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Galactic Gathering: A Celebration of Indiana's Space Heritage
Updated July 17, 2017 6:40 AM
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(MITCHELL) - Eleven of Indiana's Astronauts gathered in Mitchell, Indiana celebrating Indiana's Space Heritage during the Galactic Gathering--the largest gathering of Hoosier born astronauts ever.

Events kicked off with the Liftoff Breakfast at Spring Mill Inn where those who purchased tickets really got to interact with the honored guests.

The event was hosted by Virgil I. Grissom Memorial, INC. Virgil "Gus" Grissom was from Mitchell, Indiana and graduated from Mitchell High School. He was selected to be one of the seven original Mercury Astronauts in 1959.

It was Astronaut Jerry Ross's first time to the Gus Grissom boyhood home. Ross said that Grissom was one of his heroes growing up and main inspirations to become an astronaut.

Ross described his experience watching Grissom's first launch, "We were on a family vacation up in Wisconsin or Minnesota... but it was getting ready for the time for Gus's first launch. I pestered my parents to find a road side restaurant that we could pull over and get in there and have them turn on the TV so we could watch the launch. And that's where I experienced the mission from, the road side cafe somewhere up north."

"I was making scrapbooks about flying in space and satellites and stuff even before the first satellites were launched," said Ross.

He was an ROTC in his undergrad at Purdue where he majored in engineering. After he completed his masters in mechanical engineering he went on to work at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Then eventually became a flight test pilot.

When he first applied to the astronaut program, he as among 8,000 other applicants.

"I was really excited to be one of the 210 that they interviewed, but I wasn't one of the 35 that were selected. I was very disappointed as you might guess. But about two years later they had a second selection process at that time I was fortunate enough to be one of the 19 selected out of the 6,000."

He was first person ever to fly in space seven times.

He has written two books about his career--one is a children's version where he encourages young people to figure out what they're going to do with their lives and then work hard to achieve their goals.

"I tried to point out in the book that things didn't come easily, I had reversals..."said Ross.

The day ended with the afternoon parade and the sold out Space Sympoium.

For more information about the Gus Grissom Boyhood Home you can go to their Facebook page, at this link.

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