The Right Stuff (film)

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The Right Stuff
Right stuff ver1.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Philip Kaufman
Written byPhilip Kaufman
Based on The Right Stuff
by Tom Wolfe
Produced by
Cinematography Caleb Deschanel
Edited by
Music by Bill Conti
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • October 16, 1983 (1983-10-16)(Kennedy Center)
  • October 21, 1983 (1983-10-21)(United States)
Running time
192 minutes [1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$27 million
Box office$21.1 million (domestic only) [2]

The Right Stuff is a 1983 American epic historical drama film written and directed by Philip Kaufman and based on the 1979 book of the same name by Tom Wolfe. The film follows the Navy, Marine, and Air Force test pilots who were involved in aeronautical research at Edwards Air Force Base, California, as well as the Mercury Seven, the seven military pilots who were selected to be the astronauts for Project Mercury, the first human spaceflight by the United States. The film stars Sam Shepard, Ed Harris, Scott Glenn, Fred Ward, Dennis Quaid, and Barbara Hershey; Levon Helm narrates and plays Air Force test pilot Jack Ridley.


The Right Stuff was a box-office bomb, grossing about $21 million (domestically) against a $27 million budget. Despite this, it received widespread critical acclaim, and was nominated for eight Oscars at the 56th Academy Awards, four of which it won. The film was a huge success on the home video market. In 2013, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". [3] The film was ranked #19 on the American Film Institute's most inspiring movies.

The film was later expanded into its titular franchise, including a television series and a documentary film.


In 1947, over the Muroc Army Air Field in California, a number of test pilots are killed while flying high-speed aircraft such as the rocket-powered Bell X-1. After another pilot, Slick Goodlin, demands $150,000 (equivalent to $1,966,000in 2022) to attempt to break the sound barrier, war hero Captain Chuck Yeager receives the chance to fly the X-1. While on a horseback ride with his wife Glennis, Yeager collides with a tree branch and breaks his ribs, which inhibits him from leaning over and locking the door to the X-1. Worried that he might not fly the mission, Yeager confides in friend and fellow pilot Jack Ridley. Ridley cuts off part of a broomstick and tells Yeager to use it as a lever to help seal the hatch to the X-1, and Yeager becomes the first person to fly at supersonic speed, defeating the "demon in the sky".

Six years later, Muroc, now Edwards Air Force Base, still attracts the best test pilots. Yeager (now a major) and friendly rival Scott Crossfield repeatedly break one another's speed records. They often visit the Happy Bottom Riding Club run by Pancho Barnes, who classifies the pilots at Edwards as either "prime" (such as Yeager and Crossfield) that fly the best equipment or newer "pudknockers" who only dream about it. Gordon "Gordo" Cooper, Virgil "Gus" Grissom and Donald "Deke" Slayton, captains of the United States Air Force, are among the "pudknockers" who hope to also prove that they have "the Right Stuff". The tests are no longer secret, as the military soon recognizes that it needs good publicity for funding, and with "no bucks, no Buck Rogers". Cooper's wife, Trudy, and other wives are afraid of becoming widows, but cannot change their husbands' ambitions and desire for success and fame.

In 1957, the launch of the Russian Sputnik satellite alarms the United States government. Politicians such as Senator Lyndon B. Johnson and military leaders demand that NASA help America defeat the Russians in the new Space Race. The search for the first Americans in space excludes Yeager because he lacks a college degree. Grueling physical and mental tests select the Mercury Seven astronauts, including John Glenn of the United States Marine Corps, Alan Shepard, Walter Schirra and Scott Carpenter of the United States Navy, as well as Cooper, Grissom and Slayton; they immediately become national heroes. Although many early NASA rockets explode during launch, the ambitious astronauts all hope to be the first in space as part of Project Mercury. Although engineers see the men as passengers, the pilots insist that the Mercury spacecraft have a window, a hatch with explosive bolts, and pitch-yaw-roll controls. However, Russia beats them into space on April 12, 1961, with the launch of Vostok 1 carrying Yuri Gagarin. The seven astronauts are determined to match and surpass the Russians.

Shepard is the first American to reach space on the 15-minute sub-orbital flight of Mercury-Redstone 3 on May 5. After Grissom's similar flight of Mercury-Redstone 4 on July 21, the capsule's hatch blows open and quickly fills with water. Grissom escapes, but the spacecraft, overweight with seawater, sinks. Many criticize Grissom for possibly panicking and opening the hatch prematurely. Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth on Mercury-Atlas 6 on February 20, 1962, surviving a possibly loose heat shield, and receives a ticker-tape parade. He, his colleagues, and their families become celebrities, including a gigantic celebration in the Sam Houston Coliseum to announce the opening of the Manned Space Center in Houston, despite Glenn's wife Annie's fear of public speaking due to a stutter.

Although test pilots at Edwards mock the Mercury program for sending "spam in a can" into space, they recognize that they are no longer the fastest men on Earth, and Yeager states that "it takes a special kind of man to volunteer for a suicide mission, especially when it's on national TV." While testing the new Lockheed NF-104A, Yeager attempts to set a new altitude record at the edge of space but is nearly killed in a high-speed ejection when his engine fails. Though seriously burned, after reaching the ground Yeager gathers up his parachute and walks to the ambulance, proving his worth.

On May 15, 1963, Cooper has a successful launch on Mercury-Atlas 9, ending the Mercury program. As the last American to fly into space alone, he "went higher, farther, and faster than any other American ... for a brief moment, Gordo Cooper became the greatest pilot anyone had ever seen."


The following appeared as themselves in archive footage: Ed Sullivan with Bill Dana (in character as José Jiménez); Yuri Gagarin and Nikita Khrushchev embracing at a review, joined by Georgi Malenkov, Nikolai Bulganin, Kliment Voroshilov, and Anastas Mikoyan; Lyndon B. Johnson; John F. Kennedy; Alan Shepard (in Kennedy footage); and James E. Webb, director of NASA during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.



In 1979, independent producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler outbid Universal Pictures for the movie rights to Tom Wolfe's book, paying $350,000. [4] They hired William Goldman to write the screenplay. Goldman wrote in his memoirs that his adaptation focused on the astronauts, entirely ignoring Chuck Yeager. [5] Goldman was inspired to accept the job because he wanted to say something patriotic about America in the wake of the Iran hostage crisis. Winkler writes in his memoirs that he was disappointed that Goldman's adaptation ignored Yeager. [6]

In June 1980, United Artists agreed to finance the film up to $20 million, and the producers began looking for a director. Michael Ritchie was originally attached but fell through; so did John Avildsen who, four years prior, had won an Oscar for his work under Winkler and Chartoff on the original Rocky . (The Right Stuff would have reunited Avildsen with both producers, and also with a fourth Rocky veteran, composer Bill Conti.) [7]

Ultimately, Chartoff and Winkler approached director Philip Kaufman, who agreed to make the film, but did not like Goldman's script; Kaufman disliked the emphasis on patriotism, and wanted Yeager put back in the film. [8] Eventually, Goldman quit the project in August 1980, and United Artists pulled out.

When Wolfe showed no interest in adapting his own book, Kaufman wrote a draft in eight weeks. [4] His draft restored Yeager to the story, because "if you're tracing how the future began, the future in space travel, it began really with Yeager and the world of the test pilots. The astronauts descended from them." [9]

After the financial failure of Heaven's Gate , the studio put The Right Stuff in turnaround. Then The Ladd Company stepped in with an estimated $17 million.


Actor Ed Harris auditioned twice in 1981 for the role of John Glenn. Originally, Kaufman wanted to use a troupe of contortionists to portray the press corps, but settled on the improvisational comedy troupe Fratelli Bologna, known for its sponsorship of "St. Stupid's Day" in San Francisco. [10] The director created a locust-like chatter to accompany the press corps whenever they appear, which was achieved through a sound combination of (among other things) motorized Nikon cameras and clicking beetles. [10]

Professional American football player Anthony Muñoz has a minor role in the film as a hospital orderly named Gonzales; the soft-spoken Muñoz was asked to lip sync his lines, and a "deeper, gruffer voice" was dubbed over him in post-production. [11]


Most of the film was shot in and around San Francisco between March and October 1982, with additional filming continuing into January 1983. A waterfront warehouse there was transformed into a studio. [4] [Note 1] Location shooting took place primarily at the abandoned Hamilton Air Force Base north of San Francisco which was converted into a sound stage for the numerous interior sets. [12] No location could substitute for the distinctive Edwards Air Force Base landscape, so the entire production crew moved to the Mojave Desert to shoot the opening sequences that framed the story of the test pilots at Muroc Army Air Field, later Edwards AFB. [13] Additional shooting took place in California City in early 1983. During the filming of a sequence portraying Chuck Yeager's ejection from an NF-104, [14] stuntman Joseph Svec, a former Green Beret, was killed when he failed to open his parachute because he may have been unconscious from smoke. [15]

In 1982, the scene of the wives of the astronauts watching the television broadcast was filmed on military housing in Novato, California.

Yeager was hired as a technical consultant on the film. He took the actors flying, studied the storyboards and special effects, and pointed out the errors. To prepare for their roles, Kaufman gave the actors playing the seven astronauts an extensive videotape collection to study. [4]

The effort to make an authentic feature led to the use of many full-size aircraft, scale models and special effects to replicate the scenes at Edwards Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. [16] Special visual effects supervisor Gary Gutierrez said the first special effects were too clean for the desired "dirty, funky, early NASA look." [4] So Gutierrez and his team started from scratch, employing unconventional techniques, like going up a hill with model airplanes on wires and fog machines to create clouds, or shooting model F-104s from a crossbow device and capturing their flight with up to four cameras. [4] Avant garde filmmaker Jordan Belson created the background of the Earth as seen from high-flying planes and from orbiting spacecraft. [9]

Kaufman gave his five editors a list of documentary images he needed, sending them off to search for film from NASA, the Air Force and Bell Aircraft vaults. [4] They also discovered Russian stock footage not viewed in 30 years. During production, Kaufman met with resistance from the Ladd Company and threatened to quit several times. In December 1982, one reel of cut workprint of the film that included portions of John Glenn's flight disappeared from Kaufman's editing facility in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood. The missing reel of cut workprint was never found, but was reconstructed using a black and white duplicate copy of the reel as a guide and reprinting new workprint from the original negative, which was always safely in storage at the film lab.

Historical accuracy

Although The Right Stuff was based on historic events and real people, some substantial dramatic liberties were taken. Neither Yeager's flight in the X-1 to break the sound barrier early in the film or his later, nearly fatal flight in the NF-104A were spur-of-moment, capriciously decided events, as the film seems to imply – they actually were part of the routine testing program for both aircraft. Yeager had already test-flown both aircraft a number of times previously and was very familiar with them. [17] [18] [19] Jack Ridley had actually died in 1957, [20] even though his character appears in several key scenes taking place after that, most notably including Yeager's 1963 flight of the NF-104A.

The Right Stuff depicts Cooper arriving at Edwards in 1953, reminiscing with Grissom there about the two of them having supposedly flown together at the Langley Air Force Base and then hanging out with Grissom and Slayton, including all three supposedly being present at Edwards when Scott Crossfield flew at Mach 2 in November 1953. [21] The film shows the three of them being recruited together there for the astronaut program in late 1957, with Grissom supposedly expressing keen interest in becoming a "star-voyager". According to their respective NASA biographies, none of the three was posted to Edwards before 1955 (Slayton in 1955 [22] and Grissom and Cooper in 1956, [23] [24] ) and neither of the latter two had previously trained at Langley. By the time astronaut recruitment began in late 1957 after the Soviets had orbited Sputnik, Grissom had already left Edwards and returned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where he had served previously and was happy with his new assignment there. Grissom did not even know he was under consideration for the astronaut program until he received mysterious orders "out of the blue" to report to Washington in civilian clothing for what turned out to be a recruitment session for NASA. [23]

While the film took liberties with certain historical facts as part of "dramatic license", criticism focused on one: the portrayal of Gus Grissom panicking when his Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft sank following splashdown. Most historians, as well as engineers working for or with NASA and many of the related contractor agencies within the aerospace industry, are now convinced that the premature detonation of the spacecraft hatch's explosive bolts was caused by mechanical failure not associated with direct human error or deliberate detonation by Grissom. [Note 2] This determination had been made long before the film was completed. [25] Many astronauts, including Schirra, Cooper and Shepard, were critical of The Right Stuff for its treatment of Grissom, [26] [27] [28] who was killed in the Apollo 1 launch pad fire in January 1967 and thus unable to defend himself when the film was being made.

Other notable inaccuracies include: early termination of Glenn's flight after three orbits instead of seven (in reality, the flight was scheduled for at most three orbits); the engineers who built the Mercury craft are portrayed as Germans (in reality, they were mostly Americans). [9]

Film models

A replica of the Glamorous Glennis which was used in filming The Right Stuff. Now on display at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas. The same museum has the flown Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft on display. Kansas Cosmosphere Right Stuff Glamorous Glennis Replica 2013.JPG
A replica of the Glamorous Glennis which was used in filming The Right Stuff. Now on display at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas. The same museum has the flown Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft on display.

A large number of film models were assembled for the production; for the more than 80 aircraft appearing in the film, static mock-ups and models were used as well as authentic aircraft of the period. [29] Lieutenant Colonel Duncan Wilmore, USAF (Ret) acted as the United States Air Force liaison to the production, beginning his role as a technical consultant in 1980 when the pre-production planning had begun. The first draft of the script in 1980 had concentrated only on the Mercury 7, but as subsequent revisions developed the treatment into more of the original story that Wolfe had envisioned, the aircraft of the late-1940s that would have been seen at Edwards AFB were required. Wilmore gathered World War II era "prop" aircraft including:

The first group were mainly "set dressing" on the ramp while the Confederate Air Force (now renamed the Commemorative Air Force) B-29 "Fifi" was modified to act as the B-29 "mothership" to carry the Bell X-1 and X-1A rocket-powered record-breakers. [30]

Other "real" aircraft included the early jet fighters and trainers as well as current USAF and United States Navy examples. These flying aircraft and helicopters included:

A number of aircraft significant to the story had to be recreated. The first was an essentially static X-1 that had to at least roll along the ground and realistically "belch flame" by a simulated rocket blast from the exhaust pipes. [29] A series of wooden mock-up X-1s were used to depict interior shots of the cockpit, the mating up of the X-1 to a modified B-29 fuselage and bomb bay and ultimately to recreate flight in a combination of model work and live-action photography. The "follow-up" X-1A was also an all-wooden model. [30]

The U.S. Navy's Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket that Crossfield duelled with Yeager's X-1 and X-1A was recreated from a modified Hawker Hunter jet fighter. The climactic flight of Yeager in a Lockheed NF-104A was originally to be made with a modified Lockheed F-104 Starfighter but ultimately, Wilmore decided that the production had to make do with a repainted Luftwaffe F-104G, which lacks the rocket engine of the NF-104. [30]

Wooden mock-ups of the Mercury space capsules also realistically depicted the NASA spacecraft and were built from the original mold. [9]

For many of the flying sequences, scale models were produced by USFX Studios and filmed outdoors in natural sunlight against the sky. Even off-the-shelf plastic scale models were utilized for aerial scenes. The X-1, F-104 and B-29 models were built in large numbers as a number of the more than 40 scale models were destroyed in the process of filming. [32] The blending together of miniatures, full-scale mock-ups and actual aircraft was seamlessly integrated into the live-action footage. The addition of original newsreel footage was used sparingly but to effect to provide another layer of authenticity. [33]

Reception and legacy

Box office

The Right Stuff had its world premiere on October 16, 1983, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to benefit the American Film Institute. [34] [35] It was given a limited release on October 21, 1983, in 229 theaters, grossing $1.6 million on its opening weekend. It went into wide release on February 17, 1984, in 627 theaters where it grossed an additional $1.6 million on that weekend. Despite this, the movie bombed at the box office with $21.1 million (domestically). The failure of this and Twice Upon a Time caused The Ladd Company to shut down.

As part of the promotion for the film, Veronica Cartwright, Chuck Yeager, Gordon Cooper, Scott Glenn and Dennis Quaid appeared in 1983 at ConStellation, the 41st World Science Fiction Convention in Baltimore. [36]


The Right Stuff received overwhelming acclaim from critics. The film holds a 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 52 reviews, with an average score of 8.80/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "The Right Stuff packs a lot of movie into its hefty running time, spinning a colorful, fact-based story out of consistently engaging characters in the midst of epochal events." [37] On Metacritic — which assigns a weighted mean score — the film has a score of 91 out of 100 based on 16 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". [38]

Gene Siskel, Ebert's co-host of At the Movies , also named The Right Stuff the best film of 1983, and said: "It's a great film, and I hope everyone sees it." [39] Siskel also went on to include The Right Stuff at #3 on his list of the best films of the 1980s, behind Shoah and Raging Bull . [40]

In his review for Newsweek , David Ansen wrote: "When The Right Stuff takes to the skies, it can't be compared with any other movie, old or new: it's simply the most thrilling flight footage ever put on film". [4] Gary Arnold in his review for the Washington Post , wrote: "The movie is obviously so solid and appealing that it's bound to go through the roof commercially and keep on soaring for the next year or so". [35] In his review for The New York Times , Vincent Canby praised Shepard's performance: "Both as the character he plays and as an iconic screen presence, Mr. Shepard gives the film much well-needed heft. He is the center of gravity". [41]

Colin Greenland reviewed The Right Stuff for Imagine , and stated: "It is the film's willingness to question [...] idealism, while laying down some very fine footage of things that are moving very fast, which makes The Right Stuff thoroughly absorbing for nearly three and a quarter hours." [42]

Tom Wolfe made no secret of his dislike for the film, especially because of changes from his original book. William Goldman also disliked the choices made by Kaufman, writing in his 1983 book Adventures in the Screen Trade : "Phil [Kaufman]'s heart was with Yeager. And not only that, he felt the astronauts, rather than being heroic, were really minor leaguers, mechanical men of no particular quality, not great pilots at all, simply the product of hype." [43]

The Mercury Seven astronauts were mostly negative about the film. In an early interview, Deke Slayton said that none of the film "was all that accurate, but it was well done." [44] However, in his memoirs, Slayton described the film as being "as bad as the book was good, just a joke". [45] Wally Schirra liked the book a lot, but expressed disappointment and dislike for the movie, and he never forgave the producers for portraying Gus Grissom as a "bungling sort of coward", which was totally untrue. [46] In an interview, Schirra said: "It was the best book on space, but the movie was distorted and warped... All the astronauts hated [the movie]. We called it Animal House in Space." [47] In another interview, Schirra said: "They insulted the lovely people who talked us through the program - the NASA engineers. They made them like bumbling Germans". [44] Scott Carpenter said that it was a "great movie in all regards". [44] Alan Shepard harshly criticized both the movie and the book: "Neither Tom Wolfe nor [Philip Kaufman] had talked to any of the original seven guys, at any time... The Right Stuff [both the film and the book] is fiction... The movie assumed that Grissom had panicked, which wasn't true at all. The movie made him look like a bad guy for the whole movie. They were very hard on John Glenn's wife, who had a mild speech problem. They made Lyndon Johnson look like a clown. It was just totally fiction." [28]

Chuck Yeager said of his characterization: "Sam [Shepard] is not a real flamboyant actor, and I'm not a real flamboyant-type individual ... he played his role the way I fly airplanes". [4]

Robert Osborne, who introduced showings of the film on Turner Classic Movies, was quite enthusiastic about the film. The cameo appearance by the real Chuck Yeager in the film was a particular "treat", which Osborne cited. The recounting of many of the legendary aspects of Yeager's life was left in place, including the naming of the X-1, "Glamorous Glennis" after his wife and his superstitious preflight ritual of asking for a stick of Beemans chewing gum from his best friend, Jack Ridley. [Note 3]

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards [48] [49] Best Picture Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Sam Shepard Nominated
Best Art Direction Art Direction: Geoffrey Kirkland, Richard Lawrence, W. Stewart Campbell and Peter R. Romero;
Set Decoration: Jim Poynter and George R. Nelson
Best Cinematography Caleb Deschanel Nominated
Best Film Editing Glenn Farr, Lisa Fruchtman, Tom Rolf, Stephen A. Rotter and Douglas Stewart Won
Best Original Score Bill Conti Won
Best Sound Mark Berger, Tom Scott, Randy Thom and David MacMillan Won
Best Sound Effects Editing Jay Boekelheide Won
American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Feature Film Glenn Farr, Lisa Fruchtman, Stephen A. Rotter and Tom RolfNominated
Blue Ribbon Awards Best Foreign Language Film Philip Kaufman Won
Bodil Awards Best Non-European Film Won
Cahiers du Cinéma Best Film7th Place
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Drama Nominated
Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing – ADR C.J. Appel, Richard Hymns, Vivien Hillgrove Gilliam and Barbara McBaneWon
Hugo Awards [50] Best Dramatic Presentation Philip Kaufman (screenplay/director) and Tom Wolfe (based on the book)Nominated
Japan Academy Film Prize Outstanding Foreign Language Film Nominated
Kansas City Film Critics Circle AwardsBest DirectorPhilip KaufmanWon
London Critics' Circle Film Awards Screenwriter of the Year Won
National Board of Review Awards Top Ten Films 5th Place
National Film Preservation Board National Film Registry Inducted
National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Director Philip Kaufman2nd Place
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Film Runner-up
Best Director Philip KaufmanRunner-up
Best Supporting Actor Ed Harris Runner-up
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium Philip KaufmanNominated
Young Artist Awards Best Family Motion Picture – DramaNominated

American Film Institute

Home media

On June 23, 2003, Warner Bros. Pictures released a two-disc DVD Special Edition that featured scene-specific commentaries with key cast and crew members, deleted scenes, three documentaries on the making of The Right Stuff including interviews with Mercury astronauts and Chuck Yeager, and a feature-length PBS documentary, John Glenn: American Hero. These extras are also included in the November 5, 2013 release of the 30th Anniversary edition, which also includes a 40-page book binding case, with the film in Blu-ray format. The extras are in standard DVD format.

In addition, the British Film Institute published a book on The Right Stuff by Tom Charity in October 1997 that offered a detailed analysis and behind-the-scenes anecdotes.


Although an album mix had been prepared by Bill Conti in 1983 (and indeed the poster contains the credit "Original Soundtrack Available On Geffen Records"), the soundtrack album release was cancelled following the film's disappointing box office. [52] In 1986, Conti conducted a re-recording of selections from the score and from his music for North and South , performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and released by Varèse Sarabande [53] The original soundtrack was released by Varèse Sarabande on September 20, 2013, prepared from the 1983 album mix (as the original masters of the complete score were lost). [52]

1."Breaking The Sound Barrier" Bill Conti 4:46
2."Mach I"Bill Conti1:23
3."Training Hard / Russian Moon"Bill Conti2:17
4."Tango"Bill Conti2:20
5."Mach II"Bill Conti1:58
6."The Eyes Of Texas Are Upon You / The Yellow Rose Of Texas / Deep In The Heart Of Texas / Dixie"Bill Conti2:50
7."Yeager and the F104"Bill Conti2:26
8."Light This Candle"Bill Conti2:45
9."Glenn's Flight"Bill Conti5:08
10."Daybreak in Space"Bill Conti2:48
11."Yeager's Triumph"Bill Conti5:39
12."The Right Stuff (Single)"Bill Conti3:11
Total length:37:31 [54]

See also


  1. Downtown San Francisco doubled for Lower Manhattan in the ticker-tape parade scene after John Glenn's return to Earth. The scene was shot at the intersection of California and Montgomery Streets in the Financial District, and the Pacific Stock Exchange on the corner of Sansome and Pine Streets can be spotted doubling for the New York Stock Exchange in the final part of the scene. [4]
  2. Schirra proved that activating the hatch explosives would have left a large welt on any part of the body that came in contact with the trigger. He proved this on his Mercury flight when he intentionally blew the hatch on October 3, 1962 when his spacecraft was on the deck of the recovery carrier. [25]
  3. This allusion to Beemans chewing gum was later included in The Rocketeer (1991).

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Walter Marty Schirra Jr. was an American naval aviator, test pilot, and NASA astronaut. In 1959, he became one of the original seven astronauts chosen for Project Mercury, which was the United States' first effort to put humans into space. On October 3, 1962, he flew the six-orbit, nine-hour, Mercury-Atlas 8 mission, in a spacecraft he nicknamed Sigma 7, becoming the fifth American and ninth human to travel into space. In December 1965, as part of the two-man Gemini program, he achieved the first space rendezvous, station-keeping his Gemini 6A spacecraft within 1 foot (30 cm) of the sister Gemini 7 spacecraft. In October 1968, he commanded Apollo 7, an 11-day low Earth orbit shakedown test of the three-man Apollo Command/Service Module and the first crewed launch for the Apollo program.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gordon Cooper</span> American astronaut (1927–2004)

Leroy Gordon "Gordo" Cooper Jr. was an American aerospace engineer, test pilot, United States Air Force pilot, and the youngest of the seven original astronauts in Project Mercury, the first human space program of the United States. Cooper learned to fly as a child, and after service in the United States Marine Corps during World War II, he was commissioned into the United States Air Force in 1949. After service as a fighter pilot, he qualified as a test pilot in 1956, and was selected as an astronaut in 1959.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Donn F. Eisele</span> American astronaut (1930–1987)

Donn Fulton Eisele was a United States Air Force officer, test pilot, and later a NASA astronaut. He served as command module pilot for the Apollo 7 mission in 1968. After retiring from both NASA and the Air Force in 1972, he became the Peace Corps country director for Thailand, before moving into private business.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mercury Seven</span> Group of American astronauts chosen in 1959

The Mercury Seven were the group of seven astronauts selected to fly spacecraft for Project Mercury. They are also referred to as the Original Seven and Astronaut Group 1. Their names were publicly announced by NASA on April 9, 1959; these seven original American astronauts were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton. The Mercury Seven created a new profession in the United States, and established the image of the American astronaut for decades to come.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Project Gemini</span> 1961–1966 US human spaceflight program

Project Gemini was the second United States human spaceflight program to fly. Conducted after the first, Project Mercury, and while the Apollo program was still in development, Gemini was conceived in 1961 and concluded in 1966. The Gemini spacecraft carried a two-astronaut crew. Ten Gemini crews and 16 individual astronauts flew low Earth orbit (LEO) missions during 1965 and 1966.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">NASA Astronaut Group 3</span> Group of astronauts selected by NASA

NASA Astronaut Group 3—'The Fourteen'—was a group of fourteen astronauts selected by NASA for the Gemini and Apollo program. Their selection was announced in October 1963. Seven were from the United States Air Force, four from the United States Navy, one was from the United States Marine Corps and two were civilians. Four died in training accidents before they could fly in space. All of the surviving ten flew Apollo missions; five also flew Gemini missions. Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Gene Cernan and David Scott walked on the Moon.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 14</span> Former rocket launch site in Florida, USA

Launch Complex 14 (LC-14) is a launch site at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. LC-14 was used for various crewed and uncrewed Atlas launches, including the February 1962, Friendship 7 flight aboard which John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.

<i>The Right Stuff</i> (book) Book by Tom Wolfe

The Right Stuff is a 1979 book by Tom Wolfe about the pilots engaged in U.S. postwar research with experimental rocket-powered, high-speed aircraft as well as documenting the stories of the first astronauts selected for the NASA's Project Mercury program. The Right Stuff is based on extensive research by Wolfe, who interviewed test pilots, the astronauts and their wives, among others. The story contrasts the Mercury Seven and their families with other test pilots such as Chuck Yeager, who was never selected as an astronaut.

The John J. Montgomery Award was created by the National Society of Aerospace Professionals (NSAP) and the San Diego Aerospace Museum in 1962 for aerospace achievement. It was awarded from 1962 to at least 1964.

<i>The Right Stuff</i> (TV series) American drama limited-run series

The Right Stuff is an American historical drama limited-run series, loosely based on the 1979 book of the same name by Tom Wolfe and its 1983 film adaptation, that premiered on October 9, 2020, on Disney+. It is the third installment in the titular franchise. It explores the origins and growth of the United States' space program. On April 3, 2021, Disney+ canceled the series due to a redesign in the NatGeo channel's focus. Show financier Warner Bros. Television is looking to shop the series to other networks.

<i>The Right Stuff</i> (franchise) Film / TV franchise about astronaut program

The Right Stuff franchise consists of American historical drama installments, including film and television mediums. Each installment details the aeronautical research at Edwards Air Force Base in California, United States, which lead to the Mercury Seven where seven military pilots were selected to be astronauts for Project Mercury; the first human spaceflight by the United States. Pilots were chosen from the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. A television series was developed by Warner Bros. for National Geographic, and upon being acquired by The Walt Disney Company, the studio also green-lit a documentary feature film; both were released as streaming exclusives available on Disney+.


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