L. Gordon Cooper

March 6, 1927 - October 4, 2004

Colonel, U.S. Air Force (Retired)
Born March 6, 1927, Shawnee, Oklahoma
Bachelor of Science, U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology
Doctorate of Science in Aeronautical Engineering,
Oklahoma City University

About the Man

L. Gordon Cooper attended primary and secondary schools in Shawnee, Oklahoma and Murray, Kentucky. After completing three years of schooling at the University of Hawaii, he received an Army commission. He then transferred his commission to the US Air Force, and they placed him on active duty in 1949. The Air Force also gave him his flight training.

Cooper flew F-84s and F-86s for four years with the 86th Fighter Bomber Group in Munich, Germany. Upon his return to the US, he studied for two years at the Air Force Institute of Technology, and in 1956, Cooper received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering.

After graduating in 1957 from the Air Force Experimental Flight Test School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Cooper became an aeronautical engineer and test pilot. His job responsibilities included flight-testing experimental fighter aircraft. Flying all types of commercial and general aviation airplane and helicopters, Cooper logged more than 7,000 hours flying time, 4,000 of those hours in jet aircraft. NASA would eventually give Leroy Gordon Cooper a chance to fly in space.

About the Spaceflights

Mercury 9 (Faith)

May 15-16, 1963

On May 15-16, 1963, Astronaut L. Gordon Cooper made his historical Mercury space flight. He gave his Mercury capsule the name Faith. It would be the first time man would spend a full day in space, in orbit around the Earth, weightless. Cooper orbited the earth twenty-two times, traveling at a speed of 17,546 miles per hour. His space flight lasted for just over thirty-four hours.

A complete success, the Mercury program ended with Astronaut Cooper's momentous 'day' in space. As Cooper and the other astronauts proved, man could function as a pilot, an engineer, and a researcher, in the hazardous conditions of space.

Flight Duration: One Day, Ten Hours, Nineteen Minutes, and Forty-Nine Seconds

Ambitious Mission - Cooper Orbits the Earth 22 Times

Gemini 5

Aug. 21 to 29, 1965

Astronaut Cooper went into space for the second time on board Gemini V on Aug. 21, 1965, along with Astronaut Charles Pete Conrad, Jr. The two astronauts orbited the earth 120 times on an eight-day flight. They used fuel cells for electrical power for the first time. The Gemini V astronauts also evaluated the guidance and navigation system for future rendezvous missions.

Traveling a distance of 3,312,993 miles on their eight-day mission, Astronauts Cooper and Conrad established a new space endurance record. Cooper was the first astronaut to make a second flight into space. He took the lead for the US in hours spent in space, 225 hours and 15 minutes.

Flight Duration: Seven days, Twenty-Two hours, Fifty-Five Minutes, and Fourteen Seconds

Godspeed to Gordy and 'Scotty'!

photo of the rocket courtesy of Space.com

The remains of astronaut Gordon Cooper, as well as the ashes of James Doohan, who played chief engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott on the original "Star Trek" TV series, were launched into space on Saturday, April 28, 2997, aboard a Spaceloft XL rocket, in New Mexico. Charles Chafer is the chief executive of Celestis, a Texas company that contracts with rocket firms to send cremated remains into space. Gordon Cooper died on October 4, 2004, at the age of 77. James Doohan died on July 20, 2005, at the age of 85. The remains of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry were blasted into space in 1997.


Click on the patches to read about L. Gordon Cooper's spaceflights
in more detail at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Website




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