SHAWNEE, OK, USA - Did you know?
Leroy Gordon "Gordo" Cooper Jr. (1927 – 2004) was an American aerospace engineer, test pilot, United States Air Force pilot, and the youngest of the seven original astronauts in Project Mercury, the first human space program of the United States.
In 1963 Cooper piloted the longest and last Mercury spaceflight, Mercury-Atlas 9. During that 34-hour mission he became the first American to spend an entire day in space, the first to sleep in space, and the last American launched on an entirely solo orbital mission. Cooper became the first astronaut to make a second orbital flight when he flew as Command Pilot of Gemini 5 in 1965. Along with Pilot Pete Conrad, he set a new space endurance record by traveling 3,312,993 miles (5,331,745 km) in 190 hours and 56 minutes—just short of eight days—showing that astronauts could survive in space for the length of time necessary to go from the Earth to the Moon and back.
Cooper was born and raised in Shawnee. He "unofficially" soloed his first flight at age 12. Gordon Cooper Technology Center now bares his name. You may not be as adventurous as Gordon Cooper, but we'd love to meet you. Be who you want to be, in Shawnee!