The Final 32 Candidates for the Mercury Manned Space Program - 1959


Mercury Astronaut Selection

02-07-1959 Captain Corbett called to DC for astronaut interview and testing.

03-14-1959 Lovelace Clinic with Captain Tom Bogan, USAF.

03-23-1959 Wright-Patterson Stress Testing with Air Force Captains, Tom
Bogan, Frank Frazier, Navy LT Scott Carpenter, Marine Major John
Glenn, and Marine Captain Bob Solliday.

Project Mercury

United States

First Manned Space Missions

150px_spacer mercury_captain_corbett

Captain Richard Corbett

United States Air Force

Test Pilot

March 1959


High Altitude Low Pressure


This is me suited up in a partial pressure suit which we used on flights above 50K feet. This is before we got the full pressure suits like when I was on exchange with the Navy.  I am shown entering the pressure chamber where the pressure was reduced to 100K feet and I had to stay there for one hour.  You have to reverse breath (100 percent oxegen is forced into your lungs and you it takes substantial force to exhale it) this becomes quite painful after a very few minutes.  I remember thinking I can make it another 2 or 3 minutes, then another, until I finally made it to an hour. 

Centrifuge at 12g


This is me during the stress testing for Mercury in March 1959.  I am getting in the centrifuge in a prone position.  During this I was spun at 12 gs. Having 12 times your weight pressing down on you is very painful. 

They wanted to measure lung capacity at specific g-levels. When they signaled, you were to take as deep a breath as possible, open the the valve (in your left hand), exhale "maximally" into the Respirometer, then quickly re-close the valve. In my right hand I am holding a button which shows I'm still conscious when I press it. 


Equilibrium Test

The “Equilibrium Test” is where you are "flying" a seat. The neutral point of the stick constantly changed as the seat was in continuous motion. You kept the seat level by constantly moving the stick. This was a piece of cake until you were blindfolded. Amazingly I could still stay upright and relatively stable.

During the treadmill test Grissom exceeded 180 heartbeats per minute and was stopped by the doctors. Mine got to 166 and I was stopped only when I continued well past the time considered normal for my age.