May 5, 1961 – Freedom 7 launches into orbit

Alan ShepardAlan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. was born November 18, 1923. He was the second person and the first American in space. He later commanded the Apollo 14 mission, and was the fifth person to walk on the moon.

Wikipedia says:

“On May 5, 1961, Shepard piloted the Freedom 7 mission and became the second person, and the first American, to travel into space. He was launched by a Redstone rocket on a ballistic trajectory suborbital flight—a flight which carried him to an altitude of 116 statute miles and to a landing point 302 statute miles down the Atlantic Missile Range. Unlike Gagarin’s flight, Shepard remained in control of his craft at all times. The flight, return from space and subsequent collection by helicopter were seen live on television by millions.

On his successful return to Earth, Shepard was celebrated as a national hero, honored with parades in Washington, New York and Los Angeles and meeting President John F. Kennedy.”

Quotes:

On being nominated to be the first U.S. astronaut to orbit space…. “That was competition at its best. Not because of the fame or the recognition that went with it, but because of the fact that America’s best pilots went through this selection process down to seven guys, and of those seven, I was the first to go.”
Alan Shepard, quoted in Into that Silent Sea (p. 75). Shepard was quoted stating the above in an interview for the Hall of Science and Exploration.

Suggested Reading:

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~ by tellinghistory on May 5, 2007.

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