I can’t believe I missed this. I report science on FoxCT and didn’t even notice today was the 50th anniversary of America’s first man in space, Alan Shepard. He went a little under 200 miles downrange–a disappointment. The Russians had already launched and recovered Yuri Gagarin from an orbital flight.
It was a different time. The cold war was well underway. No love was lost between us and the Soviet Union. We were obviously behind–far behind.
Shepard was “Spam in a can,” more passenger than pilot. He was still a hero.
In reporting the Freedom 7 flight, the press attributed the term to Astronaut Shepard, and indeed NASA News Release 1-61-99, May 5, 1961, has Shepard report “A.OK” shortly after impact. A replay of the flight voice communications tape disclosed that Shepard himself did not use the term. It was Col. John A. “Shorty” Powers who reported Shepard’s condition as “A.OK” in a description of the flight. Tecwyn Roberts of STG and Capt. Henry E. Clements of the Air Force had used “A.OK” frequently in reports written more than four months before the Shepard flight.” – NASA history project
There was excitement over the space program back then. Not so today.