Narrator: There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, seven hundred and fifty miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass. They called it the sound barrier.
Narrator: The Mercury program was over. Four years later, astronaut Gus Grissom was killed, along with astronauts White and Chaffee, when fire swept through their Apollo capsule. But on that glorious day in May 1963, Gordo Cooper went higher, farther, and faster than any other American - 22 complete orbits around the world; he was the last American ever to go into space alone. And for a brief moment, Gordo Cooper became the greatest pilot anyone had ever seen.
Chief Scientist: Our Germans are better than their Germans.
John Glenn: Annie, listen to me, OK? You listening? If you don't want the Vice President or the TV networks or anybody else to come into the house, then that's it, as far as I'm concerned. They are NOT coming in, and I will back you all the way, a hundred percent on this. And you tell them that, OK? I don't want Johnson or any of the rest of them to set as much as one TOE inside our house.
Annie Glenn: OK.
John Glenn: You tell them that- that Astronaut John Glenn told you to say that.
Jack Ridley: [talking to TV] Attaboy, Gus!
[talking to Yeager]
Jack Ridley: Pull that stuff on flight test, it's all over for him. I say he screwed the pooch, pardner. Plain and simple.
Chuck Yeager: Yeah, well, sometimes you get a pooch that can't be screwed, ya know?
Liaison Man: [chuckling] Exactly! Right now the President's got his own problems with the Bay of Pigs, he doesn't want the astronauts' image tarnished. Nothing these guys do is gonna be called a failure. You'd think the public would know they're just doing what monkeys have done.
Chuck Yeager: Monkeys? You think a monkey knows he's sittin' on a rocket that might explode? These astronaut boys, they know that, see? I'll tell you somethin'. Takes a special kind of man to volunteer for a suicide mission, especially when it's on TV. Ol' Gus, he did alright.
Chief Scientist: I agree with those who say we could launch a pod.
Lyndon Johnson: A pot?
Chief Scientist: A POD - a, uh, capsule. Now, we would be in full control of zis pod. It vill go up like a cannonball, and come down like, uh, a cannonball, splashing down into ze water, the ocean, vith a parachute to spare the life of the specimen inside.
Lyndon Johnson: Spaceman?
Chief Scientist: SPE-CI-MEN.
Lyndon Johnson: Well, what kind of spe-ci-men?
Chief Scientist: A tough one. Responsive to orders. I had in mind a jimp.
Lyndon Johnson: JIMP? Well what the HELL is a jimp?
Chief Scientist: A jimp. A-a-a jimpanzee, Senator. An ape.
Henry Luce: Now, I want them all to meet my people who will write their true stories, Naturally these stories will appear in Life magazine under their own bylines: For example, "by Betty Grissom", or "by Virgil I. Grisson", or...
Gus Grissom: Gus!
Henry Luce: What was that?
Gus Grissom: Gus. Nobody calls me by... that other name.
Henry Luce: Gus? An astronaut named "Gus"? What's your middle name?
Gus Grissom: Ivan.
Henry Luce: Ivan... ahem... well. Maybe, Gus isn't so bad, might be something there... All right, all right. You can be Gus.
Pancho Barnes: What are you two rookies gonna have?
Gordon Cooper: Rookies? Now hold on, sis. You are looking at a whole new ballgame here now. In fact, in a couple of years, I bet you're even gonna immortalize us by putting our pictures up there on your wall.
[unwittingly referring to the dead pilot memorial over the bar]
Gordon Cooper: What? I say somethin' wrong here?
Pancho Barnes: I tell you, we got two categories of pilots around here. We got your prime pilots that get all the hot planes, and we got your pud-knockers who dream about getting the hot planes. Now what are you two pud-knockers gonna have? Huh?
[an argument rages, primarily between Shepard, Glenn, Carpenter and Cooper]
Scott Carpenter: John's right! Now, whether we like it or not, we're public figures. Whether we deserve it or not, people are going to look up to us. We have got a tremendous responsibility here.
Alan Shepard: You cannot tell a pilot what he's doing when he's not flying!
Gus Grissom: Wait a minute, wait a minute!
[turns Glenn toward him]
Gus Grissom: You've got it all wrong, the issue here ain't pussy. The issue here is monkey.
John Glenn: What?
Gus Grissom: Us. We are the monkey.
Deke Slayton: What Gus is saying is that we're missing the point. What Gus is saying is that we all heard the rumors that they want to send a monkey up first. Well, none of us wants to think that they're gonna send a monkey up to do a man's work. But what Gus is saying is that what they're trying to do to us is send a man up to do a monkey's work. Us, a bunch of college-trained chimpanzees!
Gus Grissom: Fuckin' A, bubba.
Deke Slayton: Alright, so what Gus is saying is that we've got to change things around here. He's saying that we are pilots. And we know more about what we need to fly this thing than anybody else. So what we have to do is to alter the experiment. And what that comes down to is who is gonna control this thing from here on out.
Gordon Cooper: What Gus is saying here is that we've got to stick together on this deal.
Gus Grissom: I did NOT do anything wrong. The hatch just BLEW. It was a GLITCH. It was a- a TECHNICAL MALFUNCTION. Why in hell won't anyone believe me?
Alan Shepard: Request permission to relieve bladder... Gordo... Gordo?
Gordon Cooper: Look, the man has got to go! Now it's either that or we get out the lug wrench and pry him out...
Chief Scientist: [with resignation] Do it... in the suit.
Gordon Cooper: José, permission to wet your diapers anytime son.
[the Mercury Seven walk through the space center after the response to Yuri Gagarin's space shot]
John Glenn: I'm tired of being forthright, gracious and magnanimous.
Gordon Cooper: Yeah.
John Glenn: I'm tired of these stupid questions from the press.
Gordon Cooper: mm-hmm
John Glenn: I'm tired of smocks, I'm tired of engineers telling us what we can't do, I'm tired of everybody that says we are not pilots!
Gordon Cooper: You tell 'em, John.
John Glenn: I'm tired of monkeys.
Alan Shepard: Yeah.
John Glenn: And most of all, I am sick and tired of being second to those... those darn Russians!
Gus Grissom: There ya go.
John Glenn: Now I think it's about time we...
Wally Schirra: - got someone up there!
[the others voice their approval]
John Glenn: Let's f-f-f...
Gus Grissom: Fuckin' A, bubba.
John Glenn: That's right! Exactly!
Dwight D. Eisenhower: The first American into space is not going to be a chimpanzee. I want test pilots!
Recruiter: Funding. That's what makes your ships go up. I'll tell you something, and you guys too: No bucks, no Buck Rodgers.
unknown: Is that a man?
Jack Ridley: You damn right it is.
Chuck Yeager: Hey, Ridley, make another note here, would ya? Must be something wrong with this ol' Mach meter. Jumped plumb off the scale. Gone kinda screwy on me.
Jack Ridley: You go ahead and bust it, we'll fix it. Personally, I think you're seein' things.
Chuck Yeager: Yeah, could be. But I'm still goin' upstairs like a bat outta hell.
Chuck Yeager: Anybody that goes up in the damn thing is gonna be Spam in a can.
Gus Grissom: Fuckin' A, bubba.
Gordon Cooper: Who was the best pilot I ever saw? Well, uh, you're lookin' at 'im.
[Alan Shepard climbs into Freedom 7 to find a placard taped to the instrument panel reading "No Handball Playing In This Area". John Glenn looks in and smiles]
Alan Shepard: [hands placard out to Glenn] Not very funny, John.
John Glenn: Well, I thought it...
Alan Shepard: I do appreciate, John. I surely do.
John Glenn: [the two shake hands] Vaya con Dios, Jose.
Betty Grissom: [after her husband's flight] I thought I was going to be Honorable Mrs. Astronaut, and I ended up being Honorable Mrs. Squirming Hatchblower.
Lyndon Johnson: And as I was sayin', whoever controls the high ground of space controls the world. The Roman Empire controlled the world because it could build roads. Later, the British Empire was dominant because they had ships. In the Air Stage, we were powerful because we had the airplane. And now the Communists have established a foothold in outer space. Pretty soon they'll have damned space platforms so they can drop nuclear bombs on us, like rocks from a highway overpass. Now HOW IN THE HELL did they ever get ahead of us?
Chuck Yeager: Monkeys? You think a monkey knows he's sittin' on top of a rocket that might explode? These astronaut boys they know that, see? Well, I'll tell you something, it takes a special kind of man to volunteer for a suicide mission, especially one that's on TV. Ol' Gus, he did all right.
Gordon Cooper: [during the lung capacity test] Ha! 93 seconds. Read it and weep
[notices Glenn and Carpenter are still exhaling]
John Glenn: [Glenn has run out of breath well past Gordo's time] Congratulations, Scott. Darn good.
Scott Carpenter: [shaking Glenn's hand] You were probably just getting warmed up, John. Next time I doubt I'll be the one to win.
Gus Grissom: [to Gordo] You hear that? We were competing with Archie and Jughead
Trudy Cooper: [Trudy has just finished talking to Nurse Murch about Gordo] You're all set. I told her you were stable, well-adjusted, attentive, persevering... I lied.
Gordon Cooper: That a girl! What'd she say?
Trudy Cooper: She laughed! She knows you too well, Gordo.
Gordon Cooper: Yeah, well some women just have a problem with men, you know?
Trudy Cooper: [Shakes her head ruefully as Gordo walks off] Yeah, I know.
Frank Sharp (Texan): Which one are you?
Alan Shepard: Shepard.
Frank Sharp (Texan): Oh yeah? Well, which one's Glenn? He's the one I want to meet.
Alan Shepard: He's right over there.
Frank Sharp (Texan): 'Scuse me.
Alan Shepard: [to his wife] Louise, I'm going to the moon, I swear to God. I'm on my way.
Deke Slayton: [at press conference] We're not saying anything new here. We're just saying the same things that need to be said again and again with fierce conviction.
Lyndon Johnson: Gladiolas! Isn't there anybody who can deal with a housewife?
John Glenn: [Cooper had fallen asleep waiting to launch] Sorry to interupt, buddy, but we've got a launch here!
Gordon Cooper: I'm not one of those hot dog pilots, I am *the* hot dog man Himself.
Gus Grissom: Hey, didja hear that? We're competing with Archie and Jughead!
Jack Ridley: Put the spurs to her, Chuck.
Alan Shepard: [during enema continence test] Tell me something, Mr. Gonzalez. You ever have any explosions doing this?
Gonzalez: All the time. It's a mess.
Alan Shepard: Tell me something else, Mr. Gonzalez. How am I doing?
Gonzalez: I think you're going to make it, man. I think you're going to be an astronaut.
Trudy Cooper: [about being the wife of a test pilot] I went back east to a reunion and all my friends could talk about their husband's work. How "dog-eat-dog" and cutthroat it was on Madison Ave. Places like that.
[under her breath]
Trudy Cooper: Cutthroat.
Trudy Cooper: I wondered how they would've felt if every time their husband went in to make a deal, there was a one in four chance he wouldn't come out of that meeting.
Chuck Yeager: [NASA recruiters are talking to test pilots] You need lab rabbits.
Recruiter: Sorry, I didn't get that.
Chuck Yeager: I said you need lab rabbits to curl up in your damn capsule. With its heart going "pitter-patter". And a wire up the kazook. I don't hold with it.
Scott Crossfield: I don't either. You want a pilot to become a balistic missile. And then splash down - possibly get lost at sea.
Pancho Barnes: See, some peckerwood's gotta get the thing up. And some peckerwood's gotta land the son of a bitch. And that "peckerwood" is called a "pilot".
Gordon Cooper: You know something, Gus? I got me a new house, new furniture. Got me $25,000 a year on a magazine contract. Got me a Corvette. Got free lunch from one end of America to the other - and I ain't even been up there yet.
Gus Grissom: Yeah, I noticed that.
Gordon Cooper: Oh, you noticed that, did you? Well I guess they're just saving the best for last.
Gus Grissom: Yeah, I guess so, Hot Dog. Just be sure you don't screw the pooch.
Minister: [singing at pilot's funeral] Lord, guard and guide the men who fly through the great spaces in the sky. Be with them always in the air, in darkened storm or sunlight glare. O, hear us when we lift our prayer, for those in peril in the air. A-men.
Gonzalez: You know, Mr. Shepard, me and my friends think your Jose Jimenez imitation is A-OK. But what you're doing with it is B-A-D.
John Glenn: I don't want anything to put this program in a bad light. I mean, we've got the opportunity of a lifetime and I'm sorry but I am not going to stand by and let other people compromise the whole darn thing. You know and I know this could lead to something very unfortunate.
[Unsure which one says this: "What's ticking you off?"]
John Glenn: I'm talking about the playing around that's going on. I'm talking about the young girls. I'm talking about the cookies. I'm talking about keeping our pants zipped and our wicks dry around here!
Alan Shepard: Mr. Glenn, you are way out of line. I'd advise you not to try and foist your view of morality on anybody else in this group. Each man here has volunteered to do a job. Each man here is devoting long hours of training to prepare for it, and doing many things above and beyond the strict call of duty, such as morale tours of factories...
John Glenn: - such as bringing girls up to your room in the middle of the night?
Alan Shepard: - and foregoing any semblance of an orderly family life. And Mr. Glenn, as long as a man uses good sense, what he does with his zipper or his wick is his own business!
Scott Carpenter: [Comes between Shepard and Glenn] Now hold it just a minute!
Pancho Barnes: Why Yeager, you old bastard. Don't just stand there like some lonesome god-damn mouse-shit sheepherder. Get your ass over here and have a drink.
Glennis Yeager: The government can spend all kinds of money teaching you how to be a fearless test pilot, but they don't spend a god-damned thing teaching you how to be the fearless wife of a fearless test pilot.
Gus Grissom: [as Gordo Cooper is being launched] GO, HOTDOG, GO!
Alan Shepard: Having just urinated in his spacesuit... "Well, I'm a w*****k now!"
Game Show MC: Major, Eddie here has a little problem with his girlfriend. Did you ever have a problem like that when you were 10?
John Glenn: Yes, I did, Bob. I liked a girl in my class, but all the other guys liked her too and she didn't pay any attention. But, I kept after her, Eddie.
Game Show MC: Did you finally get her to notice you?
John Glenn: Yes, I did. In fact, I finally got her to marry me.