Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Remembering the First American in Space - Alan Shepard (May 5, 1961)
Forty nine years ago, Alan Shepard Jr. piloted the Freedom 7 spacecraft (MR-3) and was the second person, and the first American to travel to space. Launched on May 5, 1961 he was launched on a Redstone booster which carried him to an altitude of 166 miles and to a splashdown 303 miles down range from Cape Canaveral. His 15 minute 28 second flight achieved a velocity of 5,134 miles per hour and pulled a maximum of 11g's. Alan Shepard was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal for his flight by President John F. Kennedy.
A copy of the NASA Freedom 7/MR-3 Mission Report is attached:
NASA Mercury-Redstone 3 - Freedom 7 Mission Report
After MR-3, Shepard served as capsule communicator for the flights of Gus Grissom and John Glenn, and was backup pilot for Gordon Cooper.
Alan Shepard went on to command Apollo 14 along with Edgar Mitchell (Lunar Module Pilot) and Stuart Roosa (Command Module Pilot). Launched on a Saturn V rocket on 31 January, 1971 Shepard and Mitchell landed their lunar module Antares on February 5 in the Fra Mauro highlands.
Rear Admiral Alan Shepard Jr., retired from the Navy and resigned from NASA on July 31, 1974. He died of leukemia on July 21, 1998.