The Right Stuff Cast Side-by-Side with the Real-Life Astronauts They Play in the Series

John Glenn Played by Patrick J. Adams

The Suits actor portrays Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth. His historic flight on the Friendship 7 on Feb. 20, 1962 made him a hero, and put the United States space program on the world’s stage.

Additionally, his 1998 mission on the space shuttle orbiter Discover made him the oldest person to go to space, at the age of 77. Glenn also pursued a career in politics, representing Ohio in the senate from 1974 to 1999.

Glenn died on Dec. 8, 2016. He was 95 years old.

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Alan Shepard Played by Jake McDorman

In addition to becoming the first American in space on May 5, 1961, Shepard also walked on the moon 10 years later.

McDorman, best known for his TV roles in Greek (as Evan Chambers), Limitless (as Brian Finch) and Murphy Brown (as Avery Brown), will portray the life of the distinguished astronaut, who furthered space exploration (and was the first to hit a golf ball on the moon!) before he died at the age of 74 on July 21, 1998.

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Gordon Cooper Played by Colin O’Donoghue

Once Upon a Time star O’Donoghue, who played Captain Hook on the fairytale series, will trade his hook for astronaut boots in his role as Cooper, the youngest of the Mercury Seven.

Cooper became the first man to ever sleep in space, as his May 1963 mission lasted more than 34 hours. He was also awarded numerous honors, including NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, before he died at age 77 on Oct. 4, 2004.

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Walter ‘Wally’ Schirra Played by Aaron Staton

Staton, who you may recognize for his role as Ken Cosgrove on Mad Men, has the honor of playing Schirra, the only astronaut to fly in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. After retiring from NASA in 1969, Schirra became a commentator on CBS from 1969 to 1975. He died on May 3, 2007 at 84 years old.

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Donald ‘Deke’ Slayton Played by Micah Stock

The Tony Award-nominated star plays Slayton, who joined the Mercury Seven on April 9, 1959. After suffering from a heart condition, the space pioneer worked within NASA’s Manned Space Flight Research Programs until 1975, when he was cleared to make his first and only spaceflight as the first Apollo docking module pilot for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. Following the successful mission, Slayton continued his work as manager for the Orbital Flight Training Program until he retired from NASA in 1982.

He later died from brain cancer on June 13, 1993 at 69.

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Scott Carpenter Played by James Lafferty

The One Tree Hill star portrays Carpenter, who served as both an astronaut for NASA and aquanaut in the U.S. Navy. He was known as the second American to orbit the earth, following John Glenn, and continued his work in aerospace and environmental health and safety until he died on Oct. 10, 2013 at the age of 88.

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Virgil Ivan ‘Gus’ Grissom Played by Michael Trotter

Best known for his role as Elden Donahue in the TV series Underground, Trotter has been tapped to play Grissom, who lost his life in the tragic Apollo 1 fire in 1967, which also killed fellow astronauts Edward White and Roger Chaffee.

Grissom’s son Mark told The Washington Post in 2017 that his father had concerns about the Apollo spacecraft before the fire, and he made them known prior to his death.

“I was kind of expecting him not to go,” Mark told the outlet. “But he was doing everything he could to get the thing ready to go into space. He wasn’t having much luck.” 

Although multiple investigations took place following the first fatal accident in the history of the U.S. space program, it was ultimately concluded that design flaws and a difficult-to-open hatch door led to Grissom’s death, according to The New York Times. He was only 40 years old.

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