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Official portrait of Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper
Remembering Gordon Cooper

October 4, 2004

NASA mourns the loss of Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper, who rocketed into space in his Faith 7 capsule on May 15, 1963 (above, right). Cooper, the youngest of the Original Seven Mercury astronauts, died at his California home on Oct. 4, 2004 at the age of 77.

Cooper's Mercury flight set a U.S. endurance record at the time, and he became the first astronaut to sleep in space during his 34 hour, 22 orbit mission. In 1965, Cooper commanded the Gemini 5 mission alongside Pete Conrad, establishing a new space endurance record at the time, travelling 3,312,993 miles in 190 hours and 56 minutes.

Norris Gray, the NASA Fire Chief and Emergency Preparedness Officier during the Mercury days echoes what many are saying about the space pioneer: "He never said 'you can't do it.' He was gung ho on everything."

Photo Credit: NASA

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Page Last Updated: September 27th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator