'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 […]

'Eight Days in a Garbage Can': 50 Years Since Gemini V (Part 1)

Illustrating the cramped nature of their eight-day home, astronauts Pete Conrad (background) and Gordo Cooper are in jubilant spirits ahead of their 21 August 1965 launch. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty years ago, this week, astronaut Charles “Pete” Conrad experienced “the longest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.” Gemini V was the third […]

Flight of the Aurora: Remembering the Mission of Scott Carpenter (Part 2)

Scott Carpenter, America’s fourth man in space and second to orbit the Earth. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifty years ago, this week, Scott Carpenter became America’s second man in orbit. He was one of the most accomplished members of the “Mercury Seven.” In fact, at a December 1960 peer vote, his contemporary John Glenn had […]

Flight of the Aurora: Remembering the Mission of Scott Carpenter (Part 1)

Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter lifts off from Cape Canaveral on 24 May 1962 in his Aurora 7 capsule. The fourth American in space and second American to orbit Earth, Carpenter spent nearly five hours testing equipment and taking photographs before splashing down. Photo Credit: NASA

More than a half-century has now passed since America […]

'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 […]

Retro Space Images: John Glenn Aboard Freedom 7

Photo Credit: NASA / Retro Space Images

Back-Up Pilot: Project Mercury astronaut John Glenn is shown in the cockpit of the MR-3 (Freedom 7) spacecraft at Launch Complex 5 in April 1961. Glenn was serving as back-up pilot to fellow astronaut Alan Shepard. The following month, on May 5, 1961, Shepard would become the […]

Retro Space Images: Hoping for a Launch

Photo Credit: NASA / Retro Space Images

Zooming In: Photographers perched near Complex 17 have Alan Shepard’s Redstone rocket at Complex 5 in their viewfinders. A classic Chevrolet station wagon sits in the foreground. The attempted launch of the first American in space was scrubbed on this morning of May 2, 1961. The nation […]