Home >

Oklahomans in Space

Programs

Mercury Program


Faith 7 mission patch, Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (42)

The Mercury Program was the first American effort to send humans into space. The astronauts had a lot of courage to take on such a risky mission, but they wanted to help America win the space race.

Gordon Leroy Cooper, of Shawnee, Oklahoma, was an astronaut for the Mercury program. He flew on the Faith 7 on May 15, 1963. Only one person could fit inside the spacecraft. The Faith 7 was the last and longest flight of all the Mercury missions. It flew around the Earth twenty-two times. At the end of the flight the automatic system failed and Cooper used his pilot skills to get back to Earth safely.

Drawing of the Mercury Capsule. Only one astronaut could fit in the capsule. (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Mercury Atlas 9, also called Faith 7, launching. (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Gemini Program


This was the second phase of the space program. The program's purpose was to study and prepare to go to the moon. NASA wanted to see if humans could survive long enough in space and in a spacesuit outside of the spaceship. The spacecraft for this program had space for two people.

Leroy Gordon Cooper of Shawnee, Oklahoma, commanded the Gemini 5. It launched on August 21, 1965. The Gemini 5 mission helped to prove that people could live in space at least eight days, which is long enough to fly to the moon.

Thomas Stafford flew in the Gemini 6-A that launched on December 15, 1965. Walter Schirra and he flew within a foot of the Gemini 7, proving that spacecrafts could fly close together, which was necessary for flying to the moon.

Thomas Stafford flew again in the Gemini 9-A mission when the original crew died in a plane crash. The spacecraft launched on June 3, 1966. When the other astronaut's helmet fogged over Stafford saved the man's life by talking him back inside. This flight helped NASA fix unexpected problems before going to the moon.

Gemini 5 mission patch. (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Gemini 6 mission patch. (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Gemini 9 mission patch. (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Gemini space suit used for testing. L203, loan from Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Inc., Oklahomans and Space exhibit, Oklahoma History Center

Gemini 9 spacecraft launch, 1966. (22311.S-66-34098, Jerry Elliott Collection, OHS)

Apollo Program


With the Apollo program humans would land on the moon for the first time. On Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people on the moon when they landed on July 20, 1969. Thomas Stafford was the commander on Apollo 10 that launched May 18, 1969. The crew of the Apollo 10 orbited the moon.

Fred Haise was the lunar module pilot for Apollo 13, which launched April 11, 1970. The flight became dangerous when there was an explosion and the crew had to turn around. Haise flew the spacecraft and the crew safely back to Earth.

Stuart Roosa from Claremore, Oklahoma, was the command module pilot for Apollo 14, which launched January 31, 1971. Apollo 14 sent third spacecraft to land on the moon.

Thomas Stafford of Weatherford, Oklahoma, was the commander for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, which launched July 15, 1975. This was the first mission where Americans and Soviets worked together, which helped lead to the end of the Cold War.

Apollo 10 mission patch. (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Apollo 13 mission patch. (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Apollo-Soyuz mission patch. (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Apollo 14 mission patch. (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

The Saturn 1-B rocket launching the Apollo-Soyuz mission. (18220.l2.0, Jerry Elliott Collection, OHS)

Commemorative plaque to symbolize cooperation between US and the Soviets. (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Skylab Program


Skylab (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Skylab was America's first space station. It launched on May 14, 1973, and orbited the Earth until July 11, 1979.

Owen Garriott of Enid, Oklahoma, was the scientist pilot for Skylab 3, which launched July 28, 1973. He and the crew did experiments and made repairs. William Pogue from Sand Springs, Oklahoma was the command module pilot for Skylab 4, which launched November 16, 1973. Pogue participated in two spacewalks.

Skylab II mission patch. (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Skylab 4 mission patch. (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Space Shuttle Program and the International Space Station


Space shuttle Columbia. (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

The space shuttle was America's first reusable spacecraft. NASA built five, but two were lost in accidents.

Owen Garriott became the first person to operate a HAM radio from space on the STS-9 mission, which launched November 28, 1983.

Shannon Lucid flew on many shuttle missions and spent a lot of time on the International Space Station.

John Herrington performed three spacewalks while on the STS-113 mission which launched on the shuttle Endeavor on November 23, 2002.

STS-9 patch. (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

STS-113 patch. (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

STS-4 patch. Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (59)

Space shuttle launch. (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)



Space Main Page
Background
Biographies
Programs
Glossary
Activities
Bibliography