Born Apr. 3, 1926, in Mitchell, Ind.; died Jan. 27, 1967, at the testing area of Cape Kennedy. US astronaut. Air force colonel.
Grissom became a military pilot in 1944. In 1950 he graduated from Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind.; in 1955 he graduated from the Air Force Institute of Technology; and in 1956 he graduated from test pilot school at Edwards Air Force Base. In 1959 he became an astronaut of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On July 21, 1961, as part of Project Mercury, he completed a 16-minute suborbital flight. On Mar. 23, 1965, he completed a space flight in Gemini 3 with J. Young. The flight lasted about five hours (three orbits around the earth). On this flight the astronauts made the first transfer of a spaceship from one orbit to another. E. White, R. Chaffee, and Grissom died from a fire that broke out in the cabin of an Apollo spaceship during ground tests.