July 22, 1961 – Gus Grissom becomes 2nd American astronaut in space
Gus Grissom, a native of Mitchell, Indiana, became just the second American to reach space on July 22, 1961. He was born April 3, 1926, and perished with two colleagues on the launch test-pad on January 27, 1967.
“Following the splashdown of “Liberty Bell 7″, the hatch, which had explosive bolts, blew off prematurely, letting water into the capsule and into Grissom’s suit. Grissom nearly drowned but was rescued by helicopter, while the spacecraft sank in deep water. Grissom maintained he did nothing to set off the explosives to blow the hatch, and NASA officials agreed. The craft was recovered in 1999 but there was no evidence of how the hatch had been opened. However, later experience showed that the force necessary to trigger the initiator for the explosive egress system would leave a major bruise, and Grissom had no such injury.”
- Gus Grissom: The Lost Astronaut by Ray E. Boomhower