Encyclopedia Astronautica
Mercury MA-11


Crew: Grissom. Planned third one-day Mercury flight. Cancelled as too risky after Mercury MA-9 achieved objective, but only after failure of many spacecraft systems. Backup crew: Schirra.

On July 27, 1961 NASA met with McDonnell engineers to discuss modification of the Mercury spacecraft for Project MODM (Manned One-Day Mission). On October 25, 1961 NASA authorized McDonnell to proceed with the modification of four capsules and associated testing to support four manned MODM flights beginning in late 1962 and finishing by the end of 1963. From then until April 1962 NASA's Mercury program plan included four one-day flights in 1963: MA-10 through MA-13. But by October 1962 the decision was taken to cancel the last short-duration flight and move directly to the one-day flights. Therefore Carpenter's MA-9 flight switched capsules from the short duration SC19 to the long-duration SC20. By this time the decision had been quietly taken to limit the long-duration flights to only MA-9 and MA-10 (SC15B). There were several good reasons for this. The Mercury program was behind schedule and it would be difficult to fly more than two long-duration flights before the mandated completion of the program at the end of 1963. The flight roster of astronauts had been reduced to four, and of these only Grissom would not have made an orbital flight.

If SC12B had flown on a long-duration flight it would have been crewed by Grissom. Given the plans to follow SC15B for three days, it probably also would have undertaken a three to six day flight. Grissom was however already deeply involved with the follow-on project Gemini. It is likely that, as a test pilot, he considered commanding the first manned Gemini flight a far superior assignment to spending several days in the cramped, trouble-prone Mercury design that had already tried to kill him once. Cooper would have been the only available alternate pilot.

First Launch: By the end of 1963.

More... - Chronology...


Associated People
  • Schirra Schirra, Walter Marty Jr 'Wally' (1923-2007) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on Mercury MA-8, Gemini 6, Apollo 7. Member of first crew to rendezvous in space, and commander of first manned Apollo mission. Remembered both for practical jokes and uncompromising attention to detail. Flew 90 combat missions in the Korean War. More...
  • Grissom Grissom, Virgil Ivan 'Gus' (1926-1967) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on Mercury MR-4, Gemini 3. Second American in space and first Gemini commander. Flew 100 combat missions in Korea. Died in on-pad fire of Apollo 1. More...

See also
Associated Programs
  • Mercury Mercury was America's first man-in-space project. Setting the precedent for the later Gemini, Apollo, and Shuttle programs, any capsule configuration proposed by the contractors was acceptable as long as it was the one NASA's Langley facility, and in particular, Max Faget, had developed. McDonnell, at that time a renegade contractor of innovative Navy fighters that had a history of problems in service, received the contract. The capsule had to be as small as possible to match the payload capability of America's first ICBM, the Atlas, which would be used for orbital missions. The resulting design was less than a third of the weight of the Russian Vostok spacecraft, and more limited as a result. More...

Mercury MA-11 Chronology


1961 July 27-28 - .
  • Advanced Mercury concepts - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-10; Mercury MA-11; Mercury MA-12. Spacecraft: Mercury Mark I; Gemini. After the 2-man space concept (later designated Project Gemini) was introduced in May 1961, a briefing between McDonnell and NASA personnel was held on the matter. As a result of this meeting, space flight design effort was concentrated on the 18-orbit 1-man Mercury and on a 2-man spacecraft capable of advanced missions.

1961 October 25 - .
1962 January - .
  • Aerial drop tests planned for the Mercury 1-day mission. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9; Mercury MA-10; Mercury MA-11; Mercury MA-12. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. Twenty spacecraft aerial drop tests were planned for the Mercury extended range or 1-day mission. One of the prime objectives was to determine if the 63-foot ringsail main recovery parachute met all Mercury mission weight requirements. Tests were scheduled to be conducted at El Centro, California, and all tests would be land drops. This test program was designated Project Reef.

1962 January - .
1962 March - .
  • PERT system for Mercury. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9; Mercury MA-10; Mercury MA-11; Mercury MA-12. The PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) reporting system became operational on an experimental basis for Mercury. The first PERT report on the Mercury 1-day mission schedule and cost analysis was issued by the Manned Spacecraft Center on April 26, 1962.

1962 April - .
  • Development of an advanced Mercury suit started. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9; Mercury MA-10; Mercury MA-11; Mercury MA-12. Spacecraft: Mercury Space Suit. Development of an advanced state-of-the-art pressure suit and helmet was started. This action was taken in preparation for the Mercury extended range or 1-day mission program. The objectives were aimed at improvements in unpressurized suit comfort, suit ventilation, pressure suit mobility, electrically heated helmet visor with additional light attenuation features, and the fabrication of a mechanical visor seal mechanism.

1962 June 26 - .
  • Mercury Project Reef - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9; Mercury MA-10; Mercury MA-11; Mercury MA-12. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. Project Reef, an airdrop program to evaluate the Mercury 63-foot ringsail main parachute's capability to support the higher spacecraft weight for the extended range or 1-day mission was completed. Tests indicated that the parachute qualified to support the mission.

1962 June 29 - .
  • Changes to fuel tank for the Mercury 1-day mission. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9; Mercury MA-10; Mercury MA-11; Mercury MA-12. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Engineering was completed for the spacecraft reaction control system reserve fuel tank and related hardware in support of the Mercury extended range or 1-day mission..

1962 August - .
1962 August 8 - .
1962 August 11 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft reaction control system test was completed. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9; Mercury MA-10; Mercury MA-11; Mercury MA-12. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Data compiled from this test was used to evaluate the thermal and thruster configuration of the Mercury extended range or 1-day mission spacecraft..

1962 August-September - .
  • Mercury spacecraft configuration changes for a one-day manned orbital mission. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9; Mercury MA-10; Mercury MA-11; Mercury MA-12. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Negotiations were completed with McDonnell for spacecraft configuration changes to support the Mercury 1-day manned orbital mission. The design engineering inspection, when the necessary modifications were listed, was held on June 7, 1962..

By the end of 1963 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D. LV Configuration: Atlas D Mercury s/n 152D.
  • Mercury MA-11 (cancelled) - . Crew: Grissom. Backup Crew: Schirra. Payload: Mercury SC12B. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Grissom; Schirra. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-11. Spacecraft: Mercury. From October 25, 1961 until April 1962 NASAs Mercury program plan included four one-day flights in 1963. By October 1962 the decision had been quietly taken to limit the long-duration flights to only MA-9 and MA-10. MA-10 was fnally cancelled in turn after the successful MA-9 mission.

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