word, but the term had been used in science fiction since the 1920s.[8] A three-man panel consisting of Charles J. Donlan, Warren J. North, and Allen O. Gamble drew up a civil service job specification for astronauts. The panel proposed that astronauts be in civil service grades 12 to 15, depending on qualifications and experience, with an annual salary of $8,330 to $12,770 (equivalent to $73,059 to $112,000 in 2019).[11]

The panel also drew up selection criteria. Astronauts had to be:

  1. Less than 40 years old;
  2. Less than 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) tall;
  3. In excellent physical condition;
  4. With a bachelor’s degree or equivalent;
  5. A graduate of test pilot school;
  6. With a minimum of 1,500 hours total flying time; and
  7. A qualified jet pilot.

Source: Wikipedia

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