Remarkable vintage glossy 9 x 7 black and white photo of the Mercury 7 posing with rocket and capsule models during their introductory press conference on April 9, 1959, signed in various ink types, "Wally Schirra," "Alan Shepard," "Gus Grissom," "D. K. Slayton," "John Glenn," "Scott Carpenter," and "Gordon Cooper." Upper border of photo annotated by an unknown hand in black ink, "U. S. Govt: 5, 7 Future US. Astronauts, 4-9-59." Reverse bears an affixed press caption and an United Press International Photo credit stamp. In fine condition, with mild rippling and fading to Grissom's signature. Only six months after NASA's birth, the agency introduced its first class of astronauts: the Mercury Seven. Held in Washington in early April 1959, the press conference introduced the world to a group of men who would become household names and genuine American heroes. Six of the original seven flew missions for the Mercury program, with the lone exception being Deke Slayton, who was diagnosed in 1962 with an erratic heart rhythm and grounded from flight by NASA and the Air Force; he made his spaceflight debut when he served as the docking module pilot for the historic Apollo-Soyuz test Project in 1975. The Mercury flights not only proved that humans could live and work in space, but paved the way for the Gemini and Apollo programs as well as for all further human spaceflight. A sensational, fully signed photo representing the day the world first learned of the Mercury 7. From The Bill Lende Collection.
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