updated 11/8/2004 9:52:33 PM ET 2004-11-09T02:52:33

The son of Mercury astronaut Walter Schirra has been arrested on child sex tourism charges, federal authorities said Monday.

Walter Schirra, 54, was arrested at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday morning just before he was to board a flight to Thailand where he allegedly intended to solicit sex from underage boys, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In a search, federal officials said they found 15 to 20 images of child pornography on Schirra’s home computer.

Schirra, a property manager, was charged under the PROTECT Act, legislation signed into law in April 2003 to crack down on sex tourism.

Schirra, who is in federal custody, appeared in court Monday morning, but has not yet entered a plea. He was expected to appear in court later this week. It was unclear if he has an attorney.

Schirra’s father, also named Walter, was one of the seven original Mercury astronauts in the country’s first space program.

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