Gus Grissom: Making History

Early space flights were so short (as little as 15 minutes) that astronauts could usually wait until they had returned to Earth before using the bathroom. (On later Mercury flights, astronauts were outfitted with urination bags and dealt with the problem #2 by adopting a "low-residue" diet three days before every mission.)

In July 1961, however, Gus Grissom, perhaps anticipating an excretory emergency, demanded that NASA flight surgeon Bill Douglas find a solution before his next mission. Douglas, with no time to spare and Grissom breathing down his neck, sent a nurse into town to find a ready-made absorbent undergarment. She returned some time later and, on July 21, 1961, Grissom became the first astronaut in history to blast into space... wearing a woman's panty girdle.

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