The first seven were given the name “Mercury Seven” because the first American space program was called Mercury. The American media paid more attention to their private lives than to their previous careers.
On this day the U.S. space agency NASA selected the first seven astronauts in its history. They almost immediately became American national heroes, even before they even took off into space. Namely, they were so popular in the media that their legendary status in the United States remained to this day. The first seven were given the name “Mercury Seven” because the first American space program was called Mercury.
How were the astronauts chosen? NASA first made a big selection. At first, it was wanted to include all Americans in the competition, but U.S. President Eisenhower insisted to take into consideration only test pilots. Approximately 500 U.S. military test pilots signed up for the competition. The initial conditions were that the height of the candidate must not be greater than 180 cm, and weight over 82 kg. Of course, the reason for this was the limited room in space capsules. Those candidates who met the conditions underwent extensive and vigorous testing. For example, they were given an enema five times, and castor oil three times. For hours they were subjected to the tests of their response to changing body positions (it was checked whether they easily fall into unconsciousness). They were exposed to physical strain on treadmills and immersion of legs in ice water.
On this day, NASA chose seven out of the 18 people who passed the tests. Apparently all seven had a genius-level IQ. Of course, they were in excellent physical condition. It is interesting that the American media paid more attention to their private lives than to their previous careers. All seven were married, and all were in their thirties (the youngest, Gordon Cooper, was 32 and the oldest, John Glenn, 38 years old).
Here is a list of all first seven astronauts: