Mercury-Atlas 8 was a Mercury program manned space mission launched on October 3, 1962. The spacecraft was named Sigma 7 and completed six earth orbits piloted by astronaut Wally Schirra. It was the first flawless Mercury mission.
Number in parentheses indicates number of spaceflights by each individual prior to and including this mission.
Schirra's was the first of two longer-duration Mercury missions. After Carpenter's flawed reentry, the emphasis returned to engineering rather than science (Schirra even named his spacecraft "Sigma
" for the engineering symbol meaning "summation.") The six-orbit mission lasted nine hours and 13 minutes, much of which Schirra spent in what he called "chimp configuration," a free drift that tested the Mercury's autopilot system. Schirra also tried "steering" by the stars (he found this difficult), took photographs with a Hasselblad camera, exercised with a bungeecord device, saw lightning in the atmosphere, broadcast the first live message from an American spacecraft to radio and TV listeners below, and made the first splashdown in the Pacific.
Shortly after reaching orbit Schirra's suit began overheating. The flight surgeon monitoring the suit was concerned enough that mission control considered aborting the remainder of the mission. Schirra was able to adjust coolant flow for his suit and corrected the problem.
This was the highest flight of the Mercury program, with an apogee of 283.24km (176mi), but Schirra later claimed to be unimpressed with space scenery as compared to the view from high-flying aircraft. "Same old deal, nothing new," he told debriefers after the flight. Sigma 7 landed near the international date line in the Pacific Ocean, 275 miles (440 km) NE of Midway Island. The landing coordinates were near .
Mercury spacecraft # 16 - Sigma 7, used in the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission, is currently displayed at the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame, Titusville, Florida.
During the course of the mission, Schirra revealed his membership in the Ancient Order of Turtles
- http://history.nasa.gov/SP-12/app.1.htm Transcript of air to ground communications during mission.