Picture Archive: First Seven Astronauts, 1962
Test pilots took on the job of going beyond Earth's atmosphere and into outer space.
This July 1962 official NASA photograph from Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, shows Astronaut Group I in their official gear. Meant to be worn inside a capsule, their silver suits were made mostly of neoprene rubber and aluminized Mylar, built on the same basic principles as airplane-test-pilot suits. Boots, gloves, and helmets were also issued as part of their in-flight safety equipment.
On May 5, 1961, Alan B. Shepard (back, far left) made it into space—and back—just 23 days after Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to do so. Less than a year later, John Glenn (front, second from right) became the first American to orbit the Earth. By the last of the six