Bad Bobby, the ultimate "Bad Boy" of the US Manned Space Flight Program, often used unconventional thinking to achieve a new ride into space. While having access to a wide variety of NASA, Air Force and experimental aircraft and spacecraft, Bobby often desired the even more exotic types of vehicles. His "Mercury 8" was a good example of "lateral budgetary thinking".
Bobby discovered that the original budget for the Mercury program was set up to fly 8 manned capsules, but only 6 wound up flying.
One of the wonders of budgets is if you don't spend the money, it often cannot be reassigned to other areas without a great deal of paperwork, and the rapid pace of the US Space program in the early 60s meant the unspent funds were quickly forgotten about.
Having a genius in forensic budgetary tracking as a fishing buddy paid off when Carl, the NSA Spook, alerted Bobby to the unclaimed funds, and Bobby began his plan: to make an orbital vehicle from a 1949 Mercury.
The basic frame would require substantial reworking, with aerodynamic and thermodynamic improvements, and a flight control system adapted from the X-20 Program. Bobby knew a lot of aerodynamic designers and soon they had modified the basic '49 Mercury into an orbital spaceplane.
It was designed to be lifted aloft on a Titan III flown from Vandenberg Air Force base (without authorization from the USAF or the DoD). The sole flight took place on July 14, 1983, with Bobby piloting it. Initially, all went well, but shortly after achieving orbit Bobby began experiencing violent pitch and roll issues. It was later determined the fuzzy dice he'd hung from the mirror let debris fall into the flight computer. An emergency landing was made on the Bonneville Salt Flats, and while Bobby attempted to claim a new land speed record for a car, the FAI refused to allow it as it had only 3 wheels and didn't run the course twice. In fact, the brakes caught fire, the nose wheel tire blew, and Bobby wound up crashing the 49' Mercury Space Vehicle through a taco stand.
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This was built up from a Revell 1/24th scale 1949 Mercury and a bunch of spare parts. The belly was faired in using a block of balsa and a lot of Tamiya putty. A cockpit was scratchbuilt, and the decals were home made using Testors Decal Paper.