Nevada Appeal at 150: Oct. 3, 1962: Schirra plucked from Pacific to end longest space flight

Schirra plucked from Pacific to end longest space flight

Aboard Kearsarge (UPI) — Walter M. Schirra Jr., 39, completed the most triumphant space flight in U.S. history by landing safely in the Pacific at 2:28 p.m. today.

Schirra and his Sigma 7 scored a bull’s-eye in the pre planned recovery area splashing down 9 hours and 13 minutes after rocketing into the sky from Cape Canaveral. He radioed that he was “in fine shape.”

This carrier and its planes and six-destroyer escort were on hand in calm seas and fine weather to pluck Schirra from the water.

Schirra elected to stay in his capsule until recovery. He came down only about 9,000 yards from the Kearsarge, a whaleboat put out from the carrier to go alongside the bobbing spacecraft.

Schirra assured his rescuers that he was “very comfortable.” He called the spacecraft “a sweet little bird.”

Schirra and his Sigma 7 spacecraft had whirled around the world six times along a space trail 160,000 miles long. His journey was twice as long a previous U.S. orbital flights. It blazed the trail for flights of 17 or 18 orbits next year.

The big moment of the flight for Schirra came toward the end of his third orbit. That was when space officials told him to try for six. The two previous orbital flights by Americans had ended after three orbits with splashdowns in the Atlantic.

This continues the Appeal’s review of news stories and headlines during its Sesquicentennial year.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment