LIFE Magazine's Classic Photos

Life Magazine Photography pictures The Right Stuff, 1959
Ralph Morse / Life

The Right Stuff, 1959
By Ralph Morse
The space administration selected seven astronauts who would carry America's hopes into space against the Soviet Union, then it elected to let LIFE into the inner sanctum. Ralph Morse was such a constant in their activities that the Mercury Seven team (front row, left to right: Wally Schirra, Deke Slayton, John Glenn and Scott Carpenter; back row: Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom and Gordon Cooper) dubbed Morse the Eighth Astronaut. Of LIFE's coverage, Morse said, "You've got to remember, we made heroes of the astronauts the day they were picked. . . . We took seven men who were all good test pilots and terrific guys, but we were making heroes out of men who hadn't done anything yet."

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