Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chevrolet Celebrates 50 Years of Corvettes and Astronauts

From Chevrolet.com:

On May 5, 1961, Alan B. Shepard became the first American to travel into outer space. When he returned to terra firma, Shepard got behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Corvette – and the legends of America’s favorite sports car and spacemen have been intertwined ever since.

On May 7, 2011, approximately 30 of America’s surviving astronauts are expected to gather at Cocoa Beach, Fla., where they will participate in a parade commemorating the 50th anniversary of Shepard’s historic sub-orbital flight. Fittingly, they will be driven in Corvettes representing all six design generations built since the famed sports car’s 1953 debut.

“Each astronaut will ride in a Corvette from the generation current at the time of their mission,” parade coordinator John T. R. Dillon III said.

Dillon, a Safety Engineer at the Kennedy Space Center, is also a Corvette owner and member of the Cape Kennedy Corvette Club, which counted four astronauts among its original membership when it was founded in 1967.

“All of the astronauts were test pilots back then; they flew performance aircraft and they moved into performance cars with a well-honed appreciation for handling, acceleration and so forth," Dillon said.

Shepard brought along his 1957 Corvette when he reported for Space Program training in April, 1959...he would own at least 10 Corvettes in his lifetime. His enthusiasm for sports cars was shared by several of the other adventurous and dedicated young men who would train with him to become America’s first astronauts.

Shortly after Shepard’s historic flight, then General Motors Executive Edward N. Cole presented the astronaut with a new, white, 1962 Corvette. The car had been outfitted by GM designers with a customized space-age interior.

Stop by Purifoy Chevrolet for more information on the Chevrolet Corvette.


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