National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Houston, Texas 77058
NAME: Virgil I. Grissom (Lieutenant Colonel, USAF) NASA Astronaut
- NASA Astronaut
- Born April 3, 1926, in Mitchell,
Indiana, where his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Grissom, reside.
- Brown hair; brown eyes; height:
5 feet 7 inches; weight: 150 pounds.
- Graduated from Mitchell High School; received a
Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University.
- Married to the former Betty L. Moore of Mitchell, Indiana.
- Scott, May 16, 1950; Mark, December 30, 1953.
- Enjoys hunting, fishing, skiing, and boating.
- Member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
- Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air
Medal with Cluster for his Korean service; two NASA Distinguished
Service Medals and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal; the Air Force
Command Astronaut Wings.
- Grissom, an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, received
his wings in March 1951. He flew 100 combat missions in Korea in F-86s
with the 334th Fighter Interceptor Squadron and, upon returning to the
United States in 1952, became a jet instructor.
In August 1955, he entered the Air Force Institute of Technology at
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to study aeronautical engineering.
He attended the Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California,
in October 1956 and returned to Wright-Patterson in May 1957 as a test
pilot assigned to the fighter branch.
He has logged 4,600 hours flying time, 3,500 hours in jet aircraft.
- Lieutenant Colonel Grissom was one of the
seven Mercury astronauts selected by NASA in April 1959. He piloted the Liberty
Bell 7 spacecraft, the second and final suborbital Mercury test flight, on
July 21, 1961. This flight lasted 15 minutes and 37 seconds, attained an altitude
of 118 statute miles, and traveled 302 miles downrange from the launch pad at
On March 23, 1965, he served as command pilot on the first manned Gemini flight, a
three-orbit mission, during which the crew accomplished the first orbital
trajectory modifications and the first lifting reentry of a manned spacecraft.
Subsequent to this assignment, he served as backup command pilot for Gemini 6.
He was named to serve as command pilot for the first three-man Apollo
flight (Apollo I).
Gus Grissom and fellow astronauts Ed White and Roger Chaffee met their
deaths on January 27, 1967, at Cape Kennedy, Florida, when a flash fire
consumed their spacecraft during a full-scale simulation in preparation
for the subsequently scheduled launch of their Saturn/Apollo mission.
ARCHIVAL BIOGRAPHY LAST UPDATED FEBRUARY 1967
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