An astronaut named Gus

Gus Grissom never seemed to fit the archetypal American hero mold. A stocky and somewhat stubby man who stood at 5 feet 7 inches, he looked more like the neighborhood motor mechanic or television repairman than an astronaut. But he excelled as an Air Force test pilot and as a Mercury astronaut, becoming an integral part of NASA’s drive to the Moon. While he may not have been the most sociable or loquacious member of the astro­naut group, he was well respected by them. “Gus was a very bright young man who didn’t have a lot to say most of the time,” fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter told the author in 2013, “but when he said something it was of great value and always worth listening to.”1