Cooper, Jr., Leroy Gordon | 1963
- Birth and Death Year | 1927-2004
- Induction Year | 1963
- Profession | Astronaut
- Oklahoma Connection | Cooper was born in Shawnee Hospital in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
- Hometown | Shawnee
In early 2006, Major Cooper became the first astronaut to have some of his ashes launched into space on a SpaceX Falcon from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California.
“He was more comfortable flying than any place else. He had a confidence, or an optimism in flying, and in life, that everything would be just fine.” - Suzan Cooper, 2005
Leroy Gordon Cooper, Jr., was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, but spent the first three years of his life in Tecumseh. He moved to Shawnee in 1930 with his family where he graduated from Shawnee High School. After graduation, he joined the Marine Corps in 1945, later attending college where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant through the Army ROTC. He was a member of the Presidential Honor Guard before transferring his commission to the Air Force. Later, he was a fighter pilot stationed in Germany, then attended the Experimental Flight Test School at Edwards Air Force Base in California. He was an aeronautical engineer and test pilot, and it was from this position that he was selected to be a part of Project Mercury. In May of 1963, he traveled 595,564 miles in 34 hours and 20 minutes and gained the reputation as the “travelingest American who had ever lived.” In July of 1970, Major Cooper resigned from the space program to become president of National Exhibits, Inc., a program to establish a convention center and permanent exposition promoting exhibits from the states. In 1992, Major Cooper received the Clarence E. Page Trophy from the Oklahoma Air Space Museum.