Brother of astronaut Gus Grissom excited for NASA-SpaceX launch


ST. LOUIS – The historic SpaceX launch set for Wednesday will have to wait until Saturday – scrubbed because of the weather. And you can guarantee that Lowell Grissom will be watching.

“It’s very exciting,” said Lowell Grissom, brother of astronaut Gus Grissom. “Now that we’ve got an American rocket and spacecraft that’s going to be launched from American soil. The only thing that could make it any better would be a safe and successful flight.”

His brother Gus made American history in outer space. Virgil “Gus” Grissom was a member of NASA’s Mercury program.

A respected World War II and Korean War pilot and project Gemini and Apollo astronaut, Gus Grissom died in a fire during a pre-launch test along with astronauts Roger Chaffee and Ed White.

“Gus was chosen as one of the original Mercury astronauts. He made the second suborbital flight and became the first American to go into space when he commanded the Gemini flight as command pilot of that,” Lowell said. “He was scheduled to go into space for the third time as commander of the Apollo 1 spacecraft when the tragic accident on the launchpad happened.”

Lowell says his big brother would be interested in how lightweight the SpaceX and NASA spacesuits have become compared to the early days of the space program.

“We always had one black and white TV but when there was a launch, we would have three TVs on all the different stations,” said John Grissom, Lowell’s son and Gus’ nephew.

Lowell says Gus spent the summer of 1964 in St. Louis while the Gemini craft was built. Gus had so much input on the design of the spacecraft, according to Lowell.

Lowell and John will be watching Saturday’s potential launch, the first from United States soil since 2011. And he’ll keep his brother’s memory alive of all he accomplished and who he was in a short lifetime.

“I think Gus would probably say it’s about damn time we got an American spacecraft with American astronauts in it,” Grissom said. “I think it’s a matter of national pride that we have things we can look to and people that are heroes. We don’t have so many heroes and we need those.”

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