'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 […]

'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 […]

NASA Dryden Now Known as NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

This painting by artist Robert McCall sums up Neil A. Armstrong’s achievements in aviation and spaceflight history. NASA Dryden Flight Research Center was renamed after Armstrong, who died in 2012, on Saturday, March 1. Image Credit: NASA (painting by Robert McCall)

New year, new name: NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, located at Edwards Air […]

'I Hope That Flight Works Out For You': 15 Years Since John Glenn's Return to Space

Fifteen years ago today, at age 77, John Glenn became the oldest person ever to venture into space. It is a record which still stands. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifteen years ago today (29 October), John Glenn became the oldest human ever to venture beyond the thin veil of Earth and into space. He was […]

Wally, Walt, and Whatshisname: The Three Heroes Who Set Apollo's Course for the Moon

Commander Wally Schirra (center) and crewmates Donn Eisele (left) and Walt Cunningham restored America’s confidence in the Apollo spacecraft and enabled NASA to put its bold plan for a voyage to lunar orbit in motion. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago today, on 22 October 1968, the future began. With the successful return of […]

A Man Who Inspired: The Life and Legend of Scott Carpenter (1925-2013)

Chrysler artist Cece Bibby chats with Scott Carpenter, after stencilling the name “Aurora 7” onto his spacecraft. Photo Credit: NASA

Yesterday’s tragic passing of Scott Carpenter—one of America’s “Original Seven” Mercury astronauts and the nation’s second man to orbit Earth—following a recent stroke has deprived the world of yet another pioneer from the early […]