'What a Beautiful View': 55 Years Since Freedom 7 Began America's Adventure in Space (Part 2)

Shepard is winched to safety in the minutes after Freedom 7 splashed into the Atlantic Ocean. Photo Credit: NASA

Shepard’s 15-minute flight offered him a few minutes of weightlessness and a few minutes to glimpse the grandeur of Earth from space. He was only the second human being to leave the Home Planet. Photo Credit: NASA

In the half-hour between 9:30 and 10 a.m. EDT on 5 May 1961, the United States came […]

'Man, I Gotta Pee': 55 Years Since Freedom 7 Began America's Adventure in Space (Part 1)

Carrying the hopes and dreams of a nation, Freedom 7 thunders into space on the morning of 5 May 1961. Photo Credit: NASA

Alan Shepard (left) and John Glenn were assigned as prime and backup pilots for America’s first mission into space. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty-five years ago, in the early hours of 5 May 1961, America prepared to launch its first man into space. Navy Cmdr. Alan Shepard would fly a suborbital flight—rising from Pad 5 at […]

'We Had 'Em By the Short Hairs': How the United States Lost the Race for a Man in Space (Part 2)

The Mercury-Redstone Booster Development (MR-BD) mission launches on 24 March 1961. This mission cleared the final concerns, ahead of entrusting the rocket with a human pilot. Photo Credit: NASA

In early 1961, the Mercury Seven were ready to begin the United States’ first missions into space. However, the need to conduct a final unpiloted Mercury-Redstone mission caused America to lose the race to beat the Soviet Union into space. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty-five years ago, next week, on 24 March 1961, the final […]

Timid Doctors and Timid Germans: How the United States Lost the Race for a Man in Space (Part 1)

One of the earliest rockets to be launched from Cape Canaveral was the Army’s Redstone missile, which later evolved into the vehicle seen here delivering America’s first man into space. Photo Credit: NASA

More than five decades have now passed since one of the most unfortunate episodes in human spaceflight history. In late March […]

A Pioneering Spirit: NASA's Katherine Johnson Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

From NASA: "Katherine Johnson sits at her desk with a globe, or 'Celestial Training Device.'" Johnson's work as a research mathematician contributed to NASA's successes from the Mercury to the Shuttle programs, and beyond. Photo Credit: NASA

From NASA: “Katherine Johnson sits at her desk with a globe, or ‘Celestial Training Device.’” Johnson’s work as a research mathematician contributed to NASA’s successes from the Mercury to the Shuttle programs, and beyond. Photo Credit: NASA

Decades before astronaut Sally Ride became the first U.S. woman to soar into space, and a decade […]

'The Right Man': Remembering Gordon Cooper's Faith 7 Mission (Part 2)

Faith 7 descends to a splashdown on 16 May 1963, after Project Mercury’s longest mission of 34 hours. Photo Credit: NASA

Early on 14 May 1963, a hotshot pilot lay on his back in a tiny capsule, atop a converted ballistic missile, and steeled himself to be blasted into space. On Project Mercury’s final […]

'How About Now?' Remembering Gordon Cooper's Faith 7 Mission (Part 1)

Gordon Cooper is extracted from the Faith 7 capsule, on the deck of the USS Kearsarge on 16 May 1963. The astronaut’s 34-hour, 22-orbit mission proved as colorful as Cooper himself. Photo Credit: NASA

More than a half-century ago, on 15 May 1963, America launched astronaut Gordon Cooper on its longest manned space mission […]

'What a Beautiful View': The 15 Minutes of Freedom 7

Alan Shepard is hoisted aboard the helicopter, deftly piloted by Wayne Koons, after completing his 15-minute suborbital flight. The patch of fluorescent green marker dye in the water around Freedom 7 is particularly obvious. Photo Credit: NASA

In the half-hour between 9:30 and 10 a.m. Eastern time on 5 May 1961, the United States […]

'Poyekhali!' Remembering Our First Space Voyager (Part 2)

Yuri Gagarin (left) was proudly displayed to the world by a joyful Nikita Khrushchev (right), who recognized the political and ideological advantage which his flight had acquired over the United States. Photo Credit: Roscosmos/The Telegraph

The location at which the feet of Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin—the first human ever to break the bonds of Earth […]

'Poyekhali!' Remembering Our First Space Voyager (Part 1)

Clad in his orange space suit, Yuri Gagain appears pensive in this image recorded during his journey to the launch pad on 12 April 1961. Photo Credit: Roscomos

In the early hours of 11 April 1961—more than five decades ago—an enormous booster trundled humanity’s first manned spacecraft to its launch site in a barren […]