Conrad loved auto-racing, waterskiing and golf. Image credit: NASA
When Charles ‘Pete’ Conrad went through NASA’s selection process for its first group of astronauts, he ended up being dropped, his suitability for long-duration flight firmly under question. It had nothing to do with his struggles with dyslexia, even though the reading disorder had led to him flunking most of his 11th grade exams and being labelled lazy by teachers who had little knowledge of the lifelong condition. Rather, it had everything to do with his unorthodox approach to the agency’s numerous medical tests.
Believing the examinations to be degrading, he adopted a dismissive attitude to them. On being shown a blank card by psychologists, he stared briefly before telling them: “It’s upside down.” He also presented his stool sample in a red-ribboned gift box and described a sexual account in the greatest of detail when presented with an Rorschach inkblot test. NASA didn’t quite know what to make of him. After all, before them was a man who had worked around his dyslexia, earned an engineering degree from Princeton University and been awarded a Navy scholarship. He was one of America’s finest test pilots.
But then Conrad was bristling with ...