The First NASA Astronaut To Enter Space A Second Time Was?
Answer: Gus Grissom
When it comes to notable space events, a lot of attention is paid to things like the first man in space, the first man on the moon, and so forth. Today, however, we’re turning our eye towards an often overlooked bit of space travel trivia: the first NASA astronaut to return to space for a second trip.
That distinction belongs to early astronaut Virgil Ivan “Gus” Grissom. Gus, a United States Air Force test pilot, mechanical engineer, and member of the original NASA Project Mercury group was the second American to fly in space. During the Project Mercury flight, Mercury-Redstone 4 (also known as Liberty Bell 7), Grissom briefly entered space in 1961 with a 15 minutes, 37 seconds long sub-orbital flight. In 1964, after Alan Shepard was grounded due to illness, Grissom again took to space as the command pilot of Gemini 3, this time orbiting the Earth three times over the course of nearly five hours.
Grissom would have been the first NASA pilot to return to space for a third trip but, tragically, he and two other astronauts were killed during a pre-launch test malfunction of the Apollo 1 Command Module on January 27, 1967.