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See NASA's Wanted Poster for the First Astronauts

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The Project Mercury Astronauts. They are: front row, left to right, Walter H. Schirra, Jr., Donald K. Slayton, John H. Glenn, Jr., and Scott Carpenter; back row, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Virgil I. Gus Grissom, and L. Gordon Cooper. The Project Mercury Astronauts. They are: front row, left to right, Walter H. Schirra, Jr., Donald K. Slayton, John H. Glenn, Jr., and Scott Carpenter; back row, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Virgil I. Gus Grissom, and L. Gordon Cooper. NASA

On April 9, 1959, NASA announced the selection of the first astronauts, later immortalized as the “Mercury Seven.” Last week, some 54 years later, the National Archives reminded us of what specifically it meant to have the “right stuff” on it’s “Todays Document” blog.  

See the original document below and read the description of the ideal astronaut:

Position Title: Mercury Astronaut 

Duties: 

Participates in indoctrination, developmental research, and pre-flight training programs under conditions simulating flight profiles of the type expected to be encountered with Project Mercury. Operates and/or observes fixed-base and moving-base simulator tests, serves as subject-under-test, and assists in the analysis of data for the evaluation and development of various boosters and of communication, telemetry, display, vehicle-control, environmental-control and other systems involved in launch, atmospheric escape, orbital flight, reentry, landing and recovery. Participates in specialized training exercises such as centrifuge programs to build up tolerances to the motions and forces associated with launch, flight without out gravity, and atmospheric reentry, and to develop proficiency and confidence for vehicle operation under such conditions. 

Mark Micheli is Special Projects Editor for Government Executive Media Group. He's the editor of Excellence in Government Online and contributes to GovExec, NextGov and Defense One. Previously, he worked on national security and emergency management issues with the US Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security. He's a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and studied at Drake University.

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