On this week in 1970, Fred Haise of Biloxi became the first Mississippian in space. Haise was the Lunar Module Pilot on the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission. After an explosion severely damaged their spacecraft, Haise and his fellow astronauts worked with NASA engineers on the ground to return to earth safely. Haise went on to work in the Space Shuttle program, and later became a vice president of Grumman Aerospace.
The next Mississippian in space was Richard Truly of Fayette, who commanded space shuttle missions in 1981 and ‘83. He later became the first astronaut to become head of NASA.
Donald Peterson of Winona was the third Mississippian in space, serving on a Space Shuttle mission in 1983. Peterson spent more than four hours outside the Space Shuttle, conducting experiments with nothing but his suit and helmet between him and the vastness of space.
For more interesting facts about Mississippi's 200-year history, watch a new interstitial each week of 2017 with Mississippi: A Thread Through Time on MPB Television.