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For Release: May 1, 1996

Ann C. Gaudreaux
(757) 864-8150

Release No. 96-031


NASA Langley Marks Project Mercury's 35th Anniversary

Thirty-five years ago, on May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard was propelled into space aboard the Mercury capsule Freedom 7. His 15-minute flight was the first for Project Mercury, the United States’ first man-in-space program.

NASA Langley Research Center played a major role in Project Mercury from 1958 to 1963 including training the “Original 7” astronauts, project management, development of the Mercury spacecraft and its related systems, and creating a global spacecraft tracking network.

The objectives of the Mercury program, six manned flights from 1961 to 1963 and 20 unmanned flights were specific: To orbit a manned spacecraft around the Earth, investigate man’s ability to function in space, and to recover both man and spacecraft safely.

A Project Mercury fact sheet, photos of testing and training in and around NASA Langley and Hampton, Va., interviews with those who worked on Project Mercury, and video b-roll are available to mark the May 5 anniversary.

For more information, please contact Ann C. Gaudreaux, NASA Langley Office of Public Affairs, at (757) 864-8150.

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