Leroy Gordon Cooper


Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).

Date of Birth: March 6, 1927

Oklahoma Connection: Born in Shawnee, Oklahoma

Missions:
Faith 7 (part of the Mercury program)
Gemini 5

Leroy Cooper’s nickname was Gordo. His grandmother came to Oklahoma in the 1880s and lived long enough to see him go to space. By age eight Cooper could fly the family airplane. He joined the Marines in World War II and transferred to the Air Force in 1949. NASA selected him to be an astronaut in 1959.During re-entry to earth on the Faith 7, the automatic controls failed and he had to manually take over flying. He landed successfully. Cooper helped prove humans can survive in space long enough for a round trip to the moon while on the Gemini 5. He spent 222 total hours in space. Leroy Cooper died on October 4, 2004.


Mercury 7 astronauts.Leroy Cooper is second from the left. Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).


Mercury astronauts. Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).


The original Mercury astronauts; Leroy Cooper is sitting to the far right. Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration, nasa.gov (accessed January 16, 2013).


Oklahoma Senator Kerr with Leroy Gordon Cooper (middle), (22668.2, Carter Bradley Collection, Oklahoma Historical Society Research Division).


Leroy Gordon Cooper “Welcome Back to Earth” button (2003.095.004, Bill Moore Collection, Oklahoma Historical Society Collections).

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