“Deconstructing a Space-Age Myth” by Joel W. Powell
Published in Quest Volume: 28 #4 (2021)


An errant Atlas launch on 18 May 1959 was ostensibly witnessed by America’s Mercury astronauts on 18 May 1959. Astronaut Shepard reportedly said, “I sure hope they fix that,” or words to that effect. A similar anecdote also appeared in John Glenn’s 1999 memoir. The only problem with the story is that it is almost certainly not true. Careful reading of the press coverage at the time of the visit disclosed that the astronauts did not arrive in Florida until two days after the failed rocket launch.


Powell, Joel. “Deconstructing a Space-Age Myth.” Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly 28, no. 4 (2021): 61-62.

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More Information

  • Archive ID # G301227
  • Format: Document (PDF)
  • Author/Creator:
  • Publication Year: 2021
  • Publisher: Quest
  • Copyright Status: Copyrighted
  • Copyright Holder: SPACE 3.0
  • Language: English
  • Number of Pages: 2
  • Type: History
  • Subject:
  • Collection: Quest
  • Availability: Digital Download