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Virgil "Gus" I. Grissom papers

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 57, Placement: 01
Identifier: MSA 130

Scope and Contents

Copies of employment related materials of Mr. Grissom from the Chicago, Indianapolis, and Louisville Railway Company, Monon Route.


  • 1947 - 1990


Language of Materials

Collection material is in English.

Access Information

Restricted.  Collection is closed until further notice.

Biographical Information

Virgil I. Grissom was born April 3, 1926, in Mitchell, Indiana. He graduated from Mitchell High School, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University.

Grissom, an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, received his wings in March 1951. He flew 100 combat missions in Korea in F-86s with the 334th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, and upon returning to the United States in 1952, became a jet instructor at Bryan, Texas.

In August 1955, he entered the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to study Aeronautical Engineering. He attended the Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in October 1956 and returned to Wright-Patterson in May 1957 as a test pilot assigned to the fighter branch. Grissom logged 4,600 hours flying time, 3,500 hours in jet aircraft.

Grissom was one of the seven Mercury astronauts selected by NASA in April 1959. He piloted the Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft - the second and final suborbital Mercury test flight on July 21, 1961. This flight lasted 15 minutes and 37 seconds, attained an altitude of 118 statute miles, and traveled 302 miles downrange from the launch pad at Cape Kennedy.

On March 23, 1965, he served as command pilot on the first manned Gemini flight, A three-orbit mission during which the crew accomplished the first orbital trajectory modifications and the first lifting reentry of a manned spacecraft. Subsequent to this assignment, he served as backup command pilot for Gemini 6.

Grissom was named to serve as command pilot for the AS-204 mission, the first three-man Apollo flight.

Lieutenant Colonel Grissom died on January 27, 1967, in the Apollo spacecraft flash fire during a launch pad test at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Grissom was a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. His special honors included the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with cluster for his Korean service, two NASA Distinguished Service medals and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal; the Air Force Command Astronaut Wings.

He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.


0.02 Cubic Feet (One folder)

Virgil "Gus" I. Grissom papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Second edition. Collection description first completed 2012-05-07.

Revision Statements

  • 2019-08-13: Collection description updated to new standards by Mary A. Sego.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States