From the S&S archives: Cooper unruffled by re-entry hitch, Glenn says
TOKYO — Astronaut L. Gordon Cooper showed absolutely "no fear or apprehension'' during his 22-orbit flight around earth when his automatic device for firing Faith 7's retro-rockets failed and he had to fire them by hand.
That's the expert opinion of fellow Astronaut. John H. Glenn Jr. and Dr. Stuart Raglan, Jr., of the Naval Air Development Center, Johnstown, Pa.
Both were in radio contact with Cooper from the communications ship Coastal Sentry 300 miles south of Japan in the Japan Sea.
In fact, Glenn relayed step-by-step instructions to Cooper to "aid" him during the dangerous re-entry into the earth's atmosphere that ended Cooper's space spectacular. Earlier, Cooper had slept for 8 hours on his ride.
Glenn, America's first spaceman, and Raglan discussed some of the medical details of Cooper's flight at a. 90-minute news conference at Tokyo's Hotel Okura Monday.
Glenn and his family Tuesday launched themselves on a 12-day vacation — a semi-official visit to Japan.
Glenn described his role in the now famous "countdown" for Cooper's re-entry as "a little assist from the ground." but emphasized Cooper was "fully capable of doing it himself, as we all are."
"I know from experience," Glenn said, "it's good to hear a friendly voice from the ground."
Glenn also said Cooper's use of "pep pills" during his flight marked the first time an American spaceman has taken medicine while in orbit.
Raglan described the pills as dextro amphetamine sulphate, a drug sold to sharpen the reactions of sleepy people and most commonly known as "No-Doz tablets" in the U.S.
He said American astronauts also carry other drugs, one to combat the effects of motion sickness and the other, morphine, a pain killer for emergencies.
"Even astronauts Can get seasick," Raglan said.
Glenn's 17-year-old son, David, and Glenn's wife, Annie, also came in for their share of newsmen's questions during the conference,
David told newsmen he is "very interested'' in what his father does, but explained, "I still don't know what I really want to do" in answer to whether he would also eventually become a spaceman.
Glenn's wife, Annie, asked what she hoped to see and experience in Japan, told a Japanese newsman, "I want to see everything ... family life ... we want to see our fill."
During other portions of the news conference, Glenn said:
1) As far as he knows crews for Gemini and Apollo spaceships have not been selected.
2) It has not. yet been decided whether astronauts will be removed from their respective branches of the Armed Forces and be made Civil Service employees of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
3) Russia's secrecy about her space flights makes it impossible to tell whether there is missile gap between the U.S. and Soviet Russia and noted American space flight data is available to Japanese scientists.
Tuesday Glenn and his family left Tokyo for Hakone National Park, 50 miles west of the world's largest city.
En route to Hakone, Glenn stopped at Matsudamachi in Kanagawa Prefecture to thank 78-year-old Tokuzo Shibuya for the gift of a Shinto prayer tablet that Shibuya sent Glenn before his history-making space flight in Friendship 7.
The family then boarded Japan's superexpress train for a 30-minute trial run, along with 50 Japanese orphans.
Throughout his sightseeing trip to the Osaka-Kyoto region and Shikoku Island, Glenn's program calls for meetings with the press and discussions with scientists and students.
The astronaut said he told his wife and children he wants then to "learn something of Japanese culture."
They are scheduled to leave for the U.S. at 9:50 p,m., May 31, aboard a commercial jetliner.