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Alan B. Shepard, Jr.

On May 5, 1961, in the Freedom 7 spacecraft, he was launched by a Redstone vehicle 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.

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Alan B. Shepard, Jr.

Learn more about Astronaut Alan Shepard, including when he was selected by NASA to be an astronaut, his flight experience, education, background and more. 

Learn More about Alan B. Shepard, Jr.
Alan Shepard seen inside of his Freedom 7 Mercury capsule in May 1961
Alan Shepard piloted his Freedom 7 Mercury capsule for a 15 minute suborbital flight with no communication glitches. He was the first person from the US and the second person to enter space.

The Mercury Seven

On October 7, 1958, shortly after NASA opened for business, it announced its first major undertaking, Project Mercury. The objectives were threefold: to place a human spacecraft into orbital flight around Earth, observe human performance in such conditions, and recover the human and the spacecraft safely. In January 1959, the committee received and screened 508 service records of a group of talented test pilots, of which seven were ultimately chosen.

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The Mercury Seven

Portrait of M. Scott Carpenter.

Mercury-Atlas 7 astronaut

Portrait of L. Gordon Cooper, former astronaut

Mercury-Atlas 9 and Gemini V astronaut

John Glenn, Mercury Astronaut

Mercury-Atlas 6 and STS-95 astronaut

Mercury-Redstone 4, Gemini III and Apollo 1 astronaut

Portrait of Walter M. Schirra

Mercury-Atlas 8, Gemini VI-A and Apollo 7 astronaut

Mercury-Redstone 3 and Apollo 14 astronaut

Apollo-Soyuz Test Project astronaut