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Who Was Alan Shepard?
May 11, 2011
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Alan Shepard was the first American in space. He was one of NASA's first seven astronauts. He also walked on the moon.

What Was Shepard's Early Life Like?
Alan Shepard was born on Nov. 18, 1923. He worked on a ship during World War II. After the war, Shepard went back to school. He became a test pilot. Test pilots try out new aircraft. The pilots make sure the airplanes are safe. In April 1959, Shepard became an astronaut.

What Happened on Alan Shepard's First Spaceflight?
On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space. He flew on a Mercury spacecraft. There was just enough room for one person. He named his capsule Freedom 7. It launched on a Redstone rocket. The Army first used the Redstone as a missile. On this flight, Shepard did not orbit Earth. He flew 116 miles high. Then he came back down. The flight lasted about 15 ½ minutes. The mission was a success.
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What Happened on Alan Shepard's Second Spaceflight?
Shepard's second spaceflight was Apollo 14. This mission went to the moon. Shepard was the commander. Stuart Roosa and Edgar Mitchell were on Apollo 14, too. The Apollo spacecraft launched on a Saturn V rocket.

On Feb. 15, 1971, Shepard and Mitchell landed on the moon. Roosa stayed in the crew capsule. It stayed in orbit around the moon. Shepard and Mitchell went on two moonwalks. They collected more than 100 pounds of moon rocks. They did science experiments on the lunar surface. Shepard had some fun, too. He became the first person to hit a golf ball on the moon. It showed how far the ball would go in the moon's lower gravity. So that was science, too.
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What Happened After Shepard's Second Spaceflight?
Alan Shepard had flown on two space missions. He also worked as the head of the Astronaut Office. He left NASA in 1974. Shepard still worked to support space exploration. He also helped students. He died in 1998.

Related Resources
› Alan Shepard: First American in Space
› NASA Milestones - Freedom 7
› Freedom 7
› What Was Project Mercury?
› What Was the Apollo Program?
› What Was the Saturn V?
› Alan Shepard, First American in Space


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David Hitt/NASA Educational Technology Services

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Alan Shepard wears his silver Mercury spacesuit
NASA selected Alan Shepard as one of its first seven astronauts in 1959.
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NASA
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Alan Shepard's Redstone rocket leaves the pad
Alan Shepard became the first American in space on the May 1961 launch of Freedom 7.
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NASA
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Alan Shepard plants a flag on the moon
Alan Shepard became the fifth person to walk on the moon during Apollo 14.
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NASA
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Page Last Updated: September 4th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator