So this day in space was the last flight of the Mercury program in 1963 which orbited earth for 34 hours and 20 minutes. It was also the longest flight of the Mercury program as well as the last solo space flight. It was also the first time an astronaut slept in space and the first time an astronaut manually piloted the space craft back to earth, interestingly it was also the most accurate landing at that time landing just 4 miles away from the recovery ship.
I find this article interesting because of how many firsts and lasts it had in it’s mission. I think it also showed us how important it is to have human backups to machines and computers. While computers are wonderful and quite possibly the greatest invention of the 20th century they can, and do, fail all the time so having a thinking and reasoning human at the helm of space craft such as this is of monumental importance. I think the fact that it was the last solo flight was probably also a very good thing because we as humans are social creatures and we need other people or beings to share our time and space with. I know several people who live “alone” with their pets and those pets are their social interactions to a great extent, but even people who associate with only animals can have serious mental health problems develop as a result of that isolation. We all need other people in our lives to make us feel safe and loved and cared for. Having solo space flights had to be terribly lonely and terribly painful if it extended any significant amount of time. It reminds of the Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, and Laurence Fishburn movie Passengers. Chris Pratt’s character wakes up alone on a colonization ship 90 years too early and there is no one around except robots and his loneliness nearly drives him to suicide. Wonderful movie though it really is and I recommend everyone take the chance to watch it.
So that got a little off topic but I thought this was a cool space history fact and wanted to share.