Landmark Books in All Fields
ItemID: #120206
Cost: $3,800.00


Gus Grissom


(GRISSOM, Gus) HAWKINS, George A. Thermodynamics. New York: John Wiley & Sons, (1947). Octavo, original navy cloth. $3800.

Fourth printing of this thermodynamics text, used by Gus Grissom as an undergraduate at Purdue and bearing his owner signature: "Grissom, Virgil I 219-1/2 Littleton St.," with dozens of annotations in Grissom's hand including mathematical equations; notes about exams; and lecture notes.

Written by Purdue University professor George A. Hawkins, Thermodynamics is a textbook concentrating on the properties of gases as well as the engineering aspects of thermodynamics. The first edition was published in 1946; this is the fourth printing, published a year later. This copy belonged to astronaut Virgil "Gus" Grissom while he was an undergraduate studying mechanical engineering at Purdue University. It is heavily annotated in Grissom's hand with important dates on the class syllabus, mathematical equations, and lecture notes. Grissom had enrolled in Purdue in 1946 after serving in World War II. Unlike many undergraduates, Grissom was already married. His desire to support his family meant that he worked part-time as a cook during school and took summer classes. He finally graduated in 1950. Immediately after graduation, Grissom returned to the Air Force, reenlisting in time to join the Korean War effort. Although he had trained as a pilot during World War II, the Korean War was the first time Grissom had the chance to prove his mettle as a pilot. He flew 100 missions—the quota at the time—and earned the rank of 1st Lieutenant and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with an oak leaf cluster. While he requested permission to stay and continue flying, the Air Force sent Grissom stateside and he quickly made two choices that would make him a prime astronaut candidate: accepting the role of test pilot and earning a second bachelor's degree in aeromechanics. In 1959, Grissom was summoned to NASA in a top secret message. A brilliant pilot, Grissom was selected to fly the second Mercury mission. The mission was successful, but his spacecraft, the Liberty Bell 7, blew its hatch at landing and Grissom had to abandon it to avoid drowning. While waiting for rescue in the open ocean, his spacesuit encountered a malfunction that meant he nearly drowned again from its downward drag. In 1964, Grissom was named command pilot for Gemini 3, the first crewed Project Gemini flight. Gemini 3 was another success, but his next mission, Apollo 1 was not. Throughout preparation for the flight, Grissom complained publicly about the mechanics of the aircraft and expressed his doubts over the spacecraft's fitness. Sadly, he was right. Apollo 1 burst into flames during pre-flight testing when damaged wires started a fire worsened by numerous flammable items in the spacecraft including a pressured 100% oxygen atmosphere and even the astronauts' spacesuits. The inward-opening hatch was locked in place by the pressurized atmosphere and, while some in the rescue crew risked their own lives trying to help, the hatch could not be opened. Within minutes, all three astronauts were dead from asphyxiation and thermal burns. Grissom remains one of the most talented and famous astronauts of the space race, known just as much for his skill as a pilot and engineer as for his tragic death.

Interior generally quite nice with only a few tiny stains to edges of text block, light rubbing and slightest soiling to cloth. An extremely good copy with most rare and desirable provenance.

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