Space: Under Whose Moon?

With all his laconic ways, Astronaut Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr. was a wildly acclaimed homecoming hero. In Honolulu, Cocoa Beach, Washington, New York and Houston, the Oklahoma-born Air Force major accepted roars of applause from hundreds of thousands. He reported to the U.S. on a televised news conference. He addressed a joint session of Congress. He and his wife Trudy sipped cocktails at the White House with Jack and Jackie. In the midst of it all, Cooper attended a Broadway musical—Stop the World, I Want to Get Off.

The outpouring for Cooper was both...

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