Chaos, Crying, And Car Trips: Gerard K. O’Neill And Brian O’Leary, Circa Mid-1960s

How a tumultuous decade left its imprint upon two great space scientists.

A very grainy circa-1966 photo from Dr. Brian O’Leary’s 1970 book The Making of an Ex-Astronaut (Houghton Mifflin), captioned “Getting ready with other astronaut candidates for a sigmoidoscopy on the flats of Brooks Air Force Base, San Antonio.” Dr. Brian O’Leary is at left (in the loud jacket); at right is Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill.

The year was 1964, and the sweeping changes that would transform the decade were already well underway. Months previously, President John F. Kennedy had been the victim of an assassin’s bullets, the crime on graphic display as his car traversed Dealey…

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