Created By The Mercury 7 Astronauts
The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation was established originally in 1984 as the Mercury Seven Foundation by the six surviving members of America’s original Mercury Seven astronauts, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Walter Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton, as well as Betty Grissom (widow of the seventh, Virgil “Gus” Grissom), William Douglas, M.D. (the Project Mercury flight surgeon), and Henri Landwirth, an Orlando businessman and friend of the astronauts.
The original Mercury Seven Foundation beginnings were modest, and the first seven scholarships, at $1,000 each, were awarded in 1986. Today, in accordance with its mission to aid the United States in retaining its leadership in science and technology, ASF makes 28 Astronaut Scholarships available to college students who exhibit leadership, imagination and exceptional performance in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). These $10,000 scholarships are the highest monetary awards disbursed to undergraduate STEM students based solely on merit in the U.S. To date, the foundation has awarded over $3.7 million in scholarships to deserving students nationwide.
Funds to support the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation are raised through annual benefit events, which include the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Gala and the Astronaut Autograph and Memorabilia Show, anniversary events honoring space program milestones, online and live auctions of donated space memorabilia, an online Astronaut Store, the Astronaut Speaker’s Bureau, and the support of corporate and individual donors, as well as more than 100 astronauts representing every era of manned spaceflight.
The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.
Watch members of the Mercury 7 describe the establishment of the Foundation in their own words: