July 31, 2013
Astro Mad Men: NASA’s 1960s Campaign to Win America’s Heart

After successfully completing the flight that would make him the first American to orbit the Earth, John Glenn gave a speech at his hometown high school. His old teachers, the astronaut joked, would be “very surprised” to learn, as news accounts had it, that he had “received straight A’s all through school.” His football teammates would be similarly shocked to learn that even while Glenn had sat on the bench, they had sought guidance from him about gaining “a few more yards.” The people who knew John Glenn, The Guy before he became John Glenn, The Astronaut, the newly minted hero suggested, must be amazed to read all the gushing accounts of their classmate’s various “prowesses.”
Glenn was poking fun at the inevitable trajectories of heroism: the wide-eyed exaggerations, the casual polishings, the careful erosions of inconvenient facts. But he was poking fun, more specifically, at a legal document: a contract between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Life magazine. One that sold the Mercury astronauts’ life stories to the media outlet, exclusively. In exchange for this, Life agreed to obtain NASA’s approval before publishing images of and/or writings about the astronauts. And it agreed to pay for the privilege — a sum that reportedly amounted to, in 1959 currency, some $25,000 per astronaut, per year. That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars in today’s money. 
Read more. [Image: Life]

Astro Mad Men: NASA’s 1960s Campaign to Win America’s Heart

After successfully completing the flight that would make him the first American to orbit the Earth, John Glenn gave a speech at his hometown high school. His old teachers, the astronaut joked, would be “very surprised” to learn, as news accounts had it, that he had “received straight A’s all through school.” His football teammates would be similarly shocked to learn that even while Glenn had sat on the bench, they had sought guidance from him about gaining “a few more yards.” The people who knew John Glenn, The Guy before he became John Glenn, The Astronaut, the newly minted hero suggested, must be amazed to read all the gushing accounts of their classmate’s various “prowesses.”

Glenn was poking fun at the inevitable trajectories of heroism: the wide-eyed exaggerations, the casual polishings, the careful erosions of inconvenient facts. But he was poking fun, more specifically, at a legal document: a contract between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Life magazine. One that sold the Mercury astronauts’ life stories to the media outlet, exclusively. In exchange for this, Life agreed to obtain NASA’s approval before publishing images of and/or writings about the astronauts. And it agreed to pay for the privilege — a sum that reportedly amounted to, in 1959 currency, some $25,000 per astronaut, per year. That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars in today’s money.

Read more. [Image: Life]

  1. capndaniel reblogged this from imperialgoogie and added:
    It should be noted that when the 7 began training, America’s rockets had a 50% failure rate. The $25K and the adulation...
  2. imperialgoogie reblogged this from jimmyjazzbass and added:
    Wow, twenty-five grand for playing with rockets.
  3. jimmyjazzbass reblogged this from theatlantic
  4. seejulesvernerun reblogged this from lettersfromtitan
  5. lettersfromtitan reblogged this from patrickdijusto
  6. patrickdijusto reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    Always put the handsomest guy in the center.
  7. hardcoredivision reblogged this from theatlantic
  8. go2uttyler reblogged this from theatlantic
  9. sci-bsiokbe reblogged this from theatlantic
  10. jezebuilt reblogged this from theatlantic
  11. invictascientia reblogged this from theatlantic
  12. t1extch1x reblogged this from theatlantic
  13. lesoleildugal reblogged this from theatlantic
  14. marcjoh reblogged this from theatlantic
  15. heather413 reblogged this from theatlantic
  16. ievenflow reblogged this from theatlantic
  17. spivey313 reblogged this from theatlantic
  18. tr0tskitty reblogged this from theatlantic
  19. econdry reblogged this from theatlantic
  20. missflower reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    Reblog for space and John Glenn (who is the most adorable former senator with the greatest political marriage of all...
  21. aleams reblogged this from theatlantic