The New Nine astronauts (NASA Astronaut Group 2) posing with the Original Seven Mercury Astronauts

Space Mission
Mercury Programme, 21 Jan 1960


Photo Description
Vintage chromogenic print on fiber-based Kodak paper
8 h × 10 w in (20 × 25 cm) with ‘A Kodak Paper’ watermarks to verso.

A great portrait of the first two groups of NASA astronauts. The Seven Original Mercury astronauts (NASA Astronaut Group 1, selected in April 1959) plus nine new members of the astronaut corps (Astronaut Group 2, selected on September 17, 1962), also named the New Nine. Seated from left to right are: Gordon Cooper, Gus Grissom, Scott Carpenter, Walter Schirra, John Glenn, Alan Shepard and Donald Slayton. Standing from left to right are: Edward White, James McDivitt, John Young, Elliot See, Pete Conrad, Frank Borman, Neil Armstrong, Thomas Stafford, and James Lovell. Astronauts’ signatures are also visible at the bottom of the frame.

With the announcement of the Gemini program leading to the Apollo program, the New Nine was required to augment the Original Mercury Seven. While the Original Seven had been selected to accomplish the simpler task of orbital flight, the new challenges of rendezvous and lunar landing led to the selection of candidates with advanced engineering degrees (for four of the Nine) as well as test pilot experience. Lovell and Conrad had been candidates for the Original Seven, but were not selected then. The nine became the first group with civilian test pilots; See had flown for General Electric, while Armstrong had flown the X-15 research plane for NASA.