National Geographic : 1962 Feb
Our medical observer, watching a paper tape recording the astronaut's simulated heartbeat, nods approvingly. Our capsule communicator queries the man in space and scribbles furiously, for the spacecraft passes overhead from horizon to horizon in only six minutes. The fact that man and capsule are simu lated scarcely detracts from the drama of this preview. Magnetic tapes provide the signals to operate our radar and data-gathering equipment. But the voices we hear are real people, manning their posts at Canaveral and Bermuda and other tracking stations, keep ing vigil around the world just as we are doing at Guaymas. Only the astronaut's voice is unreal: It is dubbed in by a technician in another room. "What you see and hear tonight," an en gineer remarks, "is almost exactly what will happen when the first American does orbit the earth."* As each of the chosen American astronauts takes this whirlwind ride three times around the earth, we will have a mental picture of his route far above jungles, deserts, and emp ty stretches of sea. At that heart-stopping *For previous GEOGRAPHIC articles on the U. S . space program, see: "The Flight of Freedom 7," by Carmault B. Jackson, Jr., and "The Pilot's Story," by Alan B. Shepard, Jr., both September, 1961; "Countdown for Space," by Kenneth F. Weaver, May, 1961; "Exploring Tomorrow With the Space Agency," July, 1960, and "Cape Canaveral's 6,000-mile Shooting Gallery," Octo ber, 1959, both by Allan C. Fisher, Jr. Mechanical arms that write as they move trace the path of MA-4 at Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. On each orbital flight, data from the world net work funnel through Goddard to Canaveral, providing a second-by-second log. Radio Signals From Point Arguello Brought Enos the Chimp Back to Earth Mercury's California tracking station lies within a 19,000-acre Navy facility 140 miles northwest of Los Angeles. A radar installa tion, as imposing as a fortress, crowns 2,159 foot Mount Tranquillon. Upon orders tele phoned from Cape Canaveral, Arnold Ald rich, chief flight controller at Point Arguello, fired the MA-5's retrorockets to end the chimpanzee's trip through space.