NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day Collection
Shepard Flies Freedom 7
Forty years ago today (May 5, 1961 [ http://www.thespace mercury03.html ]), at the dawn of the space age [ http://www.hq.nasa. index.html ], NASA controllers "lit the candle" and sent Alan Shepard arcing into space atop a Redstone rocket [ http://antwrp.gsfc. ]. The picture shows the pressure-suited Shepard before launch in his cramped space capsule [ http://www.hq.nasa. mercury.html ] dubbed "Freedom 7" [ http://images.jsc.n 10073523.htm ]. Broadcast live to a global television audience, the flight of Freedom 7 [ http://www.nasm.edu ] - the first space flight by an American - followed less than a month after the first human venture into space by Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin [ http://antwrp.gsfc. ]. Freedom 7's historic flight [ http://www.hq.nasa. intro.htm ] was suborbital, lasting only about 15 minutes, but during it Shepard demonstrated manual control of his capsule. Naval aviator [ http://www.hq.nasa. shepard.htm ] Shepard was chosen as one of the original seven Mercury Program [ http://www.hq.nasa. toc.htm ] astronauts. He considered this first flight [ http://www.hq.nasa. ] the greatest challenge and actively sought the assignment. Shepard's career as an astronaut spanned a remarkable period in human achievement and in 1971 he walked on the moon [ http://www.hq.nasa. a14.crew.html ] as commander of the Apollo 14 mission. A true pioneer and intrepid explorer, Alan Shepard died in 1998 [ http://www.nasa.gov ] at age 74.
Credit and Copyright:
Alan B. Shepard, Jr.
Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)
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