Lot 9072: Rare ALS signed "Virgil," one page both sides, 8 x 10, Project Mercury letterhead, January 8, 1961. Letter to his brother and sister-in-law, "Lowell & Bobette." In part: "From what Mom says it looks as if you will be going to work at Mac. Old man McDonald expects big things from his new automation center, he especially expects it to grow rapidly so I think that you are probably getting into the department at about the right time. I usually get out to the plant about once a month so you can expect to have some company once in a while." In fine condition, with intersecting folds. This letter dates to five months before America's first manned mission while Grissom and the other Mercury Seven astronauts—who are listed on this fantastic letterhead—were conducting their intensive training. McDonnell Aircraft was the prime contractor for the Mercury and Gemini capsules, and Gus Grissom's younger brother Lowell joined the team in 1961. The elder Grissom piloted his first flight seven months after this letter on July 21, 1961, becoming the second American in space. Following this mission, Gus worked closely with McDonnell on the design of the Gemini spacecraft. They modeled the initial capsule after him, but due to his short stature most of the other astronauts could not fit inside and the cockpits had to be redesigned. During this same time, he developed the multi-axis controller used to direct the spacecraft for rendezvous and docking. Handwritten letters by Grissom are scarce, and as an early example concerning a company essential to developing NASA's technology this is an exceedingly desirable example.
RR Auction's Space and Aviation Auction 463
Thursday, 22nd October 2015
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