Thursday, May 5, 2011

Alan Shepard, May 5, 1961: the First American in Space

Alan Shepard, May 5, 1961: the First American in Space
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Alan Shepard waiting for launch into space on May 5, 1961.
On May 5, 1961, Shepard piloted the Freedom 7 mission and became the second person, and the first American, to travel into space. Alan Shepard was launched by a Redstone rocket, and unlike Gagarin's 108 minute orbital flight, Shepard stayed on a ballistic trajectory suborbital flight - a flight which carried him to an altitude of 116 statute miles (187 km) and to a landing point 302 statute miles (486 km) down the Atlantic Missile Range. Unlike Gagarin, whose flight was strictly automatic, Shepard had some control of Freedom 7, spacecraft attitude in particular. Alan Shepard became the first astronaut to safely return to Earth inside his vehicle. In the Vostok 1 mission, pilot Yuri Gagarin parachuted from his vehicle prior to landing. The Mercury-Redstone 3 was a U.S. Mercury program manned space mission using a Redstone rocket, from Launch Complex 5 (LC-5) at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch, return from space and subsequent collection by helicopter were seen live on television by millions.
Credit: NASA

1 comment(s):

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great photo!

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