Even a capsule sentence can reveal one’s view of God and the world. “The God I pray to,” said an American astronaut, “is not so small that I expected to see him in space.” (John Glenn, Jr., was retorting to the gibe of Gherman S. Titov, Soviet cosmonaut, “In my travels around the earth … I saw no God or angels.”—Newsweek, May 21, 1962). Each man is thus stating the ABC’s of his particular Weltanschauung that nations variously aligned in global cold war express in fuller combinations of meaning. Each man also reveals something of the orbit that defines his daily life. Amid the enthusiastic acclaim of thousands who lined the great avenues of the nation’s capital, Astronaut Glenn could well afford to be humble; he knew his God was present. Later in addressing Congress he evinced the freedom of spirit to show himself as one among peers. The glowing 50,000-degree shock wave of re-entry friction had been less than a foot ahead of his carrier, making the possible loss of the Mercury’s heat shield an earlier test of his faith and character. The calmness of this man so humanly alone in space was remarkable.

But was he really alone? Carefully executed plans had prepared a complex tracking system of 16 centers, manned by skilled scientist-technicians who actively stand by through each moment of every space flight. And at Cape Canaveral the Mercury Control Center coordinates all phases, keeping in touch with the network of auxiliary centers and with the man in space.

At each center all personnel unite to achieve those common goals that relate to the total space project. Short-range objectives and responsibilities for individual centers and workers are clearly defined. Progress, as it appears from above and below, is communicated back ...

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