November 26, 1958 – Project Mercury assumes existence for NASA
NASA’s first human spaceflight program was called Project Mercury. It came into existence November 26, 1958 but was not named Project Mercury until December 17, 1958. It formally ended in 1963 though its last mission took place in November 1961. The goal of Project Mercury was to put a man into orbit above the Earth. The Mercury-Atlas 6 flight on February 20, 1962 was the first Mercury flight to achieve this goal. NASA selected seven astronauts to fly the Mercury missions. They were known as the Mercury 7. Max Faget was the leading Mercury engineer.
In all, the Mercury Project succeeded in carrying two men on sub-orbital flights and four on orbital missions. During the program NASA also completed 34 orbits around the Earth, tracking nearly 54 total orbital hours.
See the entries related to the Mercury Program.